Tesla CEO Elon Musk launched a new network of solar-powered charging stations at an event held last night in Los Angeles. Called Supercharger, the first six stations are spread out throughout California.
The Supercharger is billed as the fastest charging station on the planet. It uses a massive solar panel provided by SolarCity to capture energy and quickly recharge the batteries of a Model S sedan. Musk claims that 90 kilowatts of energy can be channeled into the lithium-ion battery in about half an hour, providing the sedan with roughly three hours' worth of driving time if the driver keeps a steady 60 mph. The EV manufacturer hopes to pump up to 120 kilowatts over the next couple of years.
Since the bulk of the energy dispensed by the Supercharger comes from the sun, Model S owners will be able to top up their batteries free of charge.
"By making electric long distance travel free, an impossibility for gasoline-burning cars, Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be,” said Musk.
Since the supply of solar power is expected to exceed demand on an average day, the Supercharger was designed to transfer all excess energy to the power grid of the city that it is located in.
Tesla hopes to have about 100 Supercharger stations scattered across the United States by 2015. The network will be expanded to Europe and Asia, where the first stations are scheduled to be inaugurated in approximately a year.