Elon Musk's e-car company Tesla has unveiled its built-in-secret Supercharger network, which will supply free juice to Model S sedans but no other plug-in cars.
The Superchargers are loaded up with solar energy and will give their charge to Model S cars for free, but other electric vehicles won't be able to use the stations. Tesla claims that the exclusivity is down to the fact that the Model S has a proprietary plug and a 20kW converter, according to reports from the launch event.
Tesla built the Supercharger network, which can take a Model S from flat to full in an hour, in secret at six locations in California. Those solar carports, which look a little like regular filling stations, will be switched on next month and the car company is planning more in "high traffic corridors" across the US and in Europe and Asia in the second half of next year.
But even for Model S owners, the network comes with a catch. The rapid charging from the carport will take its toll on the lithium-ion batteries in the vehicles, so the Supercharger is only for occasional use.
But Tesla reckons it's worth it, since the carports are expected to pay for themselves. The solar power gathering ports, developed with SolarCity where Musk is chairman, will bag more juice than the cars need, so the firm will have extra power to sell back to the grid.
"By making electric long distance travel at no cost - an impossibility for gasoline cars - Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be,” Musk said in a canned statement. “We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight.” ®