LOS ANGELES — Tesla Motors' Elon Musk said the electric-car maker has expanded its U.S. network of rapid chargers to let owners of battery-powered Model S sedans drive their cars from coast to coast for the first time.
Musk, Tesla's chief executive officer and co-founder, said last year the company would set up “Superchargers” in most major U.S. and Canadian cities to permit long-distance trips solely on electricity provided at no charge. The carmaker has more than 70 stations in North America, according to Tesla's website.
“Tesla Supercharger network now energized from New York to LA, both coast + Texas!” Musk said in a Twitter post Sunday. “Approx 80% of US population covered.”
Tesla, seeking to be the world's leading maker of all- electric autos, needs the broader network of charging stations to address the limited driving range and long charge times of battery cars. Without the stations, Tesla drivers are limited by the estimated 265-mile range of a Model S battery, which can take as long as 9 hours to repower.
Musk has said the chargers, which the company says are the fastest available, are installed near major highway interchanges on properties close to restaurants, cafes or shopping to allow drivers to take breaks while their vehicle are repowered.
The Superchargers, currently compatible only with the Model S, provide 170 miles of range in a 30-minute charge, according to the company. The cheapest version of the Fremont, Calif.- built car enabled to work with the Superchargers costs $73,070, according to Tesla's website.
Two teams of Tesla drivers will try to set U.S. cross- country electric vehicle speed records using the chargers, departing Friday from Los Angeles and arriving in New York by Sunday, said Musk, 42. He also plans a “LA-NY family road trip over Spring Break,” using the system, he said on Twitter.
The company named for inventor Nikola Tesla more than quadrupled in value in 2013. Tesla fell 3.8 percent to $174.60 at the close Friday in New York.