Tesla just found a new way to deal with "range anxiety."
The electric automaker -- long dogged by drivers' concerns that their batteries would run low too far from home or a charging station -- partnered last week with home-sharing service Airbnb to install chargers in a handful of hosts' homes.
The rollout will be limited at first. For now, only Airbnb hosts with a minimum four-star rating after at least five bookings are eligible. The hosts must list the entire home. Though the $750 charger is free for eligible hosts, they must still pay an electrician to install the device, which can cost up to $900.
The offer is restricted to California, though the companies plan to expand to other locations at an unspecified later date.
Tesla has struggled to quell anxiety over traveling distances in its signature Model S since The New York Times infamously published a review of the sedan in 2013, arguing that the car stalled out on a highway when the battery died. CEO Elon Musk aggressively debunked the story, arguing in a blog post that the journalist failed to meet all the factory specifications to milk the charge for its furthest possible range.
In March, Tesla upgraded its software to integrate charging stations into navigation routes, communicate with a network of charging stations and warn the driver if the vehicle is out of range.
While its new partnership with Airbnb may be partly a public relations stunt, it proves that, when connected with a network of available rentals, drivers could reasonably plan road trips and rely on other Tesla owners to keep their vehicles charged. It's a model that can scale.
That isn't to say Airbnb isn't getting something out of it, too. Tesla, for now, is a luxury automaker. Its Model S starts at about $70,000, but the price quickly increases into the six-figure range as buyers add on more features. Those renters can likely afford a hotel room, but a partnership with Tesla may drive them to an Airbnb listing instead.
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