Tesla Motors Inc. (NASQDAQ:TSLA) is scrambling to connect the East and West Coast of the U.S. through its national network of Supercharger stations that provide complimentary battery re-ups to Model S owners.
The stations offer high speed recharges and are an important part of Tesla’s selling point: that eventually Model S drivers will be able to refuel for free from hundreds of Superchargers across the United States and Western Europe. Currently most of the West Coast is adequately covered to take road trips without paying for fuel, but the network is still too threadbare for drivers to rely exclusively on Tesla’s own charging stations on long-distance drives.
Tesla doesn’t say how much it’s spending to build these stations, but in its last quarterly report, issued Nov. 5, the company cited growing expenses related to building out its network of stores, service centers and Supercharger infrastructure. In the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Tesla spent $77 million on these projects, up from $37.8 million thanks to this year’s aggressive European expansion efforts.
Since Dec. 12 the Palo Alto-based luxury electric carmaker has added five new stations to its map: one near San Francisco, one in New Mexico west of Albuquerque, one in eastern Wyoming, one in southern South Dakota, and one in Chicago.
Three of the stations – the ones in New Mexico, Wyoming and South Dakota – are putting Tesla three steps closer to giving Model S drivers the ability to travel a specific route between Los Angeles and New York, via a swing up the Western states of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota, through Chicago, and then east through northern Indiana and Ohio and across Pennsylvania.
The map above is the latest Tesla Supercharger network with the new stations circled in green. The green arrows indicate gaps that need to be filled before a Model S driver could on this very specific route go from one coast to the other without paying for electric fuel.
Getting free "fuel" probably isn’t a big deal for the wealthy Model S owners, but they would be concerned about being stranded in the middle of the desert in Utah with no charging options in sight. This is perhaps one reason why the nascent coast-to-coast route is tracking through some of the lesser populated Western states where an electric-car driver would be lucky to encounter an RV park or third-party charging station from which to juice-up the battery pack.