When Tesla Motors announced its plans to spread its Supercharger network over the whole USA in just one year’s time, I was really impressed. I am no real car geek and definitely not in the league to purchase the company’s acclaimed Tesla Model S car, which is about as expensive as a luxurious German Mercedes, BMW or Audi. And I don’t even live in the USA. But I have always been an eco geek and with the constantly increasing prices of oil and the omnipresent air pollution, I am really looking forward to the time when all the vehicles in the streets will be electric, clean and quiet.
With the recent Tesla Motors announcement, it seems that the new era in motoring might be closer than previously expected, especially when the company’s CEO is Elon Musk – the very same man who has virtually unlocked space for commercial companies with the triumph of his Falcon rocket and the Dragon capsule becoming a regular supplier for the International Space Station.
After manufacturing a car that many consider “the best American-built” vehicle in decades and which has definitely raised the bar for all other electric car manufacturers, one can expect that Musk has a much more ambitious goal in mind (he has always had extremely ambitious goals.) And this goal might be nothing else than orchestrating the greatest revolution in motoring since the time of the visionary industrialist Henry Ford.
Let me put a bit of common sense into it. The biggest pain-in-the-ass of electromobility so far has been the time needed to fully charge the powering battery and the range the car can travel before it needs to be charged again. Because of this, the electric vehicles have so far been confined to metropolitan areas and used for short haul travelling. With the current plans, Tesla Motors is tackling just this. “It is very important to address this issue of long-distance travel,” Musk said on 30 May, 2013. “When people buy a car, they’re also buying a sense of freedom, the ability to go anywhere they want and not feel fettered.”
And there is more to it. Tesla Motors guarantees to Tesla Model S drivers that they will be able to charge their cars at any of the supercharging stations across the USA for free, indefinitely. If you happen to be in the position deciding on which luxurious car you want to buy and at the same price you could have a car which wouldn’t require you spending a cent on fuel and another one with the prospect of having to feed it costly gas every other day, which one would you choose?
Besides, the efficiency of a combustion engine is 40 % at best while the electric engines can offer up to 90 % fuel efficiency. Engineers say that generally, the electric engine is far less failure prone than the combustion engine as it doesn’t include any moving parts, resulting in lower maintenance costs.
To sum up, if I was making the decision between a Tesla Model S and an equivalent gas fueled Mercedes, I know which one I would have chosen, especially when Tesla Motors promises that within a year’s time I would be able to go anywhere and always find a convenient supercharging station where I could fully “feed” my car during a twenty minute coffee break. After arriving at my destination, I would charge the vehicle conventionally, overnight, using ordinary electric current.
I have no doubt that after conquering the US market, Tesla Motors will try to expand in Europe and I am really curious to see whether the revolution in electromobility is really going to take off so soon –to the great chagrin of petroleum industry bosses.
Based on a news story originally written for the E&T Magazine