Tesla Motors stock dropped sharply Thursday following reports that a Model S sedan caught fire in Seattle.
But the mood was festive yesterday morning as local officials, Tesla car owners and automobile enthusiasts turned out for a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening of one of Tesla Motors’ first two supercharging stations in Colorado at the Outlets at Silverthorne.
Tesla’s superchargers have 120 kilowatts of power and can recharge an 85-kilowatt-hour battery in about 45 minutes. Supercharging stations provide free charging for Tesla car owners, and the Silverthorne location is one piece of the company’s broader goal of making cross-country electric car travel possible.
“Driving up here from Denver I couldn’t help but think this truly is the perfect place to unveil our first supercharging stations in Colorado,” said Daniel Witt, state policy director for Tesla Motors. “Silverthorne epitomizes Tesla’s goal of connecting cities to destinations.
“Thanks to this station, Tesla drivers can travel from Denver to Silverthorne and Silverthorne to Vail and Steamboat Springs, as well as the western reaches of the state by way of our other supercharger in Glenwood Springs.”
Among the local officials who joined in Wednesday’s celebration were Silverthorne Mayor Dave Koop and Outlets at Silverthorne general manager Jayne Esser.
Esser reiterated comments she made earlier when Tesla announced the outlets as a potential site for one of its first supercharging stations in Colorado, saying the Palo Alto-based company shares in the outlets’ dedication to customer service.
“Ever since Tesla announced to their owners that there would be a supercharger station at the Outlets at Silverthorne, we’ve been inundated with calls and visits from customers who are excited about this,” Esser said. “Customers from Colorado and many other states are calling to tell us they are going to make Silverthorne a planned stop in their travels. Certainly this new offering is going to increase traffic to the Outlets at Silverthorne.”
Koop echoed similar sentiments during the ceremony. Drawing from his previous experience as a truck driver, Koop said many of his refueling stops involved shopping for t-shirts or bumper stickers at cross-country travel centers.
“We have a whole lot more to offer here,” Koop said. “Plus, the scenery isn’t bad either.”
Koop does not currently own a Model S, Tesla Motors’ premium electric sedan, but said he is a self-proclaimed Tesla geek nonetheless. He’s been following the company closely and said he is excited about Silverthorne’s small connection to a company he believes is on the cusp of revolutionizing the way Americans travel.
“This infrastructure is exactly what Tesla needs,” Koop said. “Range is longer and the batteries are getting lighter, but you still need to stop. These superchargers are going to provide that link to the rest of the country and it’s the reasonable charge time that really is going to sell the public on electric cars.”
Tesla Motors is currently in the process of developing three cross-country routes in North America. It’s designed in an “H” pattern with supercharging stations slated for construction to link Vancouver to Los Angeles, Boston to Miami and L.A. to New York. The first phase of that infrastructure plan linking the Pacific and Atlantic coasts is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.
Butch Weaver, a Pagosa Springs man who works in electrical engineering and computer science, was one of at least a dozen Tesla owners who attended Thursday’s grand opening in Silverthorne. Weaver owns two electric cars designed by Tesla, including the no longer produced Roadster and a “Signature Series” Model S.
Weaver has owned his Model S for a little more than a year. It carries serial No. 37. Tesla expects to deliver about 22,000 Model S sedans to owners before the end of the year.
Weaver spends the majority of his time in his Model S traveling between Pagosa Springs and a second home in Boulder, which is just beyond the sedan’s range.
Until Thursday, Weaver said he was forced to spend three hours in Salida, either at a friend’s house or at a recreational vehicle park, to recharge and complete his commute.
“It was a question of deciding where and how I was going to charge,” Weaver said. “The superchargers are incredible. Now I can drive to Silverthorne, charge up for 30 minutes and get home to Pagosa Springs.”
And like Koop, Weaver is excited for the completion of Tesla’s cross-country infrastructure of Supercharging stations. He and his son already have a road trip planned for January or February to Los Angeles.
“These superchargers are going to provide that link to the rest of the country and it’s the reasonable charge time that really is going to sell the public on electric cars.”
— Silverthorne Mayor Dave Koop