COVER: The Tesla charging station at Premium Outlets. HAYS FREE PRESS PHOTO by MOSES LEO III
by MOSES LEO III
It’s a concept ripped out of a sci-fi film–a car traveling long distances on just a few hours charge of electricity. But what was once a 1950s era fantasy is now a reality. Travel to San Marcos and see for yourself.
Last week, the Tesla Motors Company, which designs and builds electric cars, opened their first “supercharger” station near Premium Outlets. The location is the first to open in Texas.
Tesla, which began operations in 2003, designs and builds the Model S. The car can go 300 miles on a single charge of electricity.
According to Alexis Georgeson, spokeswoman at Tesla Motors, a 240 volt outlet can fully charge a Model S in eight hours. At a supercharger station, a Model S can get half a charge in only twenty minutes.
Georgeson said the difference is how the car is being charged. Rather than using alternate current, the supercharger pumps direct current straight to the battery.
The higher rate of amperage speeds up charging time. A 20-minute charge at the San Marcos location can put out 150 miles worth of electricity.
“It is the fastest [electric charging station] to date in the world,” Georgeson said.
Why San Marcos? According to Georgeson, it was all about location.
“It’s halfway between Austin and San Antonio,” she said.
The midpoint provides a base for Central Texas Tesla owners to charge up. With Austin embracing and investing in technologies such as Tesla Motors, placing a supercharger in San Marcos was a no brainer.
“Owners who drive between Austin and San Antonio can stop by [the supercharger] and charge for 20 minutes,” Georgeson said. “In that time, they can stop by the Premium Outlet Mall, do some shopping, and be on their way.”
Tesla plans to open at least five supercharger stations across Texas by the end of the year. “Coast-to-coast” coverage is slated to occur in the same time frame. Ideally, owners of a Model S can bounce from supercharger stations without having to go elsewhere. The service is free to all Tesla owners.
However, getting a Tesla may be the biggest challenge.
According to Texas law, car sales can only be conducted at a franchised dealership. Tesla sells their cars directly to consumers.
While there are two galleries in the state —one near the Domain in Austin and the Galleria in Houston — no sales are allowed. In addition, customers cannot test drive the vehicles, nor can employees talk about pricing.
“It is difficult to do business [in Texas],” Georgeson said.
Tesla reached out to Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) to file bills on their behalf in the 83rd Texas Legislature. Estes filed SB 1659, while Rodriguez filed HB 3351. Both would allow U.S. based manufacturers that make 100 percent electric vehicles to become dealers, without having to have a franchise.
However, both bills stalled. With the next Legislative session to occur in 2015, the company now finds themselves in a “frozen point.”
Pricing also is a mitigating factor. A base Model S Tesla starts at $60,000.
Despite the limitations, Georgeson said the Tesla market is strong in Texas. She said the company will continue to teach people about the cars at its two in-state galleries.
However, those interested in the car must go out of state to test drive it. Otherwise, she said customers will have to purchase online and “take a leap of faith.”
If they do, at least they know they have a supercharger nearby.
MOSES LEO III reports for the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.Email | Print