by: JEFF MCDONALD  - Marion County Commissioner Patti Milne, Rep. Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene), and Greig Olson of Elmers Restaurant cut the ribbon at Teslas new Supercharger site. Hordes of Tesla car owners and supporters descended upon Woodburn last week for a look at the first Supercharger station to be located in Oregon.

The event had the feel of a historic moment.

Maybe it was the gathering of about 100 well-heeled Tesla owners who parked their pricey electric vehicles in the parking lot off Interstate 5 near Elmer’s Restaurant.

One of the speakers made a pronouncement that brought wild applause from those in attendance.

“By turkey dinner (Thanksgiving) you guys will be able to go from here to the Bay Area, which really means you will be able to go from Vancouver (Wash.) to Mexico — all for free,” said Troy Jones, Portland-based senior regional sales manager for the Silicon Valley-based Tesla.

Greig Olson, whose brother Eric is co-owner of Elmer’s, read a prepared statement that compared the opening of the Supercharger stations to hammering the golden spike to complete the Transcontinental Railroad in 1863.

“Tesla is making history before our eyes,” Greig Olson said. “This will deeply change how we navigate our roads.”

Elmer’s has worked with Portland General Electric to bring in both public electric vehicle charging stations and the Tesla stations for more than a year.

Marion County Commissioner Patti Milne said the opening of a new charging station near the Woodburn Premier Outlets could provide an economic development and tourism boost for Woodburn.

“This complements the work that is being done on the interchange and will really support our local businesses,” Milne said.

The so-called “fastest charging stations in the world” take less than an hour to complete a full charge, compared with up to several hours for standard charging stations.

A full charge on an 85-kilowatt battery lasts about 300 miles for Tesla vehicles. Drivers also can use adapters to plug into public charging stations.

Centrally located between hot electric vehicle markets in Eugene and Portland, Woodburn was an ideal spot to locate the first Supercharger station in Oregon, said Patrick Jones, spokesman for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla Motors Inc.

“We’re working to electrify I-5,” Patrick Jones said. “This is the latest edition.”

Only Tesla vehicles will be able to access the Supercharger units, which are available in 19 locations. By the end of the year, Tesla plans to have three fully enabled major routes: from Vancouver, B.C. to Phoenix, Ariz., from Los Angeles to New York and from Boston to Miami, Patrick Jones said.

He added that Tesla vehicles start at $64,000 and range up to more than $100,000 with all the bells and whistles.

Within four years, the company hopes to release more affordable models priced at around $35,000, he said.

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