With a little planning, it’s fairly easy to make a road trip of a few hundred miles in an electric car, provided of course you’ve got somewhere to charge on the way. Even if you happen to own a car equipped with rapid charging technology like the CHAdeMO connectors found on the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-Miev, however, driving more than about 300 miles in an EV does start to get a little tiring.
But as a a pair of Tesla Model S cars and their drivers are about to prove by undertaking a 1,750 mile road trip from San Diego, California to Vancouver British Columbia, 300 miles is nothing.
Having just left this morning, the road trip is a publicity stunt by Tesla Motors to highlight the completion of its west-coast network of Supercharger stations. Capable of providing a Tesla Model S with half a charge in 20 minutes or adding 200 miles of driving range in just 30 minutes, the newly-completed west-coast Supercharger corridor makes it as easy to travel long-ditsance in an EV as it is to take a gasoline car.
Leaving San Diego, the brace of Teslas will head north through California, visiting Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Sacramento before crossing the border into Oregon. It will then stop in Portland, Oregon, before heading north into Seattle, Washington and reaching its final destination of Vancouver, BC, just over the Canadian border.
In total, the west coast Supercharger corridor is made up of sixteen different Supercharger locations, the majority of sites being located between Los Angeles and San Francisco. While we suspect the two Model S sedans taking part on Tesla’s road trip will call at each and every Supercharger location on this celebratory road trip from south to north, we think its theoretically possible to easily make the 1,750 mile trip by stopping at no more than nine supercharge locations if you happen to be at the wheel of a Tesla Model S equipped with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack.
Although today marks the first time it’s been possible to travel from one end of the contiguous United States from north to south using only Tesla’s Supercharger network, Tesla promises drivers on the east coast will soon be able to do a similar trip, traveling from Boston in the north all the way down to Miami in the south. And if that isn’t enough, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he will embark on a Model S road-trip with his sons later this year from coast-to-coast, making use of a string of Supercharger stations passing from west to east via Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania on the way to New York. Along with the ability to travel coast-to-coast by the end of 2013, Tesla says most U.S. metropolitan areas will be served by Superchargers.
Within a year, Tesla says 80 percent of the U.S. will be within range of a Supercharger station, with a massive 98 percent of population in the contiguous U.S. within range of a Supercharger by 2015. Similarly, Supercharger rollout in Europe is expected to follow a similar pattern, with most — if not all — of north and western Europe covered by the end of 2014.
As well as its phenomenal speed — 120 kilowatts in the U.S. and 135 kilowatts in Europe — Tesla’s network of Supercharger stations stand out against other charging networks due to the way in which they operate. Instead of charging a membership fee, per-use fee, or requiring those who want to use it carry an RFID membership card, Tesla makes it Supercharger stations free to anyone with a compatible Tesla. There are no membership cards or payment hassles, and owners can use the Superchargers as much or as little as they like for free.
With the cars already reported to be charging at Tesla’s Hawthorn Supercharger, the road trip is well and truly underway. As you might expect however, Tesla is keeping fans abreast of the progress of the two cars as they travel from south to north, using the hashtag #DriveFree on Twitter and other social media networks.
We wish Tesla well, and hope it won’t be long before those of us on the other side of the Atlantic can make long-distance trips that easily in an all-electric car.
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