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Tesla adds supercharging stations at three Iowa Hy-Vee stores

Iowa now has almost 100 electric vehicle stations

A Tesla Model S is plugged in to a newly installed charging station a newly installed Tesla supercharger station at a HyVee in West Des Moines on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
A Tesla Model S is plugged in to a newly installed charging station a newly installed Tesla supercharger station at a HyVee in West Des Moines on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Tesla Motors electric car owners in the Midwest have been faced with a challenge — a lack of quick and reliable charging options.

Now a joint effort by Tesla Motors and West Des Moines-based grocery chain Hy-Vee has added Tesla Superchargers — the automaker’s fastest charging station — at sites along Iowa’s heavily-traveled Interstate 80.

“The time it takes for an average shopper to get through a grocery store to get groceries is about the same time it takes to get a full charge on a decent fast charger like this,” said John Brehm, Hy-Vee director of site planning, at a media event Tuesday at the West Lakes Hy-Vee in West Des Moines to showcase the superchargers. “So it’s a marriage made in heaven.”

The superchargers can put about 170 miles of charge into a Tesla car in about 20 minutes.

Since July, eight Tesla supercharger stations have been installed at Hy-Vee stores in Coralville, West Lakes and Davenport as well as in Peru, Ill., and Oakdale, Minn. Construction on stations will begin at Hy-Vee’s Lincoln, Neb., store next year.

Brehm said Hy-Vee and Tesla are in discussions to add supercharger stations at six other Hy-Vee locations in the Midwest. In all, Tesla has roughly 400 supercharging stations in the country.

The charging stations have been free. But after Jan. 1, newly ordered vehicles will have a limited annual free charging allowance, Tesla announced earlier this month.

“It’s robust enough and powerful enough that people can confidently and conveniently travel hundreds and thousands of miles without any sort of compromise in terms of staying overnight or staying over the course of several hours,” said Will Nicholas, Tesla communications manager.

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Nicholas said the communities chosen provide the perfect locations to expand Tesla’s infrastructure of quick-charge stations.

“We’re happy to be working with Hy-Vee to connect the Midwest, from Chicago to Denver,” he said.

Stephanie Weisenbach, with the Iowa Clean Cities Coalition, said not only do the chargers make Iowa more attractive to Tesla drivers, but having more stations makes the electric car more appealing to potential customers.

Iowa’s infrastructure has grown from about 75 electric vehicle charging stations six months ago to nearly 100 now, Weisenbach said.

“When people are considering an electric vehicle one of their first questions is, ‘Where can I charge it?,’ and if they feel there is not enough infrastructure out there, they don’t want to purchase the vehicle,” Weisenbach said.

David Darrow of Johnston is one of those customers. Darrow has owned his electric car for about a year and a half.

While most of his charging takes hours at home, Darrow’s Tesla Model S sedan — if completely drained — can get a full charge in around an hour at a supercharger station.

“I’m looking forward to finally using it on long road trips,” Darrow said.

Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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