Las Vegas ready to welcome more electric vehicles

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Tesla Supercharge Station at the LINQ High Roller

Wade Vandervort

A Tesla vehicle is parked at a new Tesla Supercharger station next to the Linq High Roller on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 | 2 a.m.

Tom Volk sat in his Tesla Model 3 as it charged at the Railroad Pass Travel Center in Henderson.

Volk, a businessman from Phoenix, had also stopped in Arizona to charge up his electric car on the way to Las Vegas.

While the Model 3 has a maximum range of about 240 to 310 miles, Volk isn’t put off by the more frequent pit stops on longer trips. He said the decision to go with an electric car over a traditional gas guzzler was about “style and lifestyle.”

“We’re moving toward electric,” Volk said. “With the power and the comfort and the luxury, you’re not trading off as much anymore with these vehicles.”

Electric vehicles are, indeed, becoming more common on Nevada roads, although they are still less than 1% of registered vehicles in the state.

According to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, 6,928 electric vehicles were registered in the state as of Sept. 1. That’s up from just 1,200 in 2015.

Meanwhile, there are more than 318,000 electric vehicles registered in neighboring California, a major drive-in tourist market for Las Vegas, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. visitors to Las Vegas in 2018 were from Southern California, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported.

As more electric vehicles hit the streets, more places to charge them are popping up in Las Vegas.

In July, Tesla and Caesars Entertainment joined to open a V3 supercharging station off Linq Lane, next to the Linq Promenade and the High Roller observation wheel. The first of its kind in Nevada, it features two-dozen V3 hookups that allow Tesla owners to rapidly charge their cars, getting up to about 180 miles of range in 15 minutes or so.

For Caesars, it’s part of the company’s commitment to sustainable energy, said Eric Dominguez, the company’s vice president for engineering and sustainable operations.

“We made a commitment a while back to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2025,” Dominguez said. “This is something that helps to promote clean transportation. It really aligns with our environmental commitments here at Caesars.”

Users are charged a per-minute rate that fluctuates but is typically significantly cheaper than the cost of gasoline.

The gated station is powered by canopies lined with solar panels, though it can also pull from the power grid if necessary, a Tesla spokesman said.

Other Tesla charging locations include 701 Bridger Ave. in downtown Las Vegas, Town Square mall, Tivoli Village, the Aria, Bellagio and Railroad Pass Travel Center.

Besides Tesla-specific stations, there are dozens of places to charge other types of electric vehicles along the Strip and throughout the valley.

Electric vehicle chargers are available at all Caesars properties in Nevada, and MGM Resorts International has 26 generic charging stations up and down the Strip, including at Mandalay Bay, Luxor, the Mirage, New York-New York and Circus Circus.

Wynn Las Vegas and Encore guests also have electric vehicle charging options as part of their valet services, a company spokesman said.

And UNLV announced this month that electric vehicle charging stations are now available at the Harry Reid Research and Technology Park.

Marco Velotta, a planner with the city of Las Vegas, said officials are exploring ways to make Las Vegas more electric-vehicle friendly as they put together a 2050 master plan.

“It’s all kind of based on what the market does,” Velotta said. “The city doesn’t have an official policy on electric charging. Part of that is it’s the chicken-and-egg question. The city does have electric vehicles in its fleet and vehicle charging at city facilities.”

Electric vehicle charging is available at eight city locations, including City Hall, the Stupak Community Center, Veterans Memorial Community Center and Mirabelli Community Center. And there are plans for four additional stations, including at Symphony Park.

Charging hookups are also available downtown at the Clark County Government Center.