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EV range: Has Tesla cracked it?

2013-06-04 10:12

CROSS-COUNTRY TRIPS SOON A REALITY: With its new supercharging network, Tesla says drivers of its Model S will be able to cross the US without fear of being stranded. Image: Wheels24

NEW YORK - Electric cars, while great for the environment, have two severe limitations - price and range. Has battery supercar-maker Tesla solved the range problem?

Most automakers seem more concerned with producing new battery models than building the infrastructure needed to support them.

Imagine the strain on Eskom should electric vehicles become popular in SA?


To tackle the issue of electric vehicle range, US automaker Tesla says it will create an charging network in the US and Canada making cross-continental travel by electric car feasible in 2014. It will grow the number of charging stations it runs from eight to 100.

Tesla's Model S (equivalent of R687 000) has a claimed range of *335km or three hours when fully charged and, the automaker says, its supercharging stations are 10 times as faster than most public charging stations and that will enable Model S drivers to go overland from Los Angeles to New York with 20-30 minute stops for recharges every three hours or so."

(Wheels24 reader TONY ROBINSON points out Tesla's supercharging network will be even better than predicted, especially if the charging stations were introduced in South Africa)


The automaker claims its supercharger can recharge its Model S to 50% of its battery capacity in 20 to 30 minutes or 100% in about an hour. In practical application this would mean a trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg (1400km or 14 hours) would be covered in 18 hours given four stops.

Currently Tesla has eight supercharger stations in California and on the US East Coast. It has plans to add four stations in California before the end of 2013. More will be added from June 2013 to allow drivers to travel from Vancouver, British Columbia, Seattle and Portland as well as from Austin to Dallas. Stations will also be available in Illinois and Colorado.


Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the stations would always be free for owners of its large-battery Model S. Owners of the lower-capacity version would have to pay for recharges.

Musk said most Tesla customers did not know about the supercharger stations and their existence would not have much of an impact on the company's current sales of 20 000 a year. "They want to know that they have that ability to do so, and at a moment's notice, to go wherever they want," he added. "I think it's really important for accessing a broader audience."

Tesla said by the end of 2013 it should have charging stations in most metro areas, with coast-to-coast travel available from 2014.

In 2014 the automaker expects to have charging stations within reach of 80% of drivers in the US and Canada and 98% by 2015.

Tesla said new technology was being tested that would will allow its cars to be fully recharged in about 20 minutes. The technology would be available at stations before the end of 2013.


Earlier in 2013, Wheels24 reported on Jason Kavanagh, engineering editor at the research firm edmunds.com, stating that battery-only electric vehicles were unlikely to get past 1% of the US market, even by 2040.

Kavanagh said: "Sitting around for eight hours waiting for your (Nissan) Leaf to charge up is not exactly a selling point. EV's have a sitting-on-your-ass factor that conventional cars do not."

"You would need a multitude of small nuclear power stations to support that recharging."

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*The actual figure accodring to Tesla is 335km for its 65kw variant. Apologies for any confusion

Read more on:    tesla  |  elon musk  |  canada  |  south africa  |  usa  |  electric cars  |  environment  |  green

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