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New Chargers Will Be Blackout-Proof, Says Tesla's Musk

Thursday, 30 May 2013 | 4:42 PM ET
Tesla Motors
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Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors is building out its supercharger network adding a couple of hundred charging stations by 2015 that will be able to provide power even if the national grid goes down.

The solar-powered supercharger stations will have battery packs for grid storage of power so they'll work "even if there's a zombie apocalypse," CEO Elon Musk said. He then laughed and added, "I can see the headlines now: 'Musk warns of zombie apocalypse.' "

The battery storage capability of the stations was one technological advancement Musk pointed to in explaining the future of Tesla's charging network.

Coast to Coast by Year-End

Starting next month, Tesla will begin a rapid expansion of its supercharger network. It will triple to 24 locations in the U.S. by the end of June with new charging locations in the Pacific Northwest, Texas, Colorado and Illinois.

(Read More: Tesla Repays $465 Million Loan from Federal Program)

Then over the next two years Tesla will add another "couple hundred" locations, Musk said.

"The overarching goal here is to give people a sense of total freedom of travel," he said. "We don't want people to feel constrained that because they have an electric car they won't be able to drive where they want and how they want."

Tesla Supercharger Expansion
Tesla is tripling the size of its supercharger network by the end of June, reports CNBC's Phil LeBeau.

Range anxiety has long been a major psychological hurdle for electric car owners and prospective buyers—one they've largely dealt with by thinking they have to limit themselves to local driving.

(Read more: Tesla To Triple Supercharger Network: LA to NY by Year End)

That has to change, according to Musk. "We will do whatever it takes to ensure that they have the same sense of freedom," he said.

Charging Time Cut in Half

While Tesla expands its supercharger network, it will also halve the time needed for a Model S quick charge. In just over 20 minutes, the vehicle will receive enough power to drive for three hours. The company is testing the technology and expects to have it in all stations by the end of the summer.

(Read More: Tesla Changes Financing Plan to Silence Critics, Attract Buyers)

The 20-minute supercharge will allow people on road trips "to stop at normal times," Musk said.

Speaking of road trips, Musk said he plans to take one with his family later this year on which he'll use the expanded supercharger network. The itinerary will include stops he made during a trip he made in college.

"It might end up being like some Chevy Chase movie," Musk said, chuckling at the thought of taking his family to the Grand Canyon, Chicago and New York.

Tune in for an interview with Musk live on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Friday at 10:30 am ET.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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