Getting a charge, coast to coast

GRETEL DAUGHERTY/The Daily Sentinel—Jamie Chavez, left, and Dan Erwin, employees of Taylor Fence, build a wall around the electrical boxes that supply the new Tesla chargers at Mesa Mall. Few if any Grand Junction-area drivers are behind the wheel of the electric Tesla
Model S, which starts at $70,000. For people elsewhere who are, the company is setting up a nationwide network of free charging stations.

Luxury all-electric car maker Tesla Motors is in the process of creating a nationwide network of free quick-charging stations for their early-adopter customers, and the network has added a node out at the Mesa Mall.

Not that many local drivers will be plugging in any time soon … there are currently no registered Tesla electric cars in Mesa County, officials with the local department of motor vehicles said.

The six-stall Tesla Supercharger station on the western side of Mesa Mall is more like a perk for Tesla car owners. Only Tesla Model S vehicles can use the Supercharger stations (at least until the company introduces their Model X line of SUVs), while other electric cars on the road will need to get their juice from somewhere else.

“The coast-to-coast Supercharger route is quickly becoming a reality,” said Tesla spokesman Patrick Jones. “We expect to achieve our first cross-country route by the end of January. Our goal is to connect all major cities and tourist destinations within the United States, enabling free long distance travel for our owners.”

Model S cars — which start with a base cost of $70,000, minus a $7,500 federal tax credit and a possible $6,000 credit from the state of Colorado — can charge about half their battery in 20 minutes, which will get you about 150 miles, the company says. A full charge will take about an hour.

Jones called the Supercharger stations “the fastest charging technology on the planet.”

Tesla owners can browse stores in the mall or grab a bite to eat while their ride charges back up. Car owners can check the status of the charging process through their smartphone.

The station at the mall is not quite operational, but the official opening is expected within two weeks.

It’s tough to get a handle on just how many Teslas are on the road in Colorado these days. A straw poll by Colorado Tesla owner Rod Hoffman counted just north of 50 Teslas across the state, but he suspects the number is approaching several hundred.

If you’re interested in picking up your own Model S, Tesla has a retail store near the Park Meadows mall on the Front Range.

Other charging stations along I-70 can be found in Glenwood Springs and in Silverthorne.


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