A fully electric car is about as rare in South Dakota as an 85-degree forecast in January, so the installation of an electric car charging station in the Rushmore Mall parking lot has raised a few eyebrows.

The four electric car supercharger stations were recently installed just north of the Red Lobster by the main entrance to the Rushmore Mall parking lot by Tesla Motors, a California-based company that produces electric vehicles.

Even though there are no Tesla Motors dealers in South Dakota, the company decided to install the chargers as part of a long-term goal to enable electric car owners to drive from Los Angeles to New York, said Patrick Jones, communications manager for Tesla Motors.

The chargers were built at Tesla Motors' expense and can be used free of charge, he said.

Jones said the company believes electric cars will grow in popularity as time goes on, so it wants to have the infrastructure in place when that happens.

"When combustion engine vehicles were first created, gas stations were pretty few and far between," he said. "Once they got popular, gas stations became a lot more commonplace. We're trying to do the same thing here."

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A fully charged Model S electric sedan, the company's flagship vehicle, can travel about 270 miles before it needs to be re-charged, Jones said. The chargers are being strategically placed near malls and shopping centers, so people can shop and eat while their car charges, he said.

The stations can restore half of the vehicle's power in about 20 minutes, Jones said.

The next closest station to the east will open in Mitchell within the week, Jones said.

About 21,000 models were manufactured in 2013, Jones said. Most of the cars on the road were sold in cities along the West Coast, he said.

The mid-level standard version of the vehicle, can be ordered online at Teslamotors.com for $81,070, not including a $7,500 federal tax rebate. The vehicle takes about 2-3 months to be delivered, according to the company website. 

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Contact Scott Feldman at 394-8337 or scott.feldman@rapidcityjournal.com

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