Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tesla Motors Comes to the San Joaquin Valley

A Tesla – either model, I’m not picky – is my dream car. I could go 200+ miles on a full charge, and make it across the country using the Supercharge stations that have been strategically placed along a Northern route, with more concentrated near big cities.

Unfortunately, I don’t now, and probably never will, have the means to support or validate a purchase with such a hefty price tag. In the San Joaquin Valley the roads boast a fairly good number of Chevy Volts and Nissan Leafs, but only a handful of Teslas. Teslas are far too expensive for most of those in the Valley and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, has not shown much interest in the more underserved areas of America. The San Joaquin Valley, for example, is massive. Yet there is only one Tesla Supercharge Station at Tejon Ranch in Lebec and one at Harris Ranch near Coalinga; most stations in California are along the coast. Just check out the map below that displays the Supercharge Station Network; it skips over the much of the country I would have expected:

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Additionally, this charging technology is not very adaptable to other Electric Vehicle (EV) models and there doesn’t seem to be a movement to alter this any time soon. The technical issues that prohibit this should be easily fixable. Connectors for electric vehicle charging should be the same across all electric vehicles just as they are for gas cars. It would be absurd if we had one gas station specifically for Toyotas, one for Hondas, one for BMWs, etc. So why is this any different for electric cars? Yes, Tesla batteries are far bigger than those in other electric vehicles, which is necessary for the 200 mile range. Gas stations have various options for customers, and so Supercharge Stations should, too.

It's so pretty! I'll take one in every color.
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There is a little light at the end of this tunnel, though. Not only will Tesla Motors be expanding the Supercharge Station Network and has agreed to consider letting other brands of electric cars use their network, but Tesla is also opening a manufacturing facility in the San Joaquin Valley! This new facility in Lathrop will initially require approximately 125 employees, which will surely bring necessary economic and workforce development into the Valley. Tesla Motors may just be the next Alternative Vehicle employer our Regional Industry Clusters of Opportunity (RICO) grant Action Team needs to involve in our EV Partnership!

In addition, supercharge stations will be open and able to charge vehicles other than Teslas. Good news all around!

As Tesla Motors moves to the Valley, the company plans to expand its production and sell 35,000 vehicles this year alone. Hopefully this growth promotes and increases manufacturing jobs in the US. And who knows? Maybe it will even lower that initial price tag a bit. There are rumors about it; so I know I’m not the only one selfishly hoping to see this new EV soon!

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