Tesla Races Into Next Dimension for Green Cars

Tesla Model S ITesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) seems bent on eliminating “range anxiety” for good. With its Supercharger network firmly in place, the electric vehicle maker sent two of its Model S cars on a trip from L.A. to New York with the goal of spending the least down-time ever for charging in a U.S. cross-country trip. Riding a bold publicity stunt staged in bruising mid-winter conditions, Tesla hopes to enter a new dimension for green cars, one in which the public is as confident in its electric vehicles as the company’s bullish investors are.

To pull off the feat of scrapping range anxiety for good, Tesla wants U.S. consumers to know they can live without gas while getting wherever they’d like to go in a Model S. Supercharger stations can put nearly half a charge in a Tesla in just twenty minutes’ time, free of charge. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the company had completed its coverage of the New York-L.A. trip on January 26, but the company decided showing the range of the Model S was an ever better idea.

At midnight on Wednesday, January 29, Tesla’s “Cross Country Rally” team left L.A. for the first leg of its journey. By Friday, January 31, the two-car crew was battered by 12 inches of snow and winds topping 60 mph in Colorado, an event which the company described in a blog post. Plans to pull off a least-ever non-driving time have Guinness Book of World Records implications. Though it isn’t exactly a hotly contested category, Tesla will claim the record for electric vehicles crossing the country.

While the Rall Cross Country team continued its run through treacherous conditions in the U.S. interior, Tesla was enjoying some tasty publicity from drag-racing enthusiasts. Drag Times posted a video of a Model S beating a Corvette Stingray in a quarter-mile drag race at the Palm Beach International Speedway during the last weekend of January.

Both cars were performance models. For Tesla, the car of choice was the 85 kWh Performance model; for the Corvette, the racer had the Z51 performance package with six-speed automatic transmission. The Model S managed to top the ‘Vette in the quarter-mile drag on the first try, but ceded victory to the ‘Vette in round two. Both races finished with the cars less than one tenth of a second apart. All variables aside, electric car detractors may have to bite their tongues before denigrating the EV darling or the green car industry as a whole. At least with respect to the Model S, electric vehicles can perform with the big boys.

Achievements of this nature are exactly what Tesla needs in its drive to capture the attention of the entire U.S. auto consumer base. Looking at the capabilities of the Model S, it’s impossible to fault the car on performance or style. Only the price tag is forbidding.

Should the cross-country gambit go off as planned, range anxiety should also take a back seat in the conversation. Yet maybe the most downplayed aspect of the debate is the electric vehicle’s ability to minimize the United States’ dependence on oil from foreign sources. Cars traveling across the expansive nation without the assistance of any petroleum offer a viable way forward for the rhetoric to end and new energy policies to take shape. Tesla may play a key role in that high-stakes development.

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