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Even with Expansion, Tesla Supercharger Stations Still Lacking

Does Elon Musk secretly dislike the Midwest?

Becky Graebner


June 8, 2013 - 4:00 pm
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Charging Stations Today

In early April 2013, I wrote an article on why the electric car was not ready for prime-time use in the United States.  My reasons revolved around a large price-tag, questionable reliability, low-range batteries that require long periods to recharge, and lack of infrastructure in the U.S. to charge the cars.  Tesla, the beauty queen of EVs, and its lack of charging stations were the inspiration behind many of my problems with electric vehicles:

“[However] since stations are sparsely located in the Midwest, Dakotas, and Rockies (among other places), finding a place for your car to get its lightening juice may start to resemble a game of “Where’s Waldo?”

It seems Tesla realized that if it wanted real domination, it needed to expand its charging stations—and put pencil to paper to sketch out a possible solution.  Although a start, Tesla has a long way to go in order to both compete with gasoline and woo new buyers.

Note: Get ready to read lots of maps! Don’t worry, it’s good for you.

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All Comments   (5)
All Comments   (5)
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Those maps are nothing more than wishful thinking. It looks like they just took the optimal range and drew a circle of that diameter around each station.

I can see why they didn't put the chargers in cities. I think the idea is that the people living in those cities would plug in at home or work, where rapid charging isn't an issue, while visitors would plug in at their hotels. Realistic? Maybe not. But the entire electric car industry is predicated on unrealistic assumptions.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think they assume that the big city dwellers will use that ubiquitous transportation service known as "mass transit". But no charging stations in Chicago, Houston, Orlando, etc? Clearly they have not sat in traffic in any major city and news flash: buses and trains don't go to where the majority of people work.

Becky, it's Rockford, IL, not Rockville.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
After it went through the editors, I reread and saw that--but it was too late. Good catch! I'm assuming you are from the midwest?!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you consider that Tesla is likely to appeal more to buyers in warm climates (due to better battery life), I'm surprised the southern part of the country isn't better served. You definitely won't be able to cross the country through Texas, which is the route I used on my one cross-country road trip, anytime soon.

I don't know how important this really is, though. Most coast to coast trips will still be handled by aircraft, especially with the affluent audience likely to buy a Tesla. I didn't find my road trip particularly pleasant, and thanks to the cost of hotel stays, it was quite expensive compared to airfare. I think it's important that people be able to make road trips at the San Francisco to Los Angeles length and shorter, and that may be just fine with the existing supercharger network, since there's a huge void in the middle of the country where there just aren't many plausible trips of that length.

I'm sure Tesla was intelligent in putting together their network, because they have been intelligent in most things. It will be very interesting to see how things play out.

I agreed with your previous editorial that Tesla is quite an awesome achievement. It's true that it makes cars for the elite, not the masses, but in my opinion that's always a better start for new technology. Look at how horribly compromised cars like the Volt and Leaf were, to try and shoehorn the designs into relatively low price points. Cellphones started as products for the elite and now almost everyone has an iPhone or similar. Cars like the Model S are going to become much cheaper, just not now.

I have mixed feelings about the government subsidies to motor vehicle and solar technology companies, but I'm glad Tesla got its money and its chance to change the world. The money it got is pretty much a rounding error in the budget and it looks like it kickstarted something genuinely awesome.


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What do you think is wrong with the Volt or the Leaf?

In general I don't believe that hybrid or electric systems pay for themselves, it's all one or another variety of fraud, but by that same token I don't know that any of them are significantly better or worse than any of the others.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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