Tesla Model S: Superchargers, China, lease, and Epic Electric American Road Trip

DDR Corp. announced the installation of a 3rd Tesla Supercharger station located at Hamilton Marketplace in Hamilton, NJ. This is the 3rd state where the Supercharger station has been activated at a DDR shopping centre, after Virginia and Ohio. Growth could expand to more locations across the country by year-end.

Tesla Model S“We are very proud of our relationship with Tesla and look forward to expanding our involvement across the country as Tesla seeks to broaden its charging network,” commented Joe Tichar, senior vice president of corporate operations for DDR. “DDR shopping centers thrive on offering value and convenience to the consumer. Our retail partners provide the outstanding value through their merchandise offerings while Tesla validates the convenience of our prime locations by positioning charging stations that are carefully selected to meet their owners’ needs.”

Tesla Superchargers placed strategically enable Model S owners to recharge their vehicles free of charge between cities along major highways in North America. DDR has also installed 4 Volta charging stations in Arizona to help charge electric vehicles from various manufacturers.

The recent delivery ceremony of Tesla’s 1st batch of Chinese orders in Beijing, 2 PV charging systems stood out. Hanergy thin-film flexible PV system was Tesla’s first choice for the 1st PV Supercharger station in China. Founder of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk said, “In the future, Tesla will work with partners to build supercharger network. The first charging station in Beijing was built in cooperation with Hanergy Solar Group. Tesla will continue to invest in the construction of superchargers in China, aiming to quickly expand the network.”

Hanergy Solar Group will deliver 2 solar carports, to Beijing and Jiading, Shanghai. The mobile Beijing carport is designed to be assembled and transported, and adopts Hanergy’s GSE flexible thin-film solar modules. Shanghai’s carport will be a fixed structure. It adopts Hanergy’s MiaSole CIGS high-efficiency modules. Phase one of both carports is complete.

Elon Musk has opined that China is a key market and Tesla would make big investments here. This includes investments in charging, building 7 super charging networks, and provision for uninterrupted solar power supply 24 hours per day. 1st batch of charging stations will be built in cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The PV charging system converts sunlight into electricity using its designated rooftop. The system charges EV’s through its energy storage system using CIGS thin-film PV tech.

Ms. Zhang Qingliang, Vice President of Hanergy Global Solar Power and Application Group said, “We are pleased to be the one to provide Tesla the first batch of solar powered Supercharging stations in China. As a technology-driven company, Hanergy has been actively exploring ways to utilize its thin-film photovoltaic technology to provide solutions through technological innovation and cross industrial integration. We have been working with multiple domestic and foreign automobile manufacturers to integrate solar, and is also researching on energy storage, photovoltaic car roof and other solar-automobile applications.”

Elon Musk emphasised that Tesla charging stations in China can work 24 hours per day by using solar power and energy storage systems to reduce impact of electric coal on environment.

This week, on Earth Day, Experian Automotive released a study comparing electric and hybrid vehicles. The analysis reveals that in 2013, more than 45% of hybrid car buyers were 56 years old or older, while about 26% electric car buyers were of the same age. “At first glance, one would imagine that consumers purchasing either a hybrid or electric vehicle would be nearly identical; both are environmentally conscious, are of similar ages and have higher income levels,” said Melinda Zabritski, senior director for Experian Automotive. “While for the most part those statements ring true, our research shows that there are slight differences between the two. One possible reason for the disparity could be the growing popularity of the higher-end luxury electric models available.” as part of the study, Tesla Model S ranks 2nd in a list of top 5 electric models sold last year.

Fluctuations in hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) sales point out that hybrid sales are down 15.9% YOY, while electric vehicle sales are up 21.8% YOY. “EVs are in the very early stages of becoming mainstream, and the nearly 22 percent increase from last year, compared to an essentially flat market, indicates growing consumer acceptance,” said Jesse Toprak, chief analyst for Cars.com, an automotive digital marketing company. “Price points for many pure EVs are getting closer to where it makes sense financially for consumers. The biggest limitations for growth in the EV segment are battery costs and range, and the lack of proper infrastructure. Many consumers living in metropolitan areas would like to get an EV, but aren’t able to for reasons like not being able to charge it in their apartment complex garage or lack of nearby charging stations. Ultimately, mass adoption will require sufficient infrastructure to be in place, and we aren’t quite there yet.”

Top electric vehicle sales YTD are Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius PHV, and the Ford Fusion Energi. Mitsubishi I-Miev sales decline is noticeable, so the new variant launch this year is awaited. Tesla Model S and Chevrolet Volt also registered lower sales. Tesla Model S sales YTD 2014 stand at 3,800 as compared to YTD 2013 4,900 equating to 22.4% sales decline in US.

“It appears the increased fuel efficiency of regular gas engine vehicles, as well the rising popularity of pure EVs has made a dent in demand for hybrids,” said Toprak. “Some early adopters are now opting for EVs because they feel hybrids aren’t as eco-friendly as the pure EV alternatives available. Regardless, hybrids are here to stay and are still the most practical option for the majority of environmentally conscious consumers.”

Lincoln MKZ, Hyundai Sonata, Lexus CT200h, and Kia Optima Hybrid are leading the hybrid. Sales drop in hybris vehicles have been faced by Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Ford C-Max Hybrid, Toyota Prius V, Toyota Camry Hybrid, and Toyota Prius Liftback.

Tesla has also announced an expansion of its strategic relationship with Sixt Leasing. Model S customers in Switzerland and Germany will benefit from lease offers. So much so, that cost of driving a Model S of about CHF 660 per month inclusive of annual service from Tesla. Cost advantages include free use of Tesla’s Supercharger network and exemption from Switzerland’s annual road tax. With 10% down on a 36 month lease, Sixt currently offers payments of approximately CHF 810 – 950* per month, depending on the mileage selected by the customer. Tesla Model S can save customers up to CHF 300 per month in fuel and tax savings.

“We’re pleased to offer attractive financing deals to our Swiss customers,” said Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. “After a successful launch in Germany, we’re looking forward to extending our partnership with Sixt Leasing to Switzerland.”

The week also marked a record-setting Epic Electric American Road Trip that spanned 24 days to cover a 12,183-mile battery-powered journey sponsored by electric vehicle (EV) software and information services company Recargo Inc. The trip hopes for a Guinness World Record verification for longest vehicle journey using 100% electric power. Norman Hajjar, Managing Director of Recargo’s driver research division, PlugInsights, crossed the finish line in a stock Tesla Model S sedan. He travelled across a 27-state route taking advantage of Tesla’s newly built string of cross-country “Supercharger” stations.

“We wanted to illustrate what’s possible with the nation’s charging infrastructure, and draw attention to needs for further improvement,” said Norman Hajjar. “The plausibility of a mass switch to EV usage in America simply can’t be separated from the need for a robust fast-charging network. I’ve travelled over 12,000 miles in under 3.5 weeks. With the proper infrastructure, there’s nothing an EV can’t do.”

Largest owner and operator of electric vehicle (EV) charging services, CarCharging has announced that drivers along the Pennsylvania Turnpike can now recharge electric cars at Bowmansville and King of Prussia the service plazas. “We are delighted to partner with the PTC and DEP to offer EV charging services to travelers along the PA turnpike,” said Michael D. Farkas, Chief Executive Officer of CarCharging. “CarCharging has served as a pioneer in providing public EV charging services and we are proud to support EV drivers with new and accessible locations as they travel throughout Pennsylvania.”

“Gov. Corbett has consistently advocated for a true, ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy; certainly, Pennsylvania has the resources and expertise to lead an American energy revolution,” says DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abbruzo. “This commitment to EV charging stations at Turnpike service plazas is further proof that good business practices and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive.”

“Within the next two weeks, charging services will expand to two additional plazas: Oakmont in Allegheny County and New Stanton in Westmoreland County,” says Turnpike COO Craig Shuey. “Eventually, the plan is to offer EV charging at all 17 service plazas that dot the Pennsylvania Turnpike system.”

CarCharging’s Level II charging stations are compatible with EVs sold in the United States including the Tesla Model S, Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Mitsubishi i-Miev, Toyota Prius Plug-In, Honda Fit EV, and Toyota Rav4 EV,and others scheduled to launch over time.