Tesla’s Charge in the Spotlight: Even a Plugged-In Car Can Still Make Front-Page Headlines


After charging their Model Y on an available electrical port in Ekalaka, Montana, a California-based Tesla motorist found themselves in the spotlight. The episode garnered headlines in the community newspaper in the EV-challenged village with a population of about 400, with the car being referred to as a UEV (Unidentified Electric Vehicle). In need of a charge, the driver hooked into an RV-standard NEMA 14-50 connection. With the headline “Borrowed Volts,” the Ekalaka Eagle featured the incident as a potential first for an electric car in the community.

The driver told the Montana Free Press that they plugged in instead of going with their original backup plan—looking for a 120-volt plug—which would have taken days to charge the car—because the port was open. For a quicker charge, the NEMA 14-50 port proved more appropriate. When they went back for a second round of charging, they discovered the plug was removed, and a local told them that their story had made the top page of the paper.

While the local energy cooperative’s manager is considering installing EV chargers in the upcoming decade, the absence of state funding for backroads leading to the town continues to be a problem. While the Tesla driver may have made an unintended splash in Ekalaka, the attention also helped to highlight the lack of charging alternatives in such locales. The incident highlights the rising need for EV infrastructure in rural areas.

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