The growing coast-to-coast network of Tesla Motors electric vehicle supercharger stations includes a stop in Onalaska.

Construction began Dec. 2 on a six-stall charging station off Midwest Drive in the parking lot of Reed Music Studios, said Brea Grace, Onalaska’s land use and development director.

Representatives of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based car company worked with Onalaska officials to select a location for the supercharger that was near major highways as well as lodging and restaurants, so Tesla owners can stay occupied while their vehicle recharges.

“This is neat for the city of Onalaska to be open to new technologies and to facilitate the growth of these new technologies in the city,” Grace said.

The Onalaska supercharger is one of five planned for Wisconsin, including a station in Mauston that opened earlier this month and proposed sites in Madison, Pleasant Prairie and Eau Claire.

A Tesla Model S can go 240 miles on a single charge, so the superchargers are strategically positioned to allow owners to make cross country trips. Superchargers use direct current rather than the conventional alternating current found in household outlets, thus allowing them to replenish a Tesla’s battery roughly 20 times faster than most public charging stations, according to Tesla. A full charge at a supercharger takes about 45 minutes.

With a starting retail price of $70,000, the Tesla Model S is still pricier than what the average consumer can afford. But with the growing buzz surrounding the brand and the company’s plan to cover 98 percent of the United States with its superchargers by 2015, the market is poised for expansion, especially as car companies compete to make electric cars more affordable.

“I’ve heard interest from a number of people,” Grace said. “I think (electric cars) are attractive to them, especially with a Tesla charging station coming in.”

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Entertainment and county government reporter

Randy Erickson covers arts and entertainment and county government for the La Crosse Tribune. Contact him at 608-791-8219 or randy.erickson@lee.net.

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