Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tesla Continues to Make News with Model S and Superchargers

You may have read the recent New York Times rave review of the Tesla Model S sedan.  If not, you should.  You may find yourself putting a Model S on your win-the-lottery wish list!
Perhaps a more important Tesla development – from a transportation policy point of view – is Tesla’s launch of “Supercharger” fast charging stations.  Six of these high-tech, solar powered fast chargers have already opened at strategic intervals on California highways.  They may (or may not) be part of a solution to a problem a lot of people (including me) have been struggling with: how do you design, fund, build, and operate fast charging stations on Interstate corridors?  Slower chargers are fine for overnight or daytime charging but are a problem for longer-distance travel.  Fast chargers, which can “fuel up” and EV in half an hour or so, are expensive and require special equipment.  Without a network of fast chargers, users of electric vehicles might consider themselves stranded on electrified islands in urban centers.
The Tesla Superchargers look very promising.  Unfortunately, they also raise some serious technical issues (taking another step away from standardization in fast charging) along with an unproven (some would use harsher terms) business plan.  Still, these are bold and visionary steps, and I wish Elon Musk and the Tesla folks well (and if I win the lottery I will buy a Model S for sure!).
You can look here for the Supercharger launch video, complete with pyrotechnics, or here for Motor Trend’s more sober account.

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