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Tesla To Unveil Coast-to-Coast Charging Stations This Year

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Tesla Model S on the road | Photo: Tesla Motors

It's been a good week for high-end electric car manufacturer Tesla. A few days ago, the company announced it was paying off a federal loan nine years early. That was followed by the company's stock topping $100 a share on Tuesday.

But here's the best news for Tesla owners: Founder Elon Musk has announced Tesla will triple its available public charging stations by the end of June, with a coast-to-coast network in place by the end of the year.

Tesla's Superchargers, which provide fast recharging of properly equipped Model S vehicles, offer a way for drivers to refill their car's batteries in a fraction of the time it would take at more conventional charging stations. There are now eight Tesla Supercharger stations in California and on the East Coast. Musk told reporters Wednesday that he plans to more than triple that number in the next month, adding four new stations along the Southern California coast, with additional expansion in the D.C.-Boston corridor. Superchargers will also begin service in Florida, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest.

Superchargers will link the coasts by the end of the year, said Musk. Though there are references online to the first cross-country links "following I-80," the company's map actually shows the coast-to-coast chain of charging stations pretty much avoiding I-80 altogether.

But you wanted to visit Mount Rushmore anyway, right?

By the end of 2014, Tesla drivers will have a lot more route flexibility. As Tesla said in a press release Thursday,

A year from now, the Tesla Supercharger network will stretch across the continent, covering almost the entire population of the US and Canada. The expansion of the network will mean that Model S drivers can take the ultimate road trip -- whether that's LA to New York, Vancouver to San Diego, or Montreal to Miami -- without spending a cent on fuel.

Oh, did we forget to mention that Supercharging is free? Once you buy the car, that is.

Tesla's Model S isn't limited to charging at Supercharger stations: adapters are available that allow owners to plug into a standard, 110-volt wall socket. (Which gives the Tesla about 30 miles worth of charge in an hour.) Higher-voltage home chargers are also available, as are adapters for other public charging stations. The advantage of the Supercharger is that it delivers about 120 kilowatts of power, allowing a full charge in less than an hour, and two-thirds in 20 minutes. That full charge will take a relatively meticulous driver about 230 miles at 50-70 mph, which works out to less than an hour of charging time for every three or four hours of driving.

That should do a lot to ease prospective Tesla buyers' "range anxiety," in that most drivers making cross-country trips will want to break for an hour or so after a long shift of driving anyway. And given that Tesla Model S owners are the folks who can afford to shell out between $62 and $84K for their car, savvy retailers might consider snapping up locations near the new Superchargers. They'll have a string of well-off motorists looking for ways to kill half an hour or so all day, every day, and those cappuccinos will probably fly out the door.

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