Tesla Motors is establishing a network of 100 solar-powered supercharging stations for its electric vehicles across the United States by the end of 2015. The supercharging stations could provide three hours of highway driving range in just 30 minutes of charging. Tesla owners could use the stations for free.
According to Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, the supercharging stations are estimated to have a total cost of between $20 and $30 million for the entire network.
Each station, having between four and six charging ports, will be located at key highway rest stops near established restaurants, Musk disclosed. Tesla secretly built four stations in Southern California and just unveiled them operationally Monday night.
Musk disclosed that two more supercharging stations will start operations in early October, with the network expanding to Las Vegas, northern California and Oregon by next summer.
Musk added that within two years, the company would be able to cover most of the US. Following that, the carmaker would backfill areas to ensure that supercharging stations would be no more than 200 miles apart.
According to Musk, similar sized charging networks will be built in Europe and Asia starting next summer.
However, the supercharging stations will only work with Tesla Model S and future Tesla models since the 100-kilowatt charging current is too powerful for lesser battery packs. The supercharging stations will derive their power from solar panels mounted overhead, thanks to Musk's sister company, Solar City.
The solar panels will be able to generate more power than charging cars could draw, enabling stations to add to the electrical power grid even if cars are charging at night or in cloudy weather. Musk said they are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free “on pure sunlight."