Tesla Triples Supercharger Network, Eyeing Entire Country
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In response to an EV infrastructure that has basically failed to improve at all in the past five years, Tesla Motors will immediately triple the network of their Supercharger stations and could have hundreds of stations running by the end of 2013.
By the end of June, Tesla expects to have new locations in California, plus the Pacific Northwest, Texas, Illinois and Colorado and four locations on the East Coast for the first time. In six months they expect range to increase into Canada, plus Arizona, South Carolina and Georgia. By then, Tesla says, it will be possible to drive a Tesla Model S from New York to Los Angeles. The big news here is not the triumph for Tesla, but rather the utter embarrassment for every other automaker in the world.
Infrastructure and driving range have always been two of the largest obstacles in convincing the public to buy Electric Vehicles. They are two of the chief reasons, in fact, that automakers like the Big Three dragged their feet and refused to build EVs for many years. People have often looked at Tesla sideways, because no matter how good their cars are, it means nothing without infrastructure.
But where the auto industry saw disaster, Tesla saw opportunity. They are now the leaders in the largest EV infrastructure project ever, and will reap all of the benefits. The Tesla Supercharger systems work only for Tesla vehicles, meaning that owners of the Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf or any other EV that isn’t the Tesla Model S can’t use them. Essentially, Tesla figured out how to open the country up to their customers while leaving the door shut on the competition.
This will hurt the auto industry much more than it helps Tesla, and it’s no one’s fault but their own. The prospect of building a nationwide EV infrastructure seems incredibly daunting – and true, we have to wait and see whether it actually all works out – but someone saw fit to make it possible. If GM or Honda or a Toyota-Ford partnership to build similar charging stations had begun five years ago, infrastructure and driving range wouldn’t even be an issue by now. Instead, they didn’t take initiative and are still reluctant to build electric cars. That’s just fine by Tesla.
Today’s announcement forces us to consider whether automakers that have griped about lack of infrastructure and technology costs couldn’t build electric cars, or simply wouldn’t.
It would appear to be the latter, and they’re paying for it now.
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