Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bend getting charged up, Tesla style

On the north edge of Fred Meyer's parking lot
From slumbering mill outpost to micro brew mecca to cutting edge techno-town, Bend has arrived.

Tesla recently added eight charging stations in Bend for its electric sedan.

No, they're not located next to the Nordstrom store as they are at Washington Square in Portland.

We don't even have a Nordstrom, much to the chagrin of west Bend residents.

No, the charging stations are on the north end of the Fred Meyer parking lot on Bend's southern end of town. Fred Meyer may be declasse to the typical Tesla owner, but hey, when you need a charge, it'll do.

I've seen a few Tesla Model S sedans here in the past year. Also, have seen quite a few of them on the mountain passes headed towards Bend.

The base model Tesla S starts at around $70,000, or about three times the cost of the local favorite, a Subaru.

You can also upgrade to the $108,000 version. The Model X SUV starts at around $80,000.

Not exactly chump change to most Central Oregonians.

Actually, it's only pocket money to the techies in Silicon Valley, Redmond, Wash., and Hillsboro, Ore.

And, it means that those areas have Bend in its sights.

Yes, sometime in the future, Tesla will have a more "affordable" Model 3 for sale at around $35,000. Judging by how delayed its other models have been, though, it'll be a few years before we see them on the road in Central Oregon.

Still, Bend's population continues to race ahead along with its property values.

All this growth, however, means that Bend is unaffordable to the working class. Rental rates are soaring. I know one couple who saw their monthly bill jump from $1,000 to $1,500 last summer and it's rising to $1,750 this summer.

Like other hot spots in the country, Bend is divided between rich and poor. The middle class here is vanishing quicker than in most areas of the nation.

That's the price of success.

But, isn't that Tesla cool.

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