Tesla Keeping Its Promises – Coast to Coast on Electricity Just Happened

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If there were a band called SkepticElectric then I might have been the bass player. I’m fascinated by the technology and the possibilities of electric driving, but given the landscape down here in Tasmania and the distinct lack of infrastructure, an electric car just isn’t viable. Even a Tesla.

No such problems in the US, however. The red dots on the map below are Tesla ‘Supercharging’ stations. All 71 of them. Right now, if you’ve got a Model S and you want to cross the continental United States, your route is governed by those dots.

superchargers-january-2014

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I got that map from Wired, where they outline the story of John Glenney and his daughter, Jill, who just made the first sea-to-shining-sea trip in a Tesla. They went from New York to Los Angeles using 28 Tesla Supercharger stations.

The trip took them six days.

Tesla engineers are reportedly gearing up for their own coast-to-coast trip this weekend. They’re going to try and do the trip in half the time it took the Glenneys – from Friday to Monday. It’ll be interesting to see how they go.

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How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

superchargerConsider the red dots on that map, above, as individual bites out of the metaphorical elephant that is EV viability. Tesla’s stated goal is to cover the Unites States with Supercharger stations in such a way that 98% of the country will be available to Tesla owners – by 2015.

That’s a massive goal and given that going coast to coast has only taken 15 months from the opening of the first Supercharger, I don’t doubt that Tesla will do it. But I still wonder about the practicality of it.

A road trip isn’t just about point-to-point re-fuelling. It’s about taking a detour when a sign for a certain unexpected attraction catches your eye. Have you got range for that 40-mile round trip away from your main route? That’ll be the question staring down the confidence of Tesla owners over the next few years.

Credit to Elon Musk, though. He’s doing what he said he’d do and when it comes to building a car company, especially building a car company from scratch, keeping your brand promise is absolutely essential.

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9 Comments

  1. Ive driven my friends Tesla, it really is one incredible car. The one complaint I have is that if you are sitting in the back, the legroom is not great, because the floor is high – due to the batteries underneath. I dont think you can really get your feet under the front seats.

    The front seats are very comfortable though.

  2. I read your post after looking at the national weather this AM on TV. I wish the Tesla guys good luck on their cross country trip. 80% of those recharging stations will be in freezing weather some to minus F degrees and lots of snow.

    The upper Mid-West on that map will be -20 F or more most of the week.

    How does the Tesla get heat in the interior? Hot water? NO. Hot air from the engine? NO.

    The heating takes some warmth from the battery liquid cooling system. If it needs more heat, electric coils kick in…..sort of like an electric space heater. Well it does drain the batteries very well to heat the interior. There are heated front seats but not rear.

    I would not like to take a Tesla across the USA in winter. That map points out that only the northern route is covered and with charging stations, and you may run the risk of not making the next station if you try to heat the car.

  3. Swade, I have the same thought about detours. At the moment, detours are not a real possibility. But it is still a big step toward making an electric car viable.

    Does anyone know the cost of a charge at the charging stations?

  4. one step at a time, but to be fair to Tesla they genuinely seem to be taking strides – might even stretch to calling them leaps! They’re clearly all-in on this and like you, Steven, I have no doubts about Elon Musk’s desire and capacity to pull it off. He’s a true captain of industry and will be remembered for his pioneering vision, I think.

  5. To be fair, those are the locations of the Tesla ‘supercharging’ stations only. Stations capable of charging the car to rated capacity in fairly short period of time (I don’t know the specifics). There are conventional charging stations dotted all over the place. So, if you want to drive at more leisurely pace (think 150+ miles before stopping for a six/eight-hour charge, so about 300 miles per day total), you could probably take a different route and make the trip in 10-12 days (a guess).

    As stated above, electric cars ‘solve’ some of the negatives with traditional cars, and so I’m pulling for them, for sure.

    1. You should also be able to get a 110V charge anywhere there’s electricity (albeit at an even slower rate). I will wager that there aren’t many places in the US where you can get gasoline but you can’t get grid power.

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