Tesla plans Marin electric car service center

Fast-growing electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc. (teslamotors.com) plans to open a service center in Marin County. It's part of a plan by the Palo Alto-based company to double the number of repair facilities -- currently 18 worldwide, including a large new one at the Fremont factory -- by year-end, according to the company's July 25 report on its second fiscal quarter.

[caption id="attachment_59068" align="alignright" width="405" caption="Tesla Motors is rapidly expanding its network of service centers as the Series S starts rolling out to customers this summer."][/caption]

This push for opening service centers coincides with the startup car maker's start of deliveries in June of its Model S sedan, retailing for $50,000 to $100,000, depending on options and before clean-energy rebates. The company had 12,200 Model S reservations by late July and plans to deliver 5,000 this year, ramping up to 20,000 a year eventually. Tesla had sold more than 2,350 $100,000-plus Roadster sports cars between 2008 and late last month.

The startup car maker leased 8,000 square feet of industrial space at 470 DuBois St. in San Rafael from D.R. Stephens, which acquired the six-building complex earlier this year. Tesla's service center will be in similar company in the complex, also home to a Ferrari and Maserati repair center, according to Haden Ongaro, who brokered the lease for the owner with fellow Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank agents Jeff Traynor and Mark Carrington.

Tesla had several job postings for the San Rafael facility on its website last week. However, a company  spokeswoman declined to provide details on that location, saying more information could be coming later in August.

As an all-electric vehicle, these vehicles don't need oil changes, emissions inspections, exhaust system adjustments or replacement spark plugs, belts, rings or pistons. Yet the company does recommend owners have what moving parts there are and the intricate electrical systems be checked at least every 12,000 miles. Tesla also offers mobile repair visits -- called Tesla Rangers -- for $100 plus $1 a mile for longer round-trip house calls.***

Novato-based fuel-cell electric plant developer G3 Power Systems (g3powersystems.com) launched like lightning in 2010 with significant projects but now is seeking U.S. Bankruptcy Court protection as it liquidates.

G3 garnered media attention in August 2010 with a plan to each week transform into electricity more than 1 million pounds of manure from about 600,000 chickens at Oliviera Egg Ranch near Stockton. Anaerobic bacteria in partner GHD's biodigester would turn the feces to fuel -- methane aka natural gas -- to supply a 1.4 megawatt FuelCell Energy molten carbonate fuel cell, which would make electricity as well as heat that would further help the digestion process.

Then federal and state incentive programs for renewable energy projects started to dramatically change, shift priorities and periodically exhaust available funds, according to Joe Wisniewski, in charge of G3's business development. In particular, the Californian Public Utilities Commission in September of last year significantly changed eligibility requirements for its Self-Generation Incentive Program, or SGIP, limiting funds to alternative energy projects that emit fewer greenhouse gases afterward. Combined with a 30 percent federal investment tax credit, up to half the project cost could be offset.

"With the change in the regulations, we had a backlog of two large power plants and another seven or eight power plants in the $15 million to $30 million range that could not be financed," Mr. Wisniewski said. "We were not able to get the project moving with changing government incentives." 

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