Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tesla files plans for charging station in Idaho Falls

An artist's rendition of a Tesla supercharging station.
I do not know of anyone in Idaho Falls who owns a Tesla, but I have good news for whoever might. Elon Musk’s car company has filed site plans with the City of Idaho Falls Building Department to build a supercharging station at Snake River Landing, just north of MacKenzie River Pizza.

Going back over City Council minutes, it appears that the project was approved Dec. 17, 2015, at the council’s regular meeting.

And if there aren’t a lot of Tesla owners right now, the news is bound to be of interest to people in other parts of the country who plan to visit this summer.

Excluding tax credits, a 2015 Tesla Model S 70D had a base price of just over $76,000, including the $1,200 destination charge. Up one rung of the ladder, the rear­-wheel-­drive Model S 85 started at about $81,000, while the all­-wheel-­drive 85D cost another $5k.

For the high-­horsepower Model S P85D, expect to shell out about $106,000, and with all the options (if you’ve got this kind of money to spend on a car, you probably don’t care, right?) you'll be looking at a luxury electric vehicle of $131,000.

The new Model 3 has a base sticker price of $35,000, and Forbes reported Friday that orders were nearing 400,000. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2017, but much depends on the company getting its 6-million-square-foot battery factory in Nevada built in time. (Link from NPR: A Rare Look Inside The 'Gigafactory' Tesla Hopes Will Revolutionize Energy Use).

Depending on the model, a Tesla can go 215 to 270 miles on a full charge. In Idaho so far, there are charging stations in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Twin Falls.

To charge an EV at home, the owner has to plug it in before going to bed. That’s because alternating current is being used. At a supercharging station it’s direct current that’s used, but it’s still not as fast as filling the tank and hitting the road. A charging session takes about half ­an ­hour, which is why Tesla puts its stations in locations where there are restaurants and stores nearby.

Last of all, a word of warning. If you own a Nissan Leaf, a Chevrolet Volt or any other EV you will not be able to charge it at a Tesla station. Nor will you be able to charge a Bolt, Chevy’s newest offering, which has a 200-mile range comparable to Tesla’s, a sticker price in the $30,000 range and is available now.

There are a lot of details to be worked out in the standardization of EV equipment. You might be surprised to know that a lot of the groundwork is being done right here in Idaho Falls, at the Idaho National Laboratory. President Obama even gave INL’s work on electric vehicles a shout out earlier this year during his weekly radio address.