Tesla’s boss Elon Musk has announced a major acceleration of its rollout of charging stations. Its Supercharger stations already serve large chunks of the West and East coasts, with facilities covering California and Nevada in the West, and from DC to Boston in the East. Now the plan is a network of cross country stations that will offer a fast charge in 20-30 minutes to give another 200 miles of driving time. The recent demise of Better Place suggests that fast charging will beat battery replacement as the main way of solving the electric car’s limited range problem.
Tesla has already solved the image problem of electric cars. Whatever their efficiency might be in terms of costs per mile, they were perceived as boring, being mostly small family saloons fitted with lots of batteries and underpowered. Tesla’s range are head-turners with impressive performance statistics.
Elon Musk is taking a bold step in the spirit of American invention, by providing the infrastructure and using its availability to boost demand. This is what happened to electric lighting and early telephones. Once the network was in place, at both cost and risk, along came the customers. With luck, he’ll have guessed right. The future of the automobile is probably electric in the near future, using electricity from gas-fuelled power stations, although intriguingly Musk plans to use solar power for many of his cross country Superchargers. Cost projections suggest that photovoltaic power might be competing with gas on cost in the quite near future. This is all quite exciting, and set to become more so once Google does the driving for us so we can concentrate on more interesting things as we head on our way.
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