By Andrew Price
Range anxiety--the concern that small batteries and sparse charging stations will limit electric cars to short trips--has long been a cited as an impediment to the broad adoption of electric vehicles.
But life may have just become a little less anxious for drivers of the Tesla Model S sedan. Elon Musk's electric car company opened two new "Supercharger stations" on the East Coast last month, one in Milford, Connecticut, and the other in Wilmington, Delaware.
These new stations have 480-volt charging units that can add 150 miles of range to a Model S in 30 minutes. That's about five times as fast as a high-power wall charger.
That means that if you have a version of the Model S with a larger battery, you could make the 450-mile trip from Boston to Washington, D.C., with just two half-hour stops (which you'd probably want anyway on such a long drive). According to the folks at Green Car Reports, the process of actually using these stations is "simplicity itself." And there's a nice additional perk: the charging is free.
Tesla already has six of these fast-charging stations in California, unveiled last September, which form a network that covers most of the state. These stations in Delaware and Connecticut are the first on the East Coast, but Tesla's long-term plan is to develop a Supercharger network that covers high-traffic routes across the U.S., and to begin installing stations in Asia and Europe as well.
For now, however, it's unlikely that any of these stations is getting a lot of use. That's partly because they use Tesla's own proprietary fast-charging system and only work with the Model S (they don't even work with the company's earlier Roadster model). But Christina Ra, a Tesla spokeswoman, told the New York Times that, "In the future, all Tesla models will be able to supercharge." That would include the Model X crossover, due for delivery in 2014.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.