Construction is underway on Tucson’s first Tesla Supercharger station, which will allow owners to quickly power up their all-electric vehicles.
The facility is at the Shell Station near Interstate 10 on South Rita Road on the southeast side, according to city building records.
A Tesla spokesperson, who declined to give location information until the facility is operational, said the station is scheduled to be completed in 2017. Andy MacLeod, president of the Tesla Club of Southern Arizona, provided photos that show a fair amount of progress has already been made.
The station is one of three planned nearby along the I-10 corridor that will make long-distance traveling easier for regional vehicle owners, according to MacLeod. The other two, one in Willcox and another in Deming, New Mexico, are also scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, according to Tesla’s website.
“Up until now you could not travel on the south end of the country to get from California to Texas or Florida,” MacLeod said.
There are already a number of so-called destination Tesla chargers, which charge more slowly, at Tucson-area restaurants and resorts. For now, the nearest Supercharger is in Casa Grande, and there are also number in the Phoenix area. Superchargers are not yet compatible with other electric vehicles, though there have been talks to change that, according to an article on the website Electrek.
MacLeod said he usually needs 15 to 20 minutes of charging to continue, though Tesla says that 30 minutes are normally required to get an additional 170 miles of range. Using a Supercharger is free to all owners of Model S or Model X Teslas, after the company reversed course on ending free charging earlier this year, according to a May article in Forbes. New purchasers who get referral codes from current owners will also enjoy free charging.
Model S and Model X Teslas start around $69,000 and $80,000 respectively, according to Car and Driver.
Nancy Hand, another local club member, said the new chargers will allow her to travel east, without lengthy jogs north to ensure there are places to charge. As soon as the new facilities are open, a visit to Big Bend National Park is at the top of her list.
“That would have been a problem,” she said. “We have actually studied the route, and It really would have been challenging.”
MacLeod estimated that there are several hundred local Tesla owners, several dozen of whom are active members of the club. While they will no doubt regularly take advantage of the station, Hand said the vast majority of owners do their charging at home or at work, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get used.
Instead of local users, many will likely be people traveling through town, and that could spell economic benefits. Hand says she often gets a bite to eat while she’s charging and expects Tucson visitors will as well.
“It will mean more Tesla owners coming to and through Tucson,” she said of the station.
It will also mean the calculus for would-be owners in places like Sierra Vista and Nogales improves because they will no longer have to make it all the way to Casa Grande, according to MacLeod.
“This opens up more of Southeastern Arizona,” he said.
DOWN THE ROAD
Starting Monday, the Pima County Transportation Department will be micro-sealing East Tanque Verde Road from the North Tanque Verde Loop Road to North Wentworth Road. Preliminary work will take place through Thursday, and the work schedule will be between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. The micro-sealing will start in mid-October. Lane restrictions and reduced speeds will be in place, and flaggers and sheriff’s deputies will be on site.