There's No Stopping Tesla's Electric-Charging Infrastructure

Whether you like it or not, Tesla Motors is building out the charging infrastructure to support mass-market adoption of its electric vehicles.

Tesla's West Coast road trip last week. Source: Tesla Motors official Twitter account.

It begins with a 1,750-mile road trip
This Wednesday Tesla embarked on a journey from San Diego to Vancouver in two Model S sedans, powered only by Tesla Superchargers. According to Tesla's Oct. 30 press release, the drive marks the completion of supercharging the West Coast corridor that allows Model S owners to travel for free (assuming they opted to pay up front to enable the service) "between San Diego, California and Vancouver, British Columbia."

The release continues:

With stations along U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate 5, the West Coast's key routes, cities and destinations are connected by Tesla Superchargers. Model S customers can drive between San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver for free with minimal stops. More than 99 percent of Californians and 87 percent of Oregon and Washington owners are now within 200 miles of a Supercharger.

Model S charging. Source: Tesla Motors.

Tesla's expansion has seemingly taken place overnight. At the beginning of this year, Superchargers were a rare commodity -- even on the West Coast. And based on Tesla's plans, the rapid expansion won't be slowing down any time soon. According to a Tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday, the "East Coast Supercharger network should be complete in a few months." It will take Model S owners from Miami to Montreal, he told his followers on Twitter.

It appears that Tesla wasn't kidding around when they announced on May 30 that its Supercharger network would stretch across the continent within one year, covering most of the population of the U.S. and Canada. Five months into the plan, it looks as realistic as ever. By 2015, Tesla plans for its Supercharger network to reach 98% of the U.S. population. 

Tesla's planned U.S. and Canada Supercharger network for 2015. Both red and gray dots indicate planned charging stations. Source: Tesla Motors Website.

Of course the plans expand beyond the U.S., too. Already completing its network in Norway, Tesla plans to provide coverage for 100% of the population of Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, and Luxembourg by the end of 2014. Plus it expects to build out its charging infrastructure for 90% of the population of England, Wales, and Sweden within the same time frame.

Notably, these charging stations are far better than most other charging stations. On average, they are 20 times faster than public charging stations; they can provide a half-charge for the 265-mile-range battery of the Model S in 20 minutes and an 80% charge in 40 minutes.

Laying the foundation for Tesla's affordable electric car?
While the infrastructure will certainly make long-distance travel for its Model S owners far easier, the aggressiveness of the expansion is likely an effort to lay down the charging network to drive sales of its more affordable car, commonly referred to as the Gen III. Tesla has said the more affordable car, to be priced at about $35,000, could launch as early as 2016.

Meanwhile, there's no stopping Tesla from taking a 1,750 mile road trip. Expect another road trip on the East Coast in a few months.

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The article There's No Stopping Tesla's Electric-Charging Infrastructure originally appeared on

Fool contributor Daniel Sparks has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Danny Bailey

wow, really uninformed comment from gigantor. The supercharger stations could easily be expanded if they see that some are way more popular than others. Your car's dashboard also tells you if there any available chargers at the station you want, or any other available public stations for that matter. (There's quite a few apps for this as well), so you can visit the nearest one with free plugs. Furthermore, the stations are all solar powered, thus would be MORE useful during a blackout. Also, for example my dad has solar power on his roof and lives in an area of town with frequent blackouts (as in, monthly). He's the only one in the neighborhood who never has to worry about it. Also, gas isn't so great in a crisis either, remember the crazy hours-long gas station lines in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy? Our entire society teeters on the edge of failure with these old infrastructures and dinosaur technologies. It's long overdue that we invest in tech that help more ppl function independently and sustainably, especially during a crisis.

December 16 2013 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Supercharging is OK only if you assume you dont have to wait on line for the charger. Ever been on a gasoline line with 5 or more cars in front of you ? 30 minutes x 6 (including your car). 3 hours added to the trip to grandma. What happens if there are millions of EV's ?

What happens when there is a blackout ? At least we could still get gas for our cars.

What happens if there is a blackout and you have millions of EV's ? The lines outside of the blackout zone will be dozens of cars long.

November 27 2013 at 9:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply