Tesla Motors – makers of the beautiful all-electric four door sports sedan Model S – not only want to move us all into driving electric vehicles; it also wants to provide the power you need to recharge your batteries, free of charge. Even for those long, cross-country road trips.
The company’s “Supercharger Network” is a series of solar-powered ultrafast charging stations installed across the country along major highways, spaced evenly so that drivers can cover the distance between them without needing a charge. Tesla started rolling out this network on California’s congested highways last year near diners, cafes, malls, and car dealers, and as of this writing it now has 30 stations across North America, allowing owners to drive coast to coast without needing to worry about finding a charge.
By 2015, the company expects to have 98 percent of the U.S. and Canada covered so in about two years time, owners of one of Tesla’s cars will be able to drive almost anywhere in North America, free of charge. In addition, Tesla is adding Superchargers in Europe as well.
The Supercharger stations, which are built by SolarCity and are 100 percent solar-powered, are designed to generate more electricity annually than a Model S consumes. In just 30 minutes of charging – less than the time it may take a family to stop for lunch – the Model S can regain about 200 miles of 60 MPH drive time. In order to keep construction and maintenance costs down, the Supercharger network uses technology already developed for use inside the Model S itself. The charging hardware comes standard on those models with an 85 kWh battery and is optional on those with a 60 kWh battery.
“Tesla’s Supercharger network is a game changer for electric vehicles, providing long distance travel that has a level of convenience equivalent to gasoline cars for all practical purposes,” said Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO Elon Musk. “We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight.”
The premium-packaged Model S is capable of traveling nearly 300 miles on a single charge and can go from 0 to 60 mph in under 4.4 seconds. By providing unlimited free long-distance driving powered by only the sun, Tesla is helping owners offset the hefty price tag of this new technology. Obviously the company has much at stake for the worldwide success of electric cars, and this Supercharger network should do a lot to alleviate concerns of those buyers hesitant to purchase an electric car due to range anxiety. In addition, it will also eliminate the argument many have about electric vehicles in that while they run on batteries, they still charge up using power from fossil fuel burning power plants. They may still use batteries, but now they are charged up using a natural, renewable resource.
Since some gas stops take 15 minutes or more, waiting a few extra minutes to power up an EV isn’t too much of a sacrifice for the privilege of driving a car that is capable of traveling 300 miles on a charge, racing from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds, and that gets all its power from the sun. And while current models are very expensive, the company expects to have a more reasonably-priced model out next year, priced at about $30,000. As someone who loves to drive but is concerned about the environment, that’s music to my ears.