Tesla's plan to electrify Europe
Tesla at the Frankfurt Motor show. Unlike other electric cars, the Model S is aimed at the executive car buyer and is focused as much on performance as economy. (Photo: Tesla)
Published Wednesday, September 11, 2013 1:20PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 11, 2013 6:24PM EDT
Tesla has revealed that its first European supercharging stations are already up and running and that a pan-European network will be completed by the end of 2014.
To mark its arrival on European shores, Tesla installed one of its supercharging stations at the venue for this year's Frankfurt Motor Show and during its press conference revealed that similar stations are already in place across Norway's most commonly used roads and highways, despite the fact that the first Norwegian Tesla Model S customer only took delivery of the car in August.
But that's just the start. The company claims that by the end of next year, 100 percent of the population of Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg will also live within 320 km of a Supercharger station, (well within the car's driving range) where they will be able to recharge their Tesla free-of charge.
Just like other electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf and the recently launched BMW i3, the Tesla Model S uses an electric motor and a battery pack rather than a conventional internal combustion engine. And just like its competitors, when the batteries are flat, it needs to be plugged into the mains to recharge again before the car can travel any further. But that's where the similarities end.
Unlike its competitors, the Tesla can travel 500km on a single charge and, when plugged into a special Tesla supercharging station, battery power reserves can be topped up by 50 percent in just 20 minutes. Other electric cars need to be left overnight to charge the batteries.
"Tesla's Supercharger network is a game changer for electric vehicles and will offer Model S owners free, fast charging for convenient long distance drives throughout Europe," said JB Straubel, Chief Technical Officer at Tesla. "All our Superchargers are located near amenities like roadside restaurants, cafes and shopping centres so that road trippers can stop for a quick meal while their Model S charges for free."
As a result, despite the country's love of monstrous V8 engines, the Tesla Model S and its supporting supercharger network have been a huge hit in the US, and now the company is hoping to have a similar impact in Europe. Indeed the company's first European customers in Norway, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland took delivery of their cars in August.
Tesla's co-founder and CEO, Elon Musk, is expecting the car to catch on quickly. "The focus of Model S on design, engineering and performance makes it very well suited for the European market," he said. "This year has already been one of tremendous growth and expansion throughout Europe for Tesla and Model S. Before the end of this year, our European operations will expand even further, with new stores and service centres."
As well as full coverage of the aforementioned countries, Tesla hopes to extend the network to offer 90 percent coverage to English, Welsh and Swedish Tesla owners by the end of 2014.
This year's Frankfurt Motor Show is an important one for showcasing electric, hybrid and super-efficient cars and their supporting technologies.
As well as Tesla's first appearance, BMW finally took the wraps off its production-ready version of its much teased i8 all-electric supercar, while Volkswagen presented its hybrid XL1 which combines a three-cylinder diesel engine with an electric motor in order to offer unrivaled fuel economy of 1 liter per 100km traveled. Even the world's most elite brands, including Porsche, McLaren and Ferrari, have started to embrace the battery as a means of reducing their cars' impact on the environment.