Makers of electric vehicles (EVs) still have some kinks to work out when it comes to charging the battery. The biggest kink is taking an EV from something you can only drive around town to a car you can use on long trips. Tesla Motors, the only American all-EV car manufacturer, is working on a fix. Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed during an earnings call earlier this month that the company will launch its first SuperCharger station on the I-5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
At the official launch of the 2012 Model S Sedan, Musk said that Tesla planned to install super charging stations along major freeways such as the I-5 between Canada and Mexico. Clearly, Tesla plans for SuperChargers to be along the I-5, which would make it much easier for Model S owners to go on a road trip.
The Model S Sedan, a luxury seven-seat sedan set to come off of the production line in about eight months, is capable of going 300 miles on a single charge. During the earnings call, Musk said that the 90 kilowatt SuperCharger station could add up to 150 miles of range to the Model S in less than 30 minutes. The two cities are almost 400 miles apart, so the SuperCharger station will allow Model S owners to charge their cars enough to travel between the Bay Area and Southern California.
Owners of Model S sedans with 160 or 230 mile battery packs will not be as fortunate, Green Car Reports points out. Owners of other EVs, such as the 2012 Nissan Leaf, will also not be as fortunate for their EVs will not be compatible with Tesla’s SuperCharger station.
There is an alternative to rapid charging stations and that is battery swapping stations. Tesla did say back in March that the Model S will have a swappable battery. However, Tesla is clearly investing in rapid charging. Tesla CTO JB Straubel said in March that how fast battery swapping develops “is a bit of an open question.” So, Tesla is not ruling out battery swapping, but placing its proverbial bets on rapid charging, for now.
EVs are still in the infancy stage. It will be very interesting to see just how they develop, particularly in terms of battery charging. It must be kept in mind that Tesla cars come with a price tag that is out of the reach of most Americans, particularly during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Since only Tesla’s cars can use its SuperCharger stations, what other EV manufacturers do may ultimately matter more.
Photo from Tesla Motors