Pasadena approves agreement with Tesla for largest fast-charging site in western U.S.

by in News

The Pasadena City Council voted on Monday, March 11 to join with Tesla in building the largest fast-charging site for electric vehicles in the western United States.

By a 7-0 vote, the Council authorized a five-year agreement with the Silicon Valley electric carmaker that creates 44 public-access fast-chargers on the roof level of the Marengo parking garage at 155 E. Green St.

Under the agreement to be executed by the city manager, Tesla would pay for 24 “super chargers” for Tesla vehicles only. In addition, the company would install the electric infrastructure to enable Pasadena Water and Power to add 20 fast-charging stations for non-Tesla vehicles. The wiring would save the city $140,000 in capital costs.

The city would get its first public Tesla charging station and increase its number of direct current fast chargers from one to 21. The only city DCFC is located in the Del Mar Gold Line station, and it is the most-used charging station in the city, said Marie Otto, PWP spokesperson.

A Nissan EV gets a super charge at the DCFC station in Pasadena’s Del Mar Gold Line Station on Monday, March 11, 2019. The City Council has prepared a contract with Tesla to build 44 of these types of fast chargers at the Marengo Avenue parking garage near Paseo Colorado. (Photo by Steve Scauzillo).

A fast charger or “Level 3” charger can provide 80 percent of a long-range electric car’s power in 20-30 minutes – about as long as it takes to fill up a large car with gasoline. Tesla, maker of three models of all-electric cars that travel more than 200 miles on a single charge, views its investment in DCFC technology as hand-in-glove with sales of its electric vehicles. Tesla has been the top seller of electric cars in California since November.

Typically, only long-range EVs can handle a fast-charger. Other long-range EVs include: Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-Tron, Hyundai Kona EV and Kia Niro EV.

By providing fast chargers, cities can attract zero-emission vehicles that do not add to smog and greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Pasadena says the Marengo Charging Plaza will help it attain its climate action plan goals, while providing more business to both Paseo Colorado and Old Pasadena retail areas.

Joel Levin, executive director of Plug-In America, an L.A-based group advocating for more public plugs, said Tesla and Pasadena are creating a new model by locating so many chargers in one site in an urban setting. This will benefit not just retailers but EV owners who live in downtown condos and townhomes and do not have charging stations at home.

“This is a new model. Putting in charging station groupings in denser areas for people with longer-range vehicles who live in apartments,” Levin said on Monday. “They can charge there once a week and they are good. It is really cutting edge.”