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SuperCharge It: Hamburg has you covered

BY TARA LEISURE

Hamburg_June15_8

If you’re a local resident or frequent visitor to the Hamburg area, you might have noticed a few unfamiliar additions to the shopping pavilion.

The first and only Tesla Supercharger station in Kentucky is located right here in Hamburg. The eight chargers can be seen along the Alysheba side of Meijer, just outside of the Home and Garden section. At nearly five feet tall, the red and white pillars have a futuristic presence.

What’s a supercharger? It’s a charging station for the Model S, a battery-operated car by Tesla Motors. Tesla Motors is a California-based company founded in 2003 that specializes in vehicles that run completely on electricity. The superchargers act as a sort of “gas station” for the cars, where drivers can leave their cars unattended with the power cord attached to the car’s charge port, located in the same spot a gas pump would go. The superchargers are designed to fully charge cars in thirty minutes, a process that can take up to six hours at home (where most consumers charge them overnight).

The big difference between a supercharging station and a gas station is what shocks most. It is 100 percent free. It’s free for every charge, every time, everywhere. So that means when you drive a Tesla Model S you have free, unlimited charging rights at the Hamburg Meijer and it only takes the length of an average grocery store visit to fill up.

Having a supercharger station here puts Hamburg on the map (literally) for convenient electric car travel,  right off of I-75 and so close to I-64. The vast array of restaurants and our pedestrian-friendly shopping pavilion provide the ideal distractions for north and southbound travelers who need to charge up. This can only positively impact the local economy, and will encourage people to stop through Lexington on their next journey.

There are just a handful of Tesla owners in Lexington, the most notable being John Glenney. Glenney is a retired University of Kentucky professor who spent January of 2014 driving his Tesla across the nation, the first person in the United States to do so. He owns three of the cars, which makes him the unofficial Tesla aficionado of Lexington.

There is what some would consider a catch for those thinking of becoming Tesla owners. The Model S costs just over $69,000, roughly double the amount of an average starter car. That’s a hefty price to pay for the extra front storage space (no engine!) However, Tesla fans insist that their money’s worth is earned back over time through free charge-ups. A Tesla can drive up to 170 miles with the 30-minute charge from a super charger.

Widespread conversion to electricity-powered cars still seems like something far in the future, but the progression may start sooner than we think. Tesla Motors is working to construct a new, more affordable model set to be on the market in 2017. The Model III is estimated at $35,000, which is a much more powerful economic incentive.

Their current steep price doesn’t hinder Tesla’s nationwide popularity, though. In April 2014 there were only 100 supercharger stations in North America, and now there are close to 430, with dozens under construction. With more stations coming to the Louisville and northern Tennessee areas very soon, the appeal of Tesla cars for Kentucky residents will only get stronger.

But as for now, the Hamburg supercharging station is primarily a convenience for travelers just passing through. This step toward clean, efficient driving has put Lexington on the road to the future.

 

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This article also appears on page 8 of the June print edition of the Hamburg Journal.

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