Chattanooga Airport is on electric carmaker Tesla's radar for supercharger stations

Chattanooga Airport is on electric carmaker Tesla's radar for supercharger stations

May 21st, 2014 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

California-made electric car Tesla

Photo by Staff photo by Mark Kennedy

Terry Hart, president and CEO of Chattanooga Airport

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

A vehicle drives past the main entrance to the Chattanooga Airport.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Chattanooga is landing a spot on the Tesla national supercharger highway.

By mid-August, the company that sells premium electric cars plans to install at Chattanooga Airport six of its supercharger stations where owners can juice up their vehicles' batteries.

Airport officials have agreed to lease six spaces in the intermediate parking lot where the California-based carmaker will put in the supercharger stations.

"Very cool," said Jonathan Overly, who heads the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition in Knoxville.

Overly said Tesla is building out a network of supercharger stations from the West to East coasts for its vehicles. He said new plans must cover parts of the Southeast, and Chattanooga is on the corridor.

"Clearly, it's trying to build this superhighway," Overly said.

Terry Hart, the airport's president, said Tesla is responsible for installation and maintenance of the recharging stations.

Hart said Tesla will pay the airport $588 per month for the first five years and $648 per month for years six through 10. Tesla has an option for five more years at $708 per month, Hart said.

He said Tesla owners won't be charged a parking fee for two hours or less at the electric vehicle station.

Tesla said its superchargers provide half a charge in as little as 20 minutes for free.

According to InsideEVs, Tesla has built such a supercharger network from Seattle to San Diego. In addition, it has a supercharger highway from Boston to Miami, though some stations are slated to be installed.

InsideEVs said Tesla has built $2,000 into the price of each Model S to support the network.

With the more than 20,000 Model S vehicles already sold in the U.S., Tesla currently has $40 million allocated to rapidly expand the network, InsideEvs said. For $2,000, each Model S owner has lifelong unlimited access to the growing network.

Tesla said its superchargers work by delivering DC power directly to the battery using special cables that bypass on-board charging equipment.

Select stations utilize canopies covered with solar panels to offset energy use and provide shade. Over the next few years, the company plans to cover more stations in sunny locales with solar canopies.

Tesla's base 2014 Model S starts at $69,900. The company expects to deliver about 7,500 Model S vehicles in the second quarter of 2014 and some 35,000 for the year, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.