Tesla Motors Inc. (Nasdaq:TSLA) has been on a streak lately.
First it announced its first-ever quarterly profit – albeit coming thanks in part to selling carbon credits to other automakers.
Then it announced on May 22 that it had paid back earlier than expected a $465 million government loan plus interest. Then the stock price broke $100 for the first time on Tuesday following a two-month rally from below $40 a share in March. Then on Wednesday night CEO Elon Musk promised a $30,000 Tesla within five years.
Now the company has outlined its plan to deal with the one of the main challenges to the electric car – a network of free (yes, free) charging stations.
Currently Tesla's charging network covers a large part of California, allowing drivers to get as far as Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas in Nevada. Owners of the slick driving machine on the East Coast are limited to travel between Washington, D.C., and Boston.
On Thursday the company outlined the next phase of the network’s expansion. By the end of the year the following routes, which the company says will let Tesla owners lower their fuel expenses to zero, are to go online:
- Portland/Seattle/Vancouver along Interstate 5 – about 280 miles each way.
- Austin/Dallas along Interstate 35 – about 195 miles each way.
- Routes also will be established in Colorado, Illinois, Arizona and Florida, involving those state's major metro areas.
- Four charging stations will be added to the existing Eastern Seaboard route, expanding driving range there.
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.
Of course there is a catch to the free driving fuel. Tesla says the Model S can go 205 miles on one charge, or 265 miles with the pricier battery. Driving habits play a role in driving distance, too. A/C-blasting speeders will see their ranges diminish compared to more careful drivers.
“Re-fuelling” takes about 20 to 30 minutes for about three hours of driving time. That’s a lot of bathroom breaks for long-distance cross-country road trips where a typical driver could easily double that distance without a stop. And of course taking back road adventures would be largely off limits. But on the other hand: free fuel.