Tesla Outplay Rivals in Charging Its Electric Fleet, Deal With It!

Tesla’s network of Superchargers enables drivers to recharge their cars in as little as an hour reducing range anxiety -which has been identified as one of the main hurdles regarding EVs adoption – and improving the experience of owning a Tesla.

Superchargers provide DC fast charging which is essential for high mileage/long distance driving and large fleets, whereas Tesla’s Destination charging network provides longer charging times more suited for long stays at malls or overnights at hotels.

How Does Tesla’s Network Of Chargers Compare With Rivals?

Tesla’s growing charging network is viewed as a competitive advantage for the company, as it enables the company to coordinate the installed base of vehicles and the network of charging stations. Tesla can choose how to price, whether to make charging free and monetize only the car, the number of charging stations and their locations, etc.

While other automakers are still focused narrowly on perfecting their electric cars, relying, at the same time, on a burgeoning network of chargers installed by the government, utilities and private companies; Tesla has been utilizing its own proprietary charging network, with the aim of solving consumers’ core driving needs.

In this direction, Tesla not only continues to strive to provide the range that is sufficient for as many trips as possible without interruption, but it also understands that a robust fast-charging network that covers popular travel routes is critical for those trips that exceed its vehicles’ range.

The company has spent many years building its Supercharger network across North America, Europe, China and APAC, which doubled in size between 2017 and 2020 and continues to expand today. Among the top carmakers, Tesla has by far the largest share in DC-fast charging infrastructure; whereas its cumulative charging network (i.e. SuperChargers + Tesla Destination) is one of the most populous in the world along with those of Chinese automakers SAIC and BYD.

The US Fast-Charging Landscape

Fast charging facilities for electric vehicles are in their infancy, with only about 5,000 available in the United States. Moreover, the network of available charging stations is highly fractured across ownership and technology. Fast-charging outlets continue to represent a minus share in the US charging network; a fact that holds true for the majority of the charging ports operators in the US, except for selected CPOs, such as Tesla, Electrify America and EVgo.

At the moment, there aren’t enough reliable charging stations to accommodate a sudden increase in EV usage. EV sales in the US have been record-breaking so far in 2021, and demand is expected to increase especially as carmakers phase out gas-powered and ICE vehicles.

Furthermore, if EVs are to replace ICE vehicles, they need to be able to make long highway trips, which means that DC fast charging is essential for high mileage/long-distance driving and large fleets.

Tesla dominates US fast charging network

Tesla is still ahead of its rivals when it comes to fast charging – with over 11,000 supercharger outlets in North America. In comparison, ChargePoint, US largest independent EV charging network, has about 1,500 DC fast charging points; while VW’s Electrify America network has about 2,800 points.

Among the US Top-5 charging point operators, Tesla SuperCharger and Electrify America charging networks are predominately, if not completely, made up of DC-fast chargers. Tesla Supercharger has the largest share of public DC-fast electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), followed by Electrify America.

Tesla has built more than 6,700 SuperChargers in China

At present, Tesla has built more than 6,700+ SuperChargers in mainland China, with an additional 700+ destination charging stations and 1,700+ destination charging outlets, covering more than 320 Chinese cities. Tesla users can find “recharging bases” in most tourist attractions, popular self-driving routes, highways, hotels, tourist areas and other places.

In addition, Tesla has started production on its V3 superchargers at its Shanghai factory; the new factory is reportedly going to be able to produce up to 10,000 Superchargers per year.

“California is on track to surpass its goal of 1.5 million ZEVs on state roadways by 2025 but is behind in providing the charging infrastructure needed to support the growing NEV population. Charging infrastructure deployment is lagging vehicle sales, and this gap may stymie progress toward 5 million and 8 million ZEVs by 2030”

Tesla express willingness to allow other car models to use its network provided they contribute funding proportional to usage

As the competition around charging networks is growing, Tesla express willingness to open its charging network; in July ’21, Musk tweeted that the company plans to do this “later this year”.

Most of its competitors are facing problems either with the development of their charging networks or with their third parties EV chargers that currently are having trouble turning a profit; recently Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess roasted Ionity for his poor experience with its charging network.

Unlocking the Supercharger network to owners of other EVs could more immediately help alleviate the twin headaches of finding available (and working) charging ports and time spent charging. Furthermore, Tesla can benefit from an additional source of revenue; gain access to more government subsidies (President Biden has said he wants to build 500,000 charging stations as part of a $15 billion public investment), and benefit from a powerful marketing tool that in the long run will increase the source of its potential customers.

Monetize gains from an open and reliable charging platform may offer a critical advantage in the next stage of motor vehicle competition: the deployment of automated driving technologies

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