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Tesla and the New Frontier in Electric Car Competition

Stocks in this article: TSLAGMFNSANYTM

How much does all of this cost? Let's say that a Tesla charging station with 10 outlets on site costs a total of $2 million including real estate, construction, etc. Deploying 500 of these locations would be a nice round $1 billion. In the big scheme of automotive competitive investments and marketing spending, that's small potatoes. Tesla could probably raise enough capital to build over 1,000 by 2016.

I mean, even little Tesla will have completed this country-wide investment by 2015 or 2016.

Shouldn't the much larger car companies with far greater resources -- GM, Toyota and VW each sell around nine million cars per year -- feel terribly embarrassed by this? All of them are surely working on their own 200- to 300-mile, pure electric cars for mass production in the 2016-2019 range, but that may simply not be enough to compete effectively with Tesla.

In conclusion: It's not just about the car's range. Once we hit 200 to 300 miles for an all-electric car, it doesn't pay to build a longer-range electric car. It's far more important and efficient to build a fast-charging network instead -- not just 100 miles in 25 minutes, but 150 miles in 20 minutes and faster yet. Tesla is there and is doing it.

If the competition doesn't beat Tesla on this quick-charging metric soon, it will become Tesla's enduring and decisive competitive ace.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of The Street or its editorial staff.

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