Chinese Tesla owner turns power line into illegal personal charging station

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 February, 2015, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 November, 2015, 12:02pm

The owner of a Tesla electric car in China's Sichuan province came up with an innovative way of charging his vehicle: plug it directly into a power line. 

Photos posted on Weibo show a red Tesla Model S with a number of cables connecting it to a nearby wooden power line. One photo showed the car's eletronic display displaying a charging symbol. 

Taken during the Lunar New Year holiday somewhere near Chengdu, the photos show that the driver was obviously prepared to implement the "homemade" charging solution, with cables running from the public power line into a transformer box to reduce the risk they would damage the US$120,000 sports car. 

China is a key market for the electric car manufacturer, which began direct sales in the country last year. 

“I think [China is] really important. I think it could be as big as the US market – maybe bigger,” CEO Elon Musk said in August.

Despite a deal with China Unicom to build 400 charging stations in more than 100 cities, Tesla customers have voiced complaints that coverage is still lacking, with one owner building his own ad-hoc charging network across the country. 

Zong Yi bought 20 charging pillars from Tesla at 5,000 yuan each and installed them in 16 cities between Beijing and his home in Guangzhou, allowing him to drive his electric car, bought in the capital, home. 

“I thought it would be cool if I could build China’s first electric-car-charging road,” Zong told the Wall Street Journal. A spokeswoman told the newspaper Tesla was aware, and approved of, the businessman's plans. 

The company was less impressed at the Weibo poster's charging hack, according to Tech in Asia. In a statement posted online, Tesla warned that "personally sourced power doesn’t have the right voltage regulation and is very dangerous," and encouraged customers to call its hotline if they had any issues over the holiday period.