A Tesla Charging Station, Yes, but Where?

“We’re very active in looking for sites in which Tesla would actively invest,”

Representatives from Tesla Motors, the California manufacturer of electric cars, made a pitch to the East Hampton Town Board Tuesday for a charging station to be situated in the municipal parking lot at Kirk Park in Montauk. The board expressed interest in the idea, but was less enthusiastic about the location. 

Edwin Xiao, a senior project developer at the company, told the board that Tesla was working to build out charging stations and seeking public-private partnerships that would benefit municipalities and owners of electric cars alike. “We’re very active in looking for sites in which Tesla would actively invest,” he said. 

The Tesla supercharger station that was installed in a private parking lot in Southampton in 2016 is “getting congested in the summer,” said Mr. Xiao’s colleague, who did not give his name but who was identified by Kim Shaw, the town’s director of natural resources, as William Watts. “We’re looking to support existing and future owners who are waiting for Model 3s,” said Mr. Watts, referring to Tesla’s newest sedan. The company has taken more than 400,000 orders for the cars but has been slow to deliver. 

Tesla is most interested in installing charging stations for its own cars — there is no universal electric-vehicle charger — but is willing to include equipment to charge other electric vehicles, Mr. Watts said. Tesla would provide a transformer and pay the charging station’s electricity and construction costs. Installation would take three to six weeks, he said. 

“This is really meant for people doing long-distance travel,” he added, noting that many South Fork second-home owners do not have a home charger at their summer houses. 

The company has 1,308 supercharger stations with 10,622 superchargers in North America, according to its website. A network of “destination charging partners,” typically at hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers, also feature dedicated Tesla charging stations. 

Responding to a question from Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, Mr. Watts said he was not allowed to disclose how many Tesla cars are on the road, but did say the company enjoys more than 50 percent market share in the electric-vehicle category. “In each class, we outsell every competitor,” he said, predicting that the trend would, at present rates, continue. 

Board members seemed enthusiastic about Tesla’s proposal, and in introducing the company’s representatives Ms. Shaw said that it would allow the town to repurpose part of a grant awarded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Clean Energy Communities program. But members were skeptical about the location, and Ms. Overby, their liaison to the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, said that group was as well.

Why Montauk, the easternmost hamlet, and not centrally located in the town, Ms. Overby asked. Primarily, said Mr. Watts, because congestion is better avoided with a single large installation than with distributed smaller sites. “If you have two or four-stall sites, the chances of four people showing up at the same time are high,” he said. Where the average site used to feature eight stalls, it now houses closer to 20. That, he said, “speaks to the size of our growing fleet.” The company does intend to add charging stations in other hamlets, he added. 

The station’s ancillary component — the transformer — may not make for a good fit in the Kirk Park lot, said Councilman David Lys. The sports field at the south end of Edgemere Street was a more sensible location, Ms. Overby said. That location, in fact, dovetails with Mr. Watts’s assertion that most people get out of their car for more than five minutes while their electric vehicle is charging, the implication being that they will shop or dine during the 40 or more minutes of a typical charge. 

“How important to you is high visibility?” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc asked. “I can think of more appropriate areas” that would be in closer proximity to businesses than the Kirk Park lot. “For us,” he said, “visibility is a negative.” 

“I would want to make sure the largest amount of the public would be available to use this type of station,” Mr. Lys said, including owners of other manufacturers’ electric vehicles. 

Mr. Van Scoyoc asked about the charging station’s branding and advertising component. A small mark on one side of the station’s post is six to eight inches long and one inch high, Mr. Watts said. “It seems quite a bit larger in Southampton,” the supervisor said. In general, the representatives said, Tesla wants its charging stations illuminated, but would likely be amenable to foregoing that aspect. 

Overall, the proposal aligns with the town’s goals, the supervisor said. “The discussion comes down to location. We’ll probably have to discuss that more.”