Drivers of Tesla electric cars will soon be able to drive the length of the country with only one 20-minute recharging break, according to the company’s billionaire founder Elon Musk.
Next month the first right-hand-drive models of Tesla’s £70,000 Model S Performance Plus car will arrive in Britain, with the company claiming it can travel 300 miles on a single charge.
The company is placing supercharging stations along an “electric highway” stretching from Dover and Bristol to the M25, and north along the length of the M1, The Sunday Times reported.
It says drivers will be able to add an extra 130 miles’ worth of charge to their vehicles in just 20 minutes, meaning it could be possible to drive the length of the country with just one break.
In contrast, most electric cars currently available in Britain have a range of up to 100 miles and must be plugged in overnight to recharge their batteries.
Conquering the “range anxiety” of drivers is seen as the key to boosting the vehicles’ popularity in Britain, and one of the main reasons why expensive government campaigns aimed at promoting the market have fallen flat.
Similar charging networks in America, leading from Canada to the Mexican border and from the Pacific to Atlantic coasts, have helped make the Model S the third highest-selling luxury car in California.
One of the first charging stations to be installed in Britain will be at South Mimms services in Hertfordshire, at the junction of the M25 and A1, with construction work close to completion.
Drivers of the most expensive Tesla models will reportedly be able to recharge for free, while others will pay a one-off fee for unrestricted access to the charging network.
Mr Musk, the co-founder of PayPal, was appointed as an “electric car tsar” by the government last year, with ministers hoping he would be able to ignite demand after years of disappointing sales.
Only 1,547 electric cars were registered in Britain between January and April this year despite the government spending millions on charging points, publicity campaigns and financial incentives for drivers.
Edmund King, president of the AA, said Tesla could prove a “game changer”, adding that if the Model S meets the company’s claims on charging time and range, it would satisfy 98 per cent of drivers.
By Nick Collins