Seeking to beef up functionality and take one more arrow out of the quiver of naysayers, Tesla Motors today announced it will expand its Supercharger network to most U.S. and Canadian metro markets over the next year. That would enable Tesla owners to make the cross-country drive from New York to Los Angeles for the first time. The Silicon Valley-based company's current Supercharger networks stretches from Washington D.C. to Boston on the East Coast and California and Nevada on the West Coast.
Tesla also announced improvements to the Supercharger technology that would enable owners of the company's Model S sedan to eventually cut charging times in half. According to Automotive News, CEO Elon Musk said the fast-charge stations are being upgraded from 90 kilowatts to 120 kilowatts, meaning they will be able to return most of the vehicle's range in 20 to 25 minutes -- roughly twice as fast as the current charging time. The upgraded chargers will be available within the next few months, he said.
The price of Tesla shares surged this month after the electric car company announced its first quarterly profit and said it had completed paying off a $465 million federal loan.
But the $70,000 starting price of the Model S -- and worries about recharging the batteries in all-electric vehicles -- still give many consumers pause. Mr. Musk got into a public war with New York Times reporter John Broder earlier this year when Mr. Broder claimed the Model S he was testing couldn't hold a charge in cold weather and at one point ground to a halt. Mr. Musk called the charges fake and argued that the negative press cost Tesla $100 million in market value.
Aside from public relations and social media, Tesla has done little if any advertising or marketing. Spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson said: "We don't do any paid advertising. We rely on word-of-mouth and the stores we put in malls."
Tesla now has stores at 24 shopping malls across the U.S. and 35 worldwide.