In another blow to so-called "range anxiety" keeping electric cars from entering the mainstream, a pair of Tesla drivers have made the first-ever transcontinental drive using only the luxury electric car's supercharger stations to "refuel."
The pair, John Glenney and his daughter Jill Glenney, left New York City in their Tesla Model S on January 20, arriving in Los Angeles on Sunday -- a six-day trip. The pair's route was a bit less direct than it could have been, as they had to follow the network of Tesla Supercharging stations now in operation -- which meant their NYC-L.A. trip took them through Rapid City, South Dakota and Gallup, New Mexico.
With about 40 minutes at each charging station to fill their batteries to 80 percent, which would give the Model S a bit more than 200 miles' worth of juice in ideal conditions, that's a rather leisurely trip, but that will change as Tesla adds more Supercharger stations. The company plans to expand coverage of the I-70 corridor this year, with nationwide coverage slated for 2015.
Tesla's Supercharger stations are a resource that's admittedly out of reach of many people in the U.S.: they work only with Tesla's cars, which start at a base price of about $63K including federal electric vehicle incentives. That said, the Superchargers' technology is exciting. Delivering 170 kilowatts, about 24 times the wattage of common charging stations, the Superchargers can give Model S about 170 miles' worth of power in half an hour -- putting a charging session well within the "cup of coffee and a snack" timeframe.
Supercharger station use is offered as a free perk with Tesla ownership, likely making the luxury car even more attractive to its core demographic.
There are now 71 Supercharger stations in operation across North America, from Washington to Florida. If Tesla makes good on its plans to install more such stations, cross-country trips may become a lot more commonplace. Founder Elon Musk plans a family trip from L.A. to New York this spring, reports Wired, and Tesla employees are making a similar trek Friday in an attempt to set a (presumably legal) speed record:
Two teams from Tesla aiming to set a cross-country EV speed record this week. Departing Fri from LA, arriving Sun in NY.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 26, 2014
In the meantime, one Tesla-driving challenge still exists: to ReWire's knowledge, no one has yet tackled the task of driving from Seattle to Miami via the Mojave and New York City, using Tesla's existing Supercharger network:
We here at ReWire humbly stand ready to confront this challenge, as soon as someone provides us with a Model S.