2014 Tesla Model S in ChinaEnlarge Photo
The question of how to build a comprehensive network of public electric-car charging stations has often puzzled government officials and carmakers alike.
For plug-in car adoption to grow, most observers feel there must be plenty of public charging available to boost confidence--whether or not it actually gets used.
Now, one Chinese owner Tesla Model S electric luxury sedan is taking matters into his own hands.
Guangdong-based businessman Zong Yi is undertaking a campaign to build an "electric vehicle charging road" from Beijing to Guangzhou, according to a new report from China's Caixin Online (via MarketWatch).
2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]Enlarge Photo
He estimates the total cost was twice that of his Model S, which starts at 734,000 Chinese yuan, or about $121,000 at current exchange rates.
Using Sina Weibo--China's answer to Twitter--and the messaging app WeChat, Zong initially drummed up 500 responses, giving him a large surplus of possible station sites.
This allowed him to prioritize amenities like proximity to four-star hotels and free parking to choose the final 16 station sites, which were posted to an online map of the "China Electric Road."
While the network Zong is building is an important first step, it isn't perfect.
The stations are compatible with non-Tesla electric cars, but their spacing--from 62 to 248 miles apart--leaves gaps that are too big for the electric range of most of the rest of today's plug-in cars.
Because they are 240-volt Level 2 stations--not the Supercharger DC fast-charging stations Tesla itself is working to install in China--Model S owners will also be in for a bit of a wait while they recharge.
Times for a full Tesla recharge are likely to average around 8 hours, compared to 20 minutes for charging to 80 percent of capacity using a Supercharger.
Drivers may at least get some free charging out of the deal. Zong himself won't institute a fee, although the owners of the parking spaces where the stations are located may.
The prospect of driving an electric car between two of China's major cities without getting stuck, though, could be priceless.