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New era: Electric car station opens in Mitchell

This Tesla recharging station is now open near the Goodwill store along West Havens Avenue in Mitchell. Six charging spots are at the station, intended for the Tesla Model S electric car. Two other South Dakota stations have been installed near Interstate 90 at Rapid City and Murdo. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

Tesla Motors, a California-based electric car company, has opened charging stations in Mitchell and two other South Dakota cities.

Tesla’s charging station in Mitchell is at 1305 W. Havens Ave., tucked between County Fair Food Store and Dairy Queen. There are spots at the station for six vehicles. Elsewhere in South Dakota, the company recently opened charging stations in Murdo and Rapid City.

In 2012, Tesla began building a network of fast charging stations, known as Superchargers, with the intent of making coast-to-coast travel possible for owners of the Tesla Model S, a fully electric sedan.

“Within the next few weeks, you’ll actually be able to drive from Los Angeles all the way to New York using the Supercharger network,” said Patrick Jones, a spokesman for Tesla, in an interview Thursday with The Daily Republic.

The Mitchell City Council approved an ordinance in November amending the city of Mitchell’s municipal code to accommodate electric car charging stations.

Beyond Tesla’s three charging stations in South Dakota, the company’s next closest charging stations are in Lusk, Wyo., to the west and in Worthington, Minn., to the east, Jones said.

Tesla’s charging stations allow Model S drivers to travel for about three hours, then charge for about 20 to 30 minutes and get back on the road with nearly a full charge, according to the company’s news release.

“They’re free to use, forever,” Jones said. “There is no cost involved.”

By 2015, the company hopes to have built enough charging stations to provide coverage for 98 percent of the U.S. and parts of Canada, the company’s website says.

“We’re just going to continue to rapidly expand our network as fast as possible,” Jones said.

The Model S starts at around $70,000 when equipped with a 60 kilowatt-hour battery, which has a range of approximately 208 miles, according to the company’s website. The basic Model S can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and has a top speed of 120 mph.

The range of the Model S jumps to 265 miles with a more powerful 85 kwh battery, but the price of the car also increases to around $80,000. With the more powerful battery, the Model S can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and has a top speed of 125 mph.

Plugged in to a standard 120-volt outlet, the Model S charges at a rate of about five miles of range per hour of charge, according to the company’s website. On a 240-volt outlet, the car charges at a rate of 31 miles of range per hour of charge.

The charging station in Mitchell has a 480-volt outlet.