by Joni Astrup
Denis Rinehart and his wife, Melinda Lampert, drove their electric car from Elk River to Florida this summer with no problems.
Their Tesla Model S, a sedan, runs exclusively on electricity and can go as far as 260 miles on a charge. Its navigational system is able to chart out a route that shows charging stations along the way, such as “destination charging” stations at hotels, resorts and restaurants as well as “Tesla Supercharger” stations, where they can charge the vehicle in a timely fashion for free.
There are 934 Tesla Supercharger stations alone in North America, which can charge the vehicles in a matter of minutes. Eight of them are in Minnesota in Worthington, Albert Lea, Eden Prairie, Oakdale, Hinckley, Duluth, Baxter and at the Clearwater Travel Plaza near St. Cloud, according to the Tesla website.
There’s also a growing network of other charging stations, including a new public charging station in downtown Elk River (see related story).
Closer to home, the Tesla worked well for Rinehart to make his commute to his job as an air traffic controller supervisor at the Anoka County—Blaine Airport until recently retiring. Lampert clocks a similar number of miles on her commute to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and Unity in Fridley, where she works as a physician’s assistant. She drives a Tesla Model X, which is a SUV.
Rinehart said he first heard about Teslas from a friend at work. Intrigued, he researched them online. Then, in 2014, while on a family trip to California, he and his wife visited the Tesla factory in Fremont. After taking a Tesla for a test drive, they decided to buy one.
Rinehart said energy conservation was a driving factor in deciding to buy an electric vehicle. He liked the Tesla because it was “green,” and with gas selling for around $3.50 a gallon when they got the Tesla Model S, an electric vehicle was especially attractive.
Gas has since dropped in price, but the Teslas remain economical to drive. Their old Honda Odyssey cost $40 to fill up with gas — more than it costs to charge both Teslas for a month, he said.
They most often charge their vehicles by plugging into a special charging unit at their home.
Rinehart said he loves the car. It is quiet, reliable and powerful and it appeals to an aspect of his personality.
“I’m kind of a gadget guy,” he explained.
Rinehart said they are still hanging on to a gas-powered car, a 19-year-old Porsche.
But, he said he’s only driven it once this year, preferring to be behind the wheel of his Tesla.