“Tesla needed to solve the problem of long-distance travel and we can’t wait for others to agree with our strategy. If we wait for some sort of consensus, it’s going to take too long. We just need to get going and other manufacturers can either copy us or join us.”
In the world of high-powered auto executives, you can probably guess that quote comes from the guy who also owns a company that builds spaceships. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, founder of PayPal, and owner of SpaceX, isn’t a guy to wait around and hope technology adapts to his product. No, Musk would rather adapt and invent technology to support his product.
In this case, the technology seems simple on the surface: recharging the electric vehicles that Tesla builds.
The problem is a current lack of North American infrastructure to provide a network that could support a cross-country trip. But why wait for that infrastructure, when you can just build your own?
Yesterday Tesla announced plans for its Supercharger network, a series of high-speed electric vehicle charging stations placed strategically across North America and, eventually, Europe. Tesla’s timeline for this ambitious project is crazy fast: The number of Supercharger stations will more than triple from 8 today to 25 by the end of this month. What’s more, by the end of the year, Superchargers “will connect most of the major metro areas in the U.S. and Canada,” Tesla says, and a year from now, the network will cover most of the population of the U.S. and Canada.
If it’s that easy, why hasn’t it been done? I guess the answer to that question is that a guy like Musk hasn’t taken the initiative to do it. Well, that and cost. Each charging station will cost between $150,000 and $300,000 to install, depending on whether or not the station uses off-grid solar panels to generate electricity.
With enough solar-powered Superchargers, a person could theoretically drive across the country, as many times as his or her heart desires, without using an ounce of Earthly generated power. Even better, Model S drivers can use the network for free, for life. The Superchargers will deliver about 3 hours of drive time in 20 minutes.
With Tesla’s dedication to provide a superior customer experience, eliminate range anxiety and provide free recharging for life, the case for its $80,000 Model S looks pretty good.
Would you be more likely to buy a Tesla if you could drive anywhere, anytime, and recharge for free?