Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley-based electric-car manufacturer, has announced plans to spread its supercharger network across the USA.
Within the next 12 months, drivers of the company’s highly acclaimed Tesla Model S car should be able to travel long distances across the continent, for free, indefinitely.
The company’s CEO is Elon Musk, whose past successes include the company SpaceX, which made impressive progress with its spaceship Dragon.
If the Tesla plans come to fruition, it would represent another step in the development of electromobility, which has so far been confined mostly to metropolitan areas and limited by the time needed to charge the car’s powering battery.
"It is very important to address this issue of long-distance travel," said Musk. "When people buy a car, they're also buying a sense of freedom, the ability to go anywhere they want and not feel fettered."
Tesla superchargers enable drivers to travel for about three hours and charge their cars fully during a 20 to 30 minute break. The vehicles can also utilise ordinary electric current available at households; this, however, takes up to eight hours.
The Tesla Supercharger network project was launched in October 2012 and has enabled an estimated one million miles of driving since. So far, the network covers California and Nevada on the US west coast and the Washington DC to Boston area in the east.
By the end of June 2013, Tesla Motors wants to triple the number of Tesla Supercharger stations, adding extra facilities in California and securing coverage in the north west along the way from Vancouver to Portland. Further expansion will take place in Texas and Colorado. Within six months the Tesla Supercharger network will connect most of the major metropolitan areas in the US and Canada, making it possible to travel across the whole continent.
The company hopes that, within a year, every American should have convenient access to supercharging stations. And, as drivers are not paying for the service, it may well give pause for thought for the conventional petroleum industry.
The Tesla Model S car costs around £46,000, making it a competitor of luxury German brands such BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
Tesla is conducting further research trying to make the supercharging technology more efficient to enable cutting down time needed to charge the battery.