|Dave Guilford is enterprise editor of Automotive News|
FRANKFURT -- How hot is Tesla? The California electric-vehicle maker drew a jostling crowd of perhaps 100 journalists for its press conference at the Frankfurt auto show Tuesday without the benefit of a new car to show.
Tesla executives touted the Model S, now on sale in Europe. But much of their time was spent talking about the network of 120 kilowatt "superchargers" it plans to build in Europe, as it is doing in the United States.
It's pretty clear that Tesla's solution to the snail's pace of EV charger deployment is characteristically brash: It's building its own infrastructure.
"We're going to be expanding it aggressively in this coming year," said Diarmuid O'Connell, vice president of business development.
Tesla has put a ring of chargers in Norway already, allowing easier travel throughout that hotbed of EV enthusiasm.
The chargers can restore a lithium ion battery to 50 percent charge in about 20 minutes, O'Connell said.
Tesla has said that it will have sufficient chargers in the United States in 2014 to allow travel up and down the East and West coasts, as well as coast-to-coast travel. Beyond that, it will install chargers -- available for free use -- as pockets of Tesla buyers pop up throughout the United States.
Asked how big the network will get, O'Connell said, "My answer is, I don't know but it will be whatever it needs to be."