Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) isn't the type of company to wait for the auto market to tell it what to do -- it just does what it wants. That's why just a few days ago the company's CEO, Elon Musk, announced that Tesla will triple its supercharging battery stations, making a cross-country trip in its vehicles a reality.
Tesla's innovations seem to be moving at the speed of light recently, and investors are responding. The company's stock is up almost 195% since the beginning of this year (yes, you read that right). But it's not just the company's stock investors should be pleased with -- it's Tesla's discipline and drive in building a great car company.
In the past, a high-mileage trip was the bane of existence for electric cars. Tesla helped change that situation with its Model S and its range of up to 265 miles. For comparison's sake, it's worth noting that Ford's (NYSE:F) Focus Electric gets 111 city miles and the all-electric Honda (NYSE:HMC) Fit EV has a range of 118 miles. The cars aren't entirely comparable, considering that the Model S starts at $62,400 and both Ford and Honda's vehicles are priced under $40,000 . But the Focus and the Fit aren't a four-door sports sedan with base model achieving 0-to-60 mph in 5.9 seconds, either.
As if the Model S's mileage range wasn't enough, Tesla said this week that its new supercharging stations -- which allow the car to recharge halfway in 30 minutes -- will make it possible to drive from New York to Los Angeles by the end of the year. Musk said Tesla is tripling the supercharger production this year and that they'll be available in most metropolitan areas by the end of 2013.
The company only has nine charging stations right now and was planning 100 stations by 2015, but Tesla has ramped up the production faster than previously planned. Increasing charging stations is one key component in growing the car company from a niche electric vehicle company to more of a mainstream option for consumers.
Aiming for average
The second piece of the puzzle for Tesla is lowering the cost of its vehicles. In the next three to four years, Tesla plans to introduce a $30,000 car -- which is the current average price of a new car. If Tesla does, it'll be cheaper than the current version of the Focus Electric and the Fit EV.
Not only is Tesla aiming to bring its electric-car prices down to the level of internal combustion cars, but it's also already outselling cheaper electric vehicles on the road. Ford sold a total of 685 Focus Electrics in 2012, and Honda has sold or leased only 161 Fit EVs since last year. Tesla, on the other hand, has sold 4,750 Model S vehicles in Q1 2013 alone.
With its new push to build even more supercharging stations, Tesla is showing that it's committed to its customers -- and stock investors -- for the long run. The company has bet its existence on electric vehicles, and it's ramping up charging-station production to meet the demand of current consumers and future ones. Compare that with many auto manufacturers who view their electric vehicles as side projects. Tesla doesn't have the option of failing, and it's fighting tooth and nail to show that an electric-vehicle company can survive -- and thrive -- in the auto market. So far, it's proving itself right.