Tesla opens free fast-charge stations, plans for electric 'cross-country travel'
Up to 100 stations will be installed by the end of 2013, but the technology has drawbacks even for Tesla owners.
And they are -- unless you're a new owner of the company's spiffy Model S sedan. On Friday, Tesla opened six stations in California that claim to recharge a Model S to nearly full in just 30 minutes.
"For the average traveler, you're looking at a 30-minute charge," spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks told MSN. "That's enough time to stop, grab a bite to eat, take a quick pee break, walk the dog, and then you're on your way again."
Tesla's six stations, called "Superchargers," accommodate just two to four cars at a time, although the company says that's plenty to support road trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco (a 382-mile drive) or Los Angeles to Las Vegas (265 miles). Even a separate detour to Lake Tahoe and back is possible, the company says.
While everything is completely free, Tesla's stations can't recharge any other electric vehicle. That's because their proprietary design (pictured, at right) isn't compatible with the latest fast-charge standard released by the Society of Automotive Engineers this week, which was adopted with the support of eight major automakers.
"It's hard to know what Tesla is going to do with that in the future," said Hendriks. "We make adapters for Model S so that our customers can charge at any station, so I could see possibly an adapter coming."
Tesla has always disliked waiting. When the Roadster debuted in 2008, it was the only production electric vehicle on sale in the U.S. At that time, the SAE hadn't adopted a charging standard, so Tesla went ahead with its own that could be plugged directly into an outlet, rather than through a special charging station. Months earlier this year, CEO Elon Musk announced an entirely new plug design for the Model S -- a sleek, thin connection discreetly hidden in the car's rear taillamp -- because the SAE's lower-voltage plug was "ugly." With it, Musk had even bigger plans to do what the SAE, governments, and utilities hadn't yet done: build a viable network of fast-charge stations that could finally put "range anxiety" to rest.
By the end of 2013, Tesla said it expects to install 94 additional fast-charge stations on both coasts, primarily in California and the Northeast. Other stations will be scattered midway that would "enable cross-country travel." The company said it was considering upgrading its smartphone app to allow owners to check if stations were unoccupied.
However, like Apple with its iPhone software updates, not all Teslas will be compatible with the Supercharger stations. Only owners of the 85-kWh Model S (out now) and the 60-kWh Model S (out in a few months, and only when equipped with an optional hardware pack) can stop for a free refill. The least-expensive Model S, due in early 2013 at $57,400, has a 40-kWh battery that can't take a fast-charge. Tesla's 2,100-plus Roadster owners -- the people who essentially funded the company's early survival -- can't do it, either.
Each high-voltage station, located near restaurants and shopping malls, costs Tesla between $75,000 to $150,000, a sum the company says it is paying without subsidies or grants. But despite Tesla repaying its $465 million federal loan months ahead of schedule, the automaker remains unprofitable and has spent about $120 million in each quarter of this year. When Tesla builds the remaining stations, it wants to run them entirely on solar power and include capacity for up to six cars at a time. Do the math -- including commercial-grade solar panels supplying up to 120 kilowatts of continuous power per car -- and Tesla could be spending a significant chunk of cash on its stations.
Last quarter, the company built 359 cars through the end of September and is not on track to hit its original 5,000-unit goal by year's end. However, demand remains rather high, with more than 13,000 people on Tesla's waiting list.
Well, consider this....they are not sucking billions of dollars of tax payer money to pioneer this development. They are getting the job done, though maybe not as effectively as possible. They are putting THEIR money where their mouth is and paving the way for the future.
How about cut them some slack or better yet, put your money where your mouth is and support them. Like Tesla himself, they are ahead of their time and mocked just as much but at least they are doing something with out raping the people.
If Tesla wants to be truly visionary it should be developing inductive charging stations that use no plug and charge faster than present Level III fast chargers. It could incorporate this capability into its vehicle designs and be years ahead of its competitors. This technology will happen sooner than later and make plugs obsolete.
There are several U.S. companies and academic institutions that are presently developing the technology for commercialization.
This techology has been developed and tested in South Korea by the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and not only eliminates the need of a charging plug, but of the battery as well.
In fact this technology has been tested successfully in a pilot application at the Seoul Grand amusement park in southern Seoul for the last two years.
I've seen the Tesla car, it is very beautiful. The fella who owned it said it had an electrical problem that the Tesla company was trying to work out. Still it was quite the automotive EYE CANDY!!!
Labor and growing pains always accompany new technology.
With the banksters attem[ting to monopolize everything in their favor it's a wonder that they are even getting this off the ground. It was the monied folks that suppressed all of Nikola Teslas' ideas because they couldn't find a way to meter the product for profit has, in my opinion, forced us all down the wrong path. But that's the way the wolves want it.
To think that today we could all be enjoying free electricity without all the unsightly transmission wires is a travesty foisted upon us by the money whores.
The batteries in these cars can be recycled with minimal environmental impact. Compared to the internal combustion engine, it's a no brainer.
What has me totally puzzled is why we can't adapt locomotive technology into automobiles. Engine runs on fossil fuel (preferably diesel) and drives a generator that powers the electric motors in the wheels. The hybrids are sort of doing that now, only with the battery connection as a go between like a WWII diesel submarine. If we can create stealth aircraft with aerodynamically unstable wing designs, we can build cars that are extremely fuel efficient and less polluting..
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