Town Square will become a destination for Tesla electric car owners looking for a quick recharge for their journey. And, the city is hoping they’ll spend some money while they wait.
Tesla plans to install a Supercharger station with 10 charging spots in the western parking lot near Carroll Avenue, a short walk from the company’s new Southlake Gallery that opened last month in Southlake Town Square.
A station in Arlington opened in May in the Convention Center parking lot, near Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium. Arlington put up $150,000 of the roughly $250,000 cost to build the station, which has 10 individual Superchargers available 24/7. Beyond the prestige, the city expects to benefit tangibly from a traveling demographic with significant disposable income.
Southlake is not spending any money for the Supercharger station, which city officials say should be open for the holiday season.
There’s also a Supercharger station in Denton, the last stop before the Red River. About 100 miles to the west on Interstate 20 is a Supercharger at the Cisco Travel Plaza, and there’s one 100 miles to the east at the Sulphur Springs Police Department. Waco has one at the Collin Street Bakery along Interstate 35, nearly 100 miles south, with a second coming soon.
But, the Supercharger station in Southlake, which was approved by the City Council on Oct. 3, will be different.
“It’s the only Supercharger that has real retail, hotel and restaurants,” said Tesla owner and Southlake resident Rick Bollar said. “... I think a lot of people will come because there’s Superchargers there.”
There are nearly 50 Teslas in Southlake alone and 1,800 throughout North Texas.
Tesla has built a Supercharger network spanning most major interstates in North America but it has been focused on rural locations to relieve range anxiety between metropolitan areas. The Supercharger can give up to 170 miles of electric range in 30 minutes according to Tesla reports.
Kenny Bartz, market lead for charging infrastructure development at Tesla, said these Superchargers are critical to increasing vehicle sales. Over the next 18 months, urban Superchargers in Arlington and Southlake will become more prevalent as more Tesla Model 3s are delivered, he said. The mass adoption electric vehicle is about half the price of the luxurious Model S or X.
“Tesla customers feel more comfortable with more places to charge their car if they don’t have at-home charging,” Bartz said.
The Southlake Supercharger will be perfect for Tesla owners traveling north or south who need to charge between Waco and Denton, for example, Bartz said.
Mayor Pro Tem Randy Williamson welcomed the chargers and asked whether Tesla would crack down on other vehicles using those parking spaces, especially during special events.
“Those spots are never used and they’re 100 yards from the closest retail establishment,” Williamson said. “I want to make sure folks that drive Teslas have an opportunity to use them. I think it’s going to be awesome for Southlake.”
Jason Kasal, senior leasing director for RPAI Southwest Management, the landlord for Town Square, said they will not enforce a Tesla-only parking rule for those spaces and the signs will not say Tesla only.
Tesla owners who purchased before January are grandfathered in and can use the Superchargers for free. Owners who buy after that will pay a fee through their Tesla account, though the carmaker does offer ways for them to get free charging through referrals.
Tesla’s gallery gets people up close and personal with the high-end electric vehicles but they are unable to complete the purchase or talk about it with Tesla employees. That’s because the carmaker is restricted by franchise dealer laws in Texas. Prospective buyers can purchase online or talk on the phone to Tesla employees in California.
Tesla already has five chargers near the gallery that are not for public use — they keep the fleet of electric vehicles charged for test drives. Town Square does have six public chargers, two in the west parking garage and four in the east parking garage, that are for all electric vehicles, not just Tesla.
Tesla plans more Supercharger stations in Grapevine, Fort Worth and Dallas.
This report contains information from Star-Telegram archives.