Tesla Seems To Be Focusing On National Park Access With Supercharger Network

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In two other recent articles, I spotted some upcoming Tesla Supercharger stations that will greatly improve access to national parks. Now, after seeing a third and then a fourth and a fifth and a sixth example, I’m seeing a pattern in Tesla’s behavior. And, it’s a very good thing, because the company’s working to improve access to national parks!

The first one I found was in Texas. A brand new station (Alpine, TX) and one upcoming one (Terlingua) will give drivers a clear corridor to visit the remote Big Bend National Park, along with Big Bend Ranch State Park. This will make it not only easier for people to drive in and out of the area, but in the case of vehicles where you can use the battery pack’s energy for other things, it could be good for things like camping. Travel into Mexico could also become easier for some.

The other station I identified recently was in Ely, Nevada. While Nevada has been improving its charging infrastructure in rural areas for years, some of the 50 kW CCS stations aren’t in great shape. The one in Ely isn’t reliable at all. But, with the addition of 8 V3 stalls with NACS compatibility (via an adapter for cars today), that station is going to improve access for everyone going to or from Great Basin National Park.

It’s said that once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern (or a habit, or enemy action, depending on where you source the quote). Just a few days ago, a new permit was pulled for a Supercharger station in Bryce Canyon City, Utah. If you’re familiar with U.S. national parks, you probably recognize the name of that city, because it’s right next to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Part Of A Much Bigger Dead Zone

If it weren’t for a ChargePoint station in Kanab, Utah, and a Supercharger in Page, Arizona, Bryce Canyon would be part of the same Navajo-Hopi charging dead zone I described in this article. But that Page Supercharger is only a V2, so it won’t work for NACS vehicles without an upgrade, so in some ways, this southern Utah dead zone is a bay or a panhandle of sorts.

A screenshot of southern Utah on Plugshare.com.

Much of the dead zone makes sense because it’s taken up by land that has no roads at all. Places like Canyonlands and the San Rafael Swell are simply too rugged to build a road or even a basic trail on, so people have been going around them for thousands of years. Without water, all but narrow strips along rivers was unsettled for most of that time, too.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some really cool things in the area. Canyonlands is a national park, and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area hosts the shrinking Lake Powell. Capitol Reef National Park is another beautiful area, along with Utah state parks, including Goblin Valley and the Kodachrome Basin. There’s also the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is named for the way the layers of earth are like a giant staircase coming up from the Grand Canyon.

With most of the important interstate and travel routes covered, Tesla seems to now be focusing on these sorts of areas that people don’t usually need to get to but still badly want to visit. While this new charging station will be most useful for people visiting Bryce Canyon, it’s also going to be very helpful for people visiting all of those other areas between the major north-south highways. 

More Is Likely Coming In Southern Utah

Looking back at the efforts to build a corridor to Big Bend, it seems likely that Tesla will use this new station as the first in a line to cover all of the popular tourist areas further into the dead zone. If I had to guess, I’d say that the company will probably be looking to add two more stations in Torrey and Hanksville to cover the area’s network of small roads better. 

But, as usual, we can’t rely on Tesla alone to build a national charging network for the United States. As good as the company’s charging is in terms of both reach and reliability, nobody can undertake such an effort alone. So, we need to encourage other charging providers and small businesses to step up and offer a lot more in the coming years. Some of them no doubt will do it, but we need to start letting those businesses know that EV drivers would visit more if there was some charging.

More in New Mexico, Montana, & Oregon

Another coming Supercharger I had already heard about in Alamogordo, New Mexico, also seems to be part of this trend. Like in Utah, this is in a big dead zone that needs to be covered better, but Alamogordo is also next to White Sands National Park. So, this plan will definitely kill two birds with one stone in much the same way.

Another permit that has been around for about a year is in Kalispell, Wyoming. Again, it’s a big dead zone that needs charging anyway, but the company’s placing the new station not far from a park, this time Glacier National Park. 

So, I decided to start looking around the map to find more upcoming chargers, and it wasn’t long before I spotted another one in Chemult, Oregon. This time, a gap is being filled in the network, but it’s also not that far from Crater Lake National Park. 

Between all of these locations, it’s pretty clear that somebody is making plans to make sure all of the parks are easier to get to, including for EVs that need to connect with an adapter. While not always along the beaten paths between the big cities, these parks are still places that a new car buyer expects their car to be able to reach. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it again: nobody wants to buy 99% of a car. EV infrastructure in far-flung places might not be used as heavily as the stations in the cities and along the interstates, but they’re nonetheless very important to the overall EV charging situation and essential to getting more people to jump aboard.

Featured photo by Peter Densmore, National Park Service (Public Domain)

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