Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is the cutting edge right now. The company’s efforts to make the electric car cool have worked out exceptionally well in 2013, and the company is continuing to drive efforts for wide adoption of electric vehicles. There’s a lot of buzz about the Tesla Model S, but that may not be the most significant thing about the company.

Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), the company it is most often compared to, is building an ecosystem. That’s the power that will see it be more successful in the long term. It’s not about the Model S, it’s about how useful the Model S is. The company’s supercharger stations are a key driver of long-term growth.

Tesla ecosystem

Earlier today, Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) announced that it had charged more than 3.2 million miles at super charger stations. The company’s ability to build the stations quickly and efficiently is admirable, but the service the stations provide is even more so.

That 2.3 million miles will allow Tesla Model S owners to charge their battery to half full in about twenty minutes. The batteries can be swapped out for new ones, at a small charge, almost instantly at the super charging stations. People keep buying the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone because all of their apps are on the App Store and their music is on iTunes.

Tesla users will not be able to pick up another electric car after they use the supercharger network. They almost certainly won’t be able to go back to a gas guzzler when they see the savings. In today’s tweet, Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) said that the super charger network has saved 130,500 gallons of gas.

Tesla ecosystem growth

When a customer buys a Tesla, they’re not just buying a car, they’re buying a full automotive service. That includes the supercharger network. That network serves to make Tesla cars comparable to gasoline models, and better than other electric cars by far.

This is what really differentiates Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) from competitors. This is what will keep the company’s brand identity strong in the coming years, when it needs to develop construction capacity. By the time the company releases its third generation mass market electric vehicle, most of America will have seen a super charger station and watched a Tesla drive by.

The Tesla ecosystem will be the deciding factor in the company’s growth. That’s why stock can value the company at $22 billion despite years of losses.