Tesla superchargers pop up locally; state building electric car infrastructure


Two Tesla vehicles are parked at a supercharging station in downtown Llano, one of two locations in the Highland Lakes where a Tesla vehicle can be charged in as little as 15 minutes. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Tesla has installed two supercharging stations in the Highland Lakes area, one in Llano and the other in Johnson City. These supercharging stations are part of a wave of electric vehicle infrastructure washing over Texas.

The supercharging stations, which only accommodate Tesla-made vehicles, differ from normal charging stations in that a driver can charge their battery in as little as 15 minutes. Typically, a Tesla vehicle would have to charge for several hours on a “destination charger” at a hotel or home.

“I think it’s been a good addition to the city overall,” said Laura Almond, the owner of Possibilities, a resale and design shop in Llano. A Tesla supercharging station with eight spots is located in the Possibilities’ parking lot on the historic town square.

In a contract between Almond and Tesla, no money was exchanged. Tesla is essentially borrowing the space from her.

According to Almond, Tesla reached out to the city of Llano to propose a supercharging station. The initial location was the Lowe’s grocery store parking lot. The Johnson City supercharger is located at its Lowe’s store.

Tony Guidroz, the director of Community Development for Llano, pitched the idea of ​​putting the supercharging station in downtown Llano, and Tesla agreed. Tesla filed for a permit with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation in October 2021. The supercharging station was completed in January 2022.

The stations are good for business, too. Tesla vehicles have onboard computers that guide the driver on routes with supercharging stations. The computer not only shows supercharging sites, it lists surrounding amenities such as coffee, shopping, and dining.

Almond said one Tesla driver spent $500 at Possibilities while they waited for their vehicle to charge. She typically sees two to four cars charging at a time.

TEXAS BUILDING ELECTRIC VEHICLE INFRASTRUCTURE

Tesla, which currently has 77 superchargers in Texas with more on the way, isn’t the only entity pushing electric vehicle infrastructure in the state.

Earlier in June, the Texas Department of Transportation put forth the Texas Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan, which aims to increase electric vehicle-charging infrastructure along interstates and highways and in rural communities over the next five years.

Currently, 129,010 electric vehicles are registered in Texas, accounting for just 1 percent of the registered vehicles in the state. This number might not seem impressive, but it is triple the count of electric vehicles registered in 2020.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas estimates the state will have 1 million registered electric vehicles by 2028.

TxDOT plans to install rapid charging stations along interstates and highways designated as Electric Alternative Fuel Corridors. The stations will be every 50 miles, within one mile of interstate exits and highway intersections, and compatible with all electric vehicles.

The Federal Highway Administration is providing Texas with $407.8 million from 2022-26 for the project, so no state funds will be used.

For now, Tesla is building its supercharging network separately from TxDOT, but overall, both entities are working to enable more reliable and efficient travel for electric vehicles across Texas.

On April 7, Tesla officially opened its new world headquarters in Austin, which is less than 100 miles from Llano and 60 miles from Johnson City.

dakota@thepicayune.com

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