Range anxiety is a thing of the past for Tesla Model S electric vehicle owners.
Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, just announced an expansion of the firm's Supercharger fast-charging network today that "makes the entire country within the range of a Supercharger," with "a dramatic increase in the deployment of our supercharger network" and "fast-charge capability throughout the country."
Musk's high-flying company will be installing Superchargers every 80 to 100 miles on major routes throughout the U.S. and Canada. Musk spoke of giving people unconstrained "freedom of travel" with an eventual 200 stations to be built over the next two years.
Musk expects all the Supercharger stations will eventually have solar panels charging large-scale storage. The large-scale battery units are a half megawatt-hour in capacity and "capable of putting out a megawatt if need be," said Musk. Musk also noted that Tesla is doing this in partnership with utilities to provide some measure of "buffering."
The CEO said that the charging stations can operate off-grid and Tesla Model S owners will be able to travel the nation, only mildly inconvenienced by "the zombie apocalypse." In fact, Musk spoke of planning a road trip for himself and his family later this year that would re-trace a cross-country trip he had made in a gas-powered vehicle twenty years ago. Musk alluded to Chevy Chase/Clark Griswold adventures as being the big-screen equivalent of the Musk family's road trip.
All Model S vehicles are supercharger-capable. The Model S automatically routes the driver to the nearest Supercharger when charge is low; these directions will be updated as more chargers are added to the network.
In addition to expanding the network from the current California and Nevada routes and the D.C.-to-Boston corridor, Tesla has also improved its charging technology. The charge time has been reduced to about 25 minutes to bring the battery back up to about two-thirds full. The new charging technology is in beta mode.
One more thing: the charging is free. Musk said "It's actually free charging. Drive anywhere in the country and leave your wallet behind."
Planned Locations of Tesla Charging Stations by 2015