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Tesla Team Completes Cross-Country Rally in "Dead of Winter"

The trek was designed to highlight the cross-country network of Superchargers.

Shutterstock / Robert Gubbins

A Tesla Motors team arrived in New York City in a pair of Model S sedans this morning, a little more than three days after leaving Los Angeles, completing a rally designed to highlight the cross-country network of turbo charging stations for the high-end electric cars.

Tesla flipped on the final “Supercharger” needed to complete the route last month. The network spans more than 3,400 miles, according to the company. Superchargers allow Model S owners to juice up for free, offering half a charge in as little as 20 minutes.

Both the build out of the network and promotional rally are clearly aimed at assuaging the key concern surrounding electric cars: Limited range.

On a full charge, the Model S with the biggest battery can go around 300 miles at 55 miles per hour, according to Tesla. That easily covers the vast majority of weekday driving, but can stretch the limits of longer road trips.

Consumer range anxieties were elevated early last year, when a New York Times reviewer wrote that the Model S ran out of power between charging stations during a test drive, temporarily stranding him in Branford, Conn. The piece said that the plunging Northeast temperatures were a factor in the lower than expected battery life.

Musk blasted the piece, disputed key facts in the story and claimed the review cost the company $100 million in market cap. In particular, he argued that the car performs fine in cold weather — a pointed he stressed again in mentioning the “heavy snow” in his tweet today.

An ongoing blog of the trek described a trip beset with winter storms, heavy snow, icy roads, detours and delays.

But there’s no question that charging stations are still limited at this point, particularly compared to traditional gas stations, despite Tesla’s steady build out. At last official count, there were 73 stations in the United States and 14 in Europe. So for now, a driver can only get across the country in a Model S by navigating a specific route.

Musk himself is reportedly set to drive it later this year, along with his five sons — an undertaking he has already compared to the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” movies.


Tesla updated its Cross Country Rally blog with a few additional details on the completion of the journey:

Not only did the Cross Country Rally team manage the trip from Los Angeles to New York City in just 76 and a half hours, it also recorded the lowest charge time for an electric vehicle traveling across the country — a feat that is now being assessed for recognition as a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS achievement.

… The cars were driven over the finish line by Tesla staffers Sara Eslinger and Jalpan Patel. Tesla CTO J.B. Straubel was on board for the final leg from Newark, Delaware, to New York City, where the team was greeted by CEO Elon Musk after crossing the finish line.

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