Tesla Motors is planning to place a “Supercharger” station within easy reach of all of its customers in the next few years. The California-based maker is planning to set up “hundreds” of the quick-charging facilities across the US and Canada and says it will lay out plans for a European network later this month.
Tesla has already begun opening Supercharger stations along America’s east and west coasts but will now nearly triple the number of facilities, with “most of the major metro areas in the US and Canada” within reach by the end of 2013. By mid-decade, no location in American will be more the 100 miles away from one.
“It does mean quite a lot to mainstream customers, being able to drive your (battery) car wherever you want to go… at a moment’s notice,” said Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk. So this is very important to accessing a broader audience for battery-electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S sedan, which went on sale last summer in the US.
Slow charging times and limited availability of public charging points has been one of the biggest drawbacks facing the nascent battery-car industry. Depending on the type of equipment, a Model S can take anything from three hours to nearly a day to charge. The Supercharger’s 480-volt direct current can provide as much as three hours of driving range in as little as 20 minutes, Musk promised. That’s a significant improvement over the first Superchargers. They will be reprogrammed while Tesla ups their power from 90 to 120 kilowatts.
Those who purchased the longest-range, 80 kilowatt-version of the Tesla Model S will be able to use the Superchargers at no cost. The feature is an option for other versions of the sedan. Musk suggests he would be open to a deal with other manufacturers who might want access to the high-speed chargers for their customers.
According to Musk, the typical Supercharger station costs about $150,000 to set up — or $300,000 if they’re equipped with solar panels and battery back-up systems. Tesla is funding the expanded network out of a new stock offering expected to raise over $1 billion.
Paul A Eisenstein