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Tesla Expands Its Supercharger EV Highway Through the Northsate

The number of registered hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) in the U.S. grew to nearly 2 million in 2012, when the U.S. also held the world record for plug-in electric car sales. Between 2008 and April 2013, 100,000 highway-capable plug-in electric cars were sold in the U.S.

Bay area motor company Tesla is a leader in fuel efficient equivalency and innovation. Their latest venture – their Supercharger Corridor – spans the West Coast from San Diego up to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Last week the company featured ribbon cuttings at two of their northstate Supercharger stations – in the parking lot of Rabobank off I-5 in Corning and at the Best Western Treehouse in Mt. Shasta.

The Supercharger Corridor consists of 16 stations across the West Coast from San Diego up to Vancouver, British Columbia. Other corridors in progress will run up the East Coast from Florida to Connecticut and a cross-country corridor to allow drivers to go from Los Angeles to New York.

Geared towards Tesla’s new Model S sedan, these charging stations are situated near convenient amenities such as roadside diners, cafes, banks and shopping centers. Charging time is a breakthrough for the electric vehicle industry – about 20 minutes for a half charge.

“We’re spacing (the stations) about 120 to 200 miles apart,” said Tesla spokesperson Alexis Georgeson. Corning and Mt. Shasta were obvious choices, she said. Corning is a mid-point between San Diego and Vancouver. And Mt. Shasta is the perfect distance.

Both locales can accommodate the Model S’s 60 Kwh model (with its range of 208 miles per charge) and its 85 Kwh battery pack (which has a 265 mile range).“It has to do with mileage and location to well-traveled highways,” Georgeson said.Introduced to the US in 2012, the Model S is the world’s first premium electric sedan built from the ground up. Its unique innovations include a power train located below the car’s floorboard, creating a low center of gravity, the most energy-dense battery pack in the industry, best-in-class aerodynamics, cargo space in the front AND the back, the ability to go 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds and the longest range of any production electric vehicle in the world.The Model S offers a fun, velvety smooth drive. The car’s 17 inch tall GPS system features Google Maps conveniently located on the driver’s right side and its cockpit type dashboard offers instant directions as you near your destination. Tap a switch to shift and start or stop the motor with a flick of a button. And take your foot off the gas and the car immediately slows down.One of the most important things, said Georgeson, is that “we’ve built a ‘no-compromise’ EV at Tesla.”

“People still have a preconceived notion (that) electric vehicles run out of energy,” Georgeson says, “they’re not fun to drive, that if you want a zero emission vehicle, you have to make a ton of sacrifices.”

“This car (rivals) the BMW M5, Audi 6’s and Porsche Panameras,” she said. It seats five adults and has options for two rear-facing seats in the back. And there’s practically no maintenance required except replacing tires or wiper blades.

“We’re working hard to make it the best car you can buy and it happens to be electric,” Georgeson said.

Only Tesla customers can currently take advantage of Supercharger services.

Other OEM’s aren’t building road-trip capable cars, said Geogeson. Their battery packs aren’t large enough to make that distance. And their battery packs couldn’t handle 120 Kw of power direct current into them.

Tesla will launch its pilot battery pack swap program in the next few months. This will let drivers swap out their Model S battery in 90 seconds and will cost about the price of a tank of gas.

All this is to help Tesla owners feel comfortable about taking longer road trips without worry.

“Everybody needs this as far as charging,” Georgeson said. “After you’ve driven 265 miles, you want to stop for a while,” she said. “You go into Starbucks, to into the bank, then get back on the road.”

An environmental journalist, professional blogger and professional speaker, for six years Debra has penned a newspaper column, Distinctly Green, profiling the newest green innovations, technologies and services. Debra writes for numerous websites, including SierraClubGreenHome.comBeamingsun.comEnvirothink (her own blog) and the internationally-acclaimed Red Ferret Journal (where she’s a contributor and their Eco Editor).