Friday, December 7, 2012

Tesla Unveils Solar Powered Charging Stations

Tesla Motors unveiled the first of its six Supercharger stations in six California locations (Folsom, Gilroy, Coalinga, Lebec, Barstow and Hawthorne). The Supercharger stations are powered by a solar carport system made by SolarCity, and will allow the Model S sedan to receive a 90 kilowatt (KW) charge in about 30 minutes, which will keep the vehicle going for 150 miles. The solar carport system is designed to generate more solar power over a year than the average Tesla vehicle requires. This will result, according to a press release by the car company, in a “slight net positive transfer” of solar power being generated back to the power grid. Tesla plans to install 100 Superchargers in “high traffic corridors” throughout the U.S. by 2015. It will start installing them in Europe and Asia in 2013.

The Supercharger, at 90 KW, delivers 4.5 times more electricity to the battery of the Model S than Twin Chargers. Elon Musk, Tesla co-founder and CEO, calls the Supercharger network a “game changer for electric vehicles.” He cites several reasons why the Supercharger network is a game changer, including the longer traveling distance they provide Model S vehicles. “Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be,” said Musk.

There is a downside to the Superchargers: they are only compatible with Model S sedans. Tesla has produced 255 Model S vehicles, but only delivered 132, according to a September 25 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. Sources told that each solar carport system “costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000, with the total cost to cover the planned 100 stations at between $20 million and $30 million.”

That is a lot of money for a car company that clearly has a cash flow problem. In the September 25 filings, Tesla reported to the SEC that it is offering 4.3 million shares of its stock for sale. Tesla plans to have $228 million in cash available from the sale of its stock. It will need the money as it was informed by the Department of Energy (DOE), according to the filing, that it has until October 31 to submit plans for “early repayment” on its $465 million loan. In the filing, Tesla reported that it is “full drawn down” on the DOE loan.

The SEC filing reveals a production problem with the Model S sedans. Namely, Tesla has not yet been able to produce the anticipated number of the vehicles. It blames the slow down in production on suppliers who have “experienced delays in meeting our demand and we continue to focus on supplier capabilities and constraints.” The company’s objective is to produce 400 Model S vehicles a week before the end of this year which would “enable us to produce more than 20,000 Model S vehicles in 2013.”

Tesla anticipates decreased revenue for this year. It reported in the SEC filing that it anticipates revenue to be $400 to $440 million, a decrease from previous estimates of $560 million to $600 million. The company attributes this to the decrease in Model S production.


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