EDITOR’S NOTE: This report has been changed to reflect that the supercharger stations are not solar-powered, but that the company intends to convert some of them to solar power once the corridor is complete.
MACEDONIA: Tesla owners wanting to take their electric cars cross country will have reason to plan their route through northern Summit County.
Macedonia and Maumee, a suburb of Toledo, are the first two Ohio cities to get Tesla superchargers — a chain of stations that will allow owners of the pricey cars to travel across the country for free.
Both stations became operational last week, Tesla Motors announced. The Macedonia station is in the parking lot outside of Hobby Lobby, on Macedonia Commons Boulevard near East Aurora Road (state Route 82).
It has been Tesla’s goal to complete the cross-country network this winter.
“Superchargers are located near amenities like roadside diners, cafes and shopping centers so road trippers can stop for a quick meal and have their Model S charged by the time they’re done,” said Alexis Georgeson, spokeswoman for the Palo Alto, Calif., company.
The company says it has about 25,000 cars on the road. They sell for $70,000 and up, though there are plans for a less expensive mass-market model in the near future.
The superchargers — free to use — are being placed along major corridors that connect city centers, Georgeson said. Over the next few months, Tesla hopes to have enough stations to support a cross-country route from Los Angeles to New York. At some point, the company intends to go back and convert some of the stations to solar-powered facilities.
With stations located just off the Ohio Turnpike, motorists can slip into Macedonia or Maumee for a 30-minute charge and then be back on their way.
It’s what the car owners do in that half hour that has Macedonia Mayor Don Kuchta excited.
“Someone comes in and spends a half hour or so charging their car, what are they going to do? They’re going to kill time in our stores and restaurants,” he said. “How great is that?”
The car company announced plans for its cross-country network last year, promising a way for Tesla Model S drivers to “travel long distances, for free, indefinitely.”
Tesla already had a station network in the California/Nevada area on the West Coast, and in the Washington, D.C./Boston area on the East Coast.
But even with a 265-mile range for a Model S, long distances have been an issue. And drivers throughout the Midwest — Ohio currently has three Tesla dealerships — have had to stay relatively close to home or seek out chargers at cooperating dealerships and other sources.
After meeting its goal of a coast-to-coast corridor this winter, Tesla Motors is planning more charging stations to reach 80 percent of the U.S. population by the end of this year and 98 percent of the country by the end of 2015.