The Associated Press made a big deal recently about the opening of one of Tesla’s quick-charging stations in Lusk, Wy., a small town about 100 miles east of Casper city near Interstate Highway 25.
“There's no shortage of skepticism about electric cars out here -- it's not the kind of place for electric cars,” wrote AP’s Mead Gruver under a Huffington Post headline that reads “Tesla Now Wants To Conquer The American Heartland.”
“Conquer the American heartland,” is an overstatement, as is the idea the company has any plans to specifically target Wyoming or any other sparsely populated, pickup-truck heavy parts of the U.S. with a luxury electric car.
The reason for establishing Tesla Supercharger stations, which offer free electricity to Model S owners, in the boondocks of the western United States is part of a larger strategy to lay out a coast-to-coast route via Chicago that can serve Tesla’s core consumer base: wealthy urbanites who are willing to fork out luxury car prices to become early adopters of the first electric car in history to top 200 miles in range.
And as the map above shows, the boutique electric car company based in Palo Alto, Calif., is about six stations shy of offering a corridor between New York and Los Angeles. The reason Tesla is building Supercharger stations across the large western states is because the company’s directors made a strategic decision to connect Los Angeles with Chicago. To do so, the corridor must cut in the northeasterly direction from L.A. following major interstates, which takes the route though Wyoming and South Dakota. Lusk is just one link in a chain that has little to do with conquering the “Heartland” of America.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in September that he plans to take a coast-to-coast road trip with his family relying solely on his Supercharger stations. So far this trip would be impossible. (Click here to read about five round-trips that were possible last month relying solely on Superchargers.) But at the rate at which Tesla is building these $500,000 stations, it’s only a matter of weeks if not days before a Model S owner will be able to travel from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles to Vancouver without paying for fuel. And if they want, they can stop by Lusk, grab a bite, maybe visit nearby Mount Rushmore, and spend some of that money they saved to help the local economy.