On Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that his company’s proprietary charging network would be opened up to other brands by 2022. It’s something Europe has been pressing the automaker on for years and a topic that’s become increasingly popular in the United States. Tesla announced it had completed over 25,000 charging points this year and most Western governments have committed themselves to advance electrification whether or not consumers or the industry feels ready.
But the charging infrastructure necessary to support the transition isn’t in place, leaving countries to craft grand infrastructure programs that cost taxpayers a literal fortune. Meanwhile, various energy concerns and automotive giants have attempted to build charging networks of their own under names like ChargePoint, Blink, or Electrify America. These public charging stations have helped support EVs that don’t wear the Tesla badge while establishing an entire subcategory of mobile apps designed specifically for finding them. But it hasn’t helped standardize charging, which some see as a major hurdle for EVs. Opening up Musk’s Superchargers might go a long way toward achieving something greater, albeit at some expense to his own clientele.
Tesla is inarguably the king of electric vehicles. Love or hate the brand, it’s the one that brought battery-driven vehicles into the mainstream and this was made possible due partially to the fact that it was building its own charging network.
“We created our own connector, as there was no standard back then & Tesla was only maker of long range electric cars. It’s one fairly slim connector for both low & high power charging,” Musk explained via Twitter. “That said, we’re making our Supercharger network open to other EVs later this year.”
After scouring the dregs of social media, Tesla owners seem to be annoyed that something that was originally seen as a perk (a charging network all to themselves) will now be handed out freely to lesser members of the EV community. There are worries that charging lines will become the norm at Tesla-branded stations. Some are also accusing it of breaking its promise of offering a lifetime of free charging to certain customers — an issue that has come up before. While we’re not sure how the latter issue plays into this, the former is undoubtedly something that could become a problem for Tesla owners that previously enjoyed the VIP treatment.
Tesla leaned into this too, often advertising its products of having the advantage of using their exclusive charging stations. Though it was often hinted at that this was a way to rope in customers when EV adoption was practically nonexistent. It’s also already possible for other EVs to use its network using adaptors (e.g. the J1772 connector), leaving only the slickest high-speed chargers for Tesla customers.
Musk did not specify which countries would be the first to see universally available charging. However, he did state that it would eventually be the status quo in all countries with the first examples taking place in 2021. Tesla has also been rumored to have been in discussing opening its Supercharger network with various European countries, making us think that’ll be the region that’s up to bat first.
We’re also feeling pretty secure in assuming this could set the company up for new government subsidies. It already makes a mint selling carbon credits to its rivals and announced $518 million in revenue from sales of regulatory credits in the first quarter of 2021. Sharing its network could result in new tax exceptions, regulatory crediting, and government grants.
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