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Work begins on Tesla charging station in Charleston

F. BRIAN FERGUSON | Gazette-Mail
Construction for a Tesla Supercharger station has begun at the Courtyard by Marriott parking lot in Charleston. It will be the second Supercharger station in West Virginia when finished, the first being in Triadelphia.
Supercharger stations are able to replenish up to 170 miles of range in 30 minutes, according to Tesla’s website.

Construction has begun for a Tesla Supercharger station in Charleston, the second in West Virginia.

The station, exclusively for the Palo Alto-based company’s Model S and Model X cars, will be located in the parking lot of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 100 Kanawha Blvd. E.

Charlie Wendell of Mountain Shore Properties, which owns the property, said the station will occupy eight parking spaces bordering Virginia St. E. The station being classified as a “Supercharger” means it can replenish up to 170 miles of range for Tesla vehicles in 30 minutes.

Wendell said construction is likely to finish in May.

Tesla owners in the Charleston area currently have limited options for charging stations.

There are more than 800 Tesla Superchargers in the United States, but only one currently available in West Virginia. It’s located at the Hampton Inn in Triadelphia, off Interstate 70 in the Northern Panhandle.

The nearest Superchargers from Charleston all take two hours or more of driving time, being located in Wytheville, Virginia; Lexington, Virginia; and Lexington, Kentucky, according to the company’s website.

West Virginia also features four destination chargers, but three are only available for patrons of the hotel or resort they are connected to. The one open to the public is at the Hawks Nest State Park in Ansted. Destination chargers use less power and have a slower charge time.

Wendell said the station is much needed for Tesla owners in the area or those just passing through, as Interstates 64, 77 and 79 are all close to the city.

“There’s [a Supercharger] in the Northern Panhandle, but there isn’t one in the body of the state,” he said. “When you take that into account, there’s no question it could succeed.”

The proximity to the newly built Starbucks also benefits Tesla drivers, Wendell said.

“Most of those charges take about 30 minutes, so they could walk over to Starbucks, check their emails and get a cup of coffee while they wait,” he said.

The station’s location near a hotel, Starbucks, Town Center mall and more is likely by design. According to Tesla’s website, chargers are installed near major corridors and various amenities.

Rob White, a Tesla owner from Richmond, Virginia, said the Charleston Supercharger is great news. He said he has a daughter that goes to college in St. Louis and being able to charge in Charleston will save three hours on his normal trip there.

“There are a lot of people who will be able to use [the station],” he said. “And since the drivers are spending time and money where the charger is, that helps the city it’s in, too. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

In February, Wendell said Tesla was having “conversations” about installing a station on the property.

Tesla vehicles still can’t be purchased in the Mountain State. Direct-to-consumer car companies are unable to open stores in West Virginia, following the passage of a 2015 Senate bill. Bill Cole, the Senate leader at the time and also a car dealer, said he didn’t have any involvement with the bill.

Last week, Tesla surpassed General Motors as the most valuable U.S. car maker, with a market value of $50.887 billion, according to Reuters. In its most recent earnings report, Tesla announced it lost $773 million in 2016, a step up from its loss of $887 million in 2015.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said Model 3 vehicles will go into production this year. Model 3 vehicles have been pushed as Tesla’s most affordable model and similar to the Model S.

Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.

Reach Max Garland at max.garland@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4886 or follow @MaxGarlandTypes on Twitter.

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