Tesla Revs Up Charging Network

May 31, 2013 7:45am

Morning Business Memo…

Tesla Motors is taking on one of the main criticisms of its luxury electric cars: you can’t take them on long distance cross-country trips. Tesla plans to expand its network of charging stations in much of the US and Canada, promising to boost long-distance travel. By the end of next month the electric car company says it will triple the size of its “supercharger” network from the current eight, with scores more planned for 2014.

The pace of construction is about twice as fast as the company had previously announced. Superchargers are about 10 times faster than most public charging stations, Tesla said on its website. The expanded network will enable owners of Tesla’s $70,000 Model S sedans to travel from Los Angeles to New York, probably by the coming winter. The Model S can travel about 200 miles, or for about three hours, when fully charged.

According to Automotive News, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the supercharging stations will be upgraded from 90 kilowatts to 120 kilowatts, which will reduce the amount of time it takes to fully charge an electric car to less than 30 minutes. The upgraded chargers will be available within the next few months.

Musk says the stations will always be free for owners of the large-battery version of the Model S. Owners of the brand’s smaller-battery version will have to pay for the option of using the stations.

The average US household has a long way to go to recover the wealth it lost during the recession, says a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The typical household has regained less than half its wealth. A separate Federal Reserve report in March calculated that Americans as a whole had regained 91 percent of their losses. Once those figures are adjusted for inflation and averaged across the population, the picture doesn’t look so bright: The average household has recovered only 45 percent of its wealth, the St. Louis Fed concluded.

President Obama plans to host college students at the White House today. He’ll make a pitch for the government’s subsidized student loan program. The President want Congress to act before a July 1 deadline. The current rate for subsidized loans is 3.4 percent. “If Congress does not act, student loan rates for students who have these student loans will double,” says Gerri Detweiler of Credit.com. “We’re talking about federal student loans, not private student loans, which unfortunately are usually much more expensive and have fewer consumer protections.”

Student debt continues to rise. About two-thirds of college grads in the Class of 2013 will graduate with some student loan debt. The average debt is about $28,000.

A shareholder vote at Clearwire is being delayed. Sprint offered to buy the half of the wireless network company that it doesn’t already own. Clearwire executives are planning to talk with Dish Network – which has made a rival bid for the company

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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