Today at Tesla Investor Day, the automaker showed off a fresh teaser of a high-tech eating experience at Supercharging stations that’s heavy on exterior lighting, and features a futuristic jet-age look. It’s called a diner. Yes, Tesla released a new rendering of its own branded diner built around a Supercharger station and we want to talk about it because it feels like a strange direction for an automaker to go in.
The Tesla diner isn’t an entirely new concept. Electrek previously reported that Elon Musk has previously mentioned a desire to build a Tesla diner in 2018, that Tesla applied for a permit to build a diner in Santa Monica, Calif. back in 2018, and that fan renderings of a Tesla diner have surfaced previously. However, this is a new official rendering of the diner concept that gives us a pretty good look at what Tesla is planning.
If pricey electric cars and bad diner food seems like an odd pairing to you, you aren’t the only one. Maybe this would be a different sort of diner that serves protein bowls, fiber-rich smoothies, and SaaS (Sandwiches as a Service), although I’m hoping it could serve up incredibly greasy plates. Everything in moderation including moderation, right? I’d naturally assume that a potential Tesla diner would run 24/7 like Waffle House, which would bring an entirely new option for late nights out. Imagine plugging your car in, walking into a Tesla diner, only to be surrounded by stoned college students.
Mind you, the idea of having a place to eat while charging an electric car isn’t anything new. Taco Bell has talked about DC fast charging at its franchises, and Starbucks plans to run a DC fast charging pilot network with Volvo. Hell, Subway is planning what it calls an EV Charging Oasis with a park, a playground, and the option to Eat Fresh. I probably wouldn’t be building playgrounds if my company had the same previous spokesperson as Subway, but that’s just me.
Restaurants with charging stations on-site sound like a great idea, but building a restaurant chain is so much harder than building a charging network. To start, charging stations don’t need to be staffed, but restaurants absolutely do. In addition, there’s a whole restaurant supply chain to set up from raw ingredients to packaging to waste management. Once charging stations are in, they just require maintenance. Oh, and there’s the whole constructing buildings thing to worry about with restaurants. It’s no wonder what many restaurants simply don’t survive in the long run.
The smart way for Tesla to do something like this would be to link up with an existing restaurant chain. Sonic would be a damn near perfect partner as Tesla could install infrastructure right next to menu boards. Roll up, plug in, grab a highly unusual milkshake if it’s summer, suck on a chili dog like one of the protagonists in that John Cougar song, and be back on the road in 20 minutes after doing unspeakable things to a glizzy. If you find that mental image awful, a hamburger is also an option.
There’s no firm time frame for a Tesla diner nor explicit word that it’s happening, but it appears to be a possibility in Tesla’s future. We might just never hear about it again, which might be for the best. It’s the sort of zany side-quest that seems high-risk and low-reward. Anyway, what do you reckon would be on the menu at a Tesla diner?
(Photo credits: Tesla, Subway, Sonic Drive-In)
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As a fan of diners I really like this, maybe not as directly a Tesla thing, but people can typically spend 30-60 minutes at a diner, maybe even longer if it’s brunch and with friends, and that’s plenty of time for a decent charge. Ideally the parking would be covered too, maybe a better parking layout.
The Sonic option ‘seems’ like a good idea but not sure they’d want people sitting for a charge that are done eating, their whole thing is on a fast experience, it’s kind of in the name.
If they add it to existing Tesla dealers and make it more of a ‘food court’ kind of spot instead of a full on diner it may not need as much infrastructure/staffing. As mentioned a lot of dealers have some restaurants in them, I think already having the building lease and utilities all taken care of helps with the risk.
Drive in theaters would be a really good spot for a bunch of level 2 chargers, even more so if it’s a double feature, 5 hours of level 2 charging is a good boost.
I honestly believe it’s a good idea. I also believe it would look perfectly natural with a MEL’S sign on it. The more things change…..
Q: why does the proposed restaurant lack exhaust fans in the bathrooms?
A: so Tesla owners can smell their own fart.
Maybe Tesla stans can get their neuro implant recharged while they dine.
I know of a Ford dealer that when they built their new facility, incorporated a restaurant as part of it. When it first opened, all the food was named for Ford models. No matter how mundane. You could get like, a “Tempo bacon egg and cheese” breakfast wrap. (If you wanted it as a biscuit that was a Freestyle.) Or a Taurus philly cheesesteak.
Since then either it became managed by another local restaurant or they just went more normal with the names.