By Kirsten Korosec
April 24, 2017

Tesla says it will double the number of electric vehicle chargers in its network this year as the automaker prepares for the production of its mass-market vehicle the Model 3.

The plan, announced Monday in a blog post on the company’s website, will grow its global network of Superchargers from more than 5,400 today to more than 10,000 by the end of the year. Tesla, which had previously announced in its annual shareholder letter plans to double the network in North America, did not disclose the cost of such an ambitious expansion.

Many sites will soon enter construction to open in advance of the summer travel season, according to Tesla.

Tesla’s fast charging network, known as Superchargers, was launched in 2012 in an effort to encourage owners of the Model S and Model X electric vehicles to travel longer distances. All Tesla cars come standard with the hardware required for Supercharging. A Supercharger provides up to 170 miles of range in about 30 minutes.

The net book value of the company’s Supercharger network, as of December 31, 2016, was $207.2 million, according to its annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The value was based on 790 Supercharger locations globally. That number has since risen.

Tesla’s existing 830 fast-charging stations, each one with multiple superchargers, are typically located near interstates throughout the continental U.S., Europe, China, and Japan. Tesla has supercharger stations in 31 countries.

This latest effort shows a shift in Tesla’s thinking. The company says it will add charging locations within city centers as well as highway sites this year. The goal is to make “charging ubiquitous in urban centers,” Tesla says in its blog post.

The company says it will build larger sites along busy travel routes to accommodate several dozen Teslas simultaneously. These larger sites will also have customer service centers.

Courtesy of Tesla

Tesla is particularly focused on North America, where the number of superchargers will increase by 150%, according to its blog post. California, a key market for Tesla, will get more than 1,000 new superchargers this year.

The company is also building out its network of destination charging program. Under this program, the company has installed its high-power wall connector at hotels, resorts, restaurants, and other destinations a Model S or Model X owner is likely to visit. Tesla has more than 9,000 destination charging connectors (at more than 4,000 locations) and says it will expand to 15,000 by the end of the year.

Tesla announced last year that customers who buy cars after January 1, 2017 will have 400 kilowatt hours, or about 1,000 miles, of free charging every year. Once an owner surpasses that amount, a small fee will be charged. Tesla says the amount, which varies depending on location, will cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.

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