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Tesla tours West Coast to celebrate Supercharger network

Two Tesla Model Ses are driving from San Diego to Vancouver to celebrate the completion of the network of DC fast chargers up the West Coast.

Tesla Model S
Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Tesla owners, rabid as Apple fans, showed up in droves at an event in San Francisco to celebrate the completion of the company's West Coast Supercharger network. The stars of the event were two Model Ses in the midst of a road trip from San Diego to Vancouver.

The new Supercharger network lets Model S owners drive along the network completely free of charge.

The two cars making the journey had started out in San Diego the previous morning, making the 550-mile trip along Highway 101. Although the route planning called for four charging stops along the way, Tesla Product Marketer Ted Merendino, one of the drivers, told CNET that the cars had enough range to skip a charging stop in Gilroy.

Tesla Model S
The Model S hoods show a map of the road trip. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Admitting to some heavy-footed driving, Merendino said that the lowest range the car he was driving showed before a charging stop was 20 miles. For the first day of the trip, he said the cars kept up with the flow of traffic, driving along a freeway with long 65 and 70 mph stretches.

After spending the night in San Francisco, the Model S drivers will head to Sacramento to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Supercharger station, then continue up Interstate 5. The road trip plan calls for eight more charging stops between San Francisco and Vancouver.

Tesla's Web site notes that the Supercharger stations can charge the battery of a properly equipped Model S to 80 percent, equivalent to about 200 miles range, in 30 minutes. The company makes the Superchargers available to Model S owners free of charge. As the Superchargers use a proprietary system, they will not work with other electric cars.

Tesla sponsored the road trip to show that its electric cars can be driven over long distances.

Tesla Model S
Model S owners brought their own cars out to celebrate the event in San Francisco. Wayne Cunningham/CNET