6 min read

πŸ”“ Tesla opens up it's Supercharger Network – and why it matters

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As usual with Teslas so-called press releases, this one too comes from Elon Musk casually replying to a tweet:

The last sentence sent the Internet buzzing - we've been waiting for this.

Or... have we? I'll try to put myself in 7 different pair of shoes now to show you how it might +/- impact each of us, if automakers take up on the offer.

πŸ‘ž #1: Tesla Owner perspective

  • βž• More chargers. More demand from other EVs will push for more supply, which means more chargers. More chargers means more opportunities to charge for Tesla owners. In short: MOARRRRR is good.
  • βž– Longer lines at first. While scaling up fast after strong demand, which for sure takes time, there will likely be longer lines than usual. For all Seinfeld fans, this might resonate with you:

Possible solution: Tesla-exclusive chargers or favored booking for Tesla owners.

  • Β± Uptime increase. With larger utilization, the charging network needs to run on a high uptime. Before, it was a brand thing. Now it's also a $ thing.
  • βž• Price decrease? If you're an owner without free supercharging, the cost per kWh for Tesla owners exclusively might come down when the network becomes more of a standalone business.
  • βž– More blockers. With more different owners at the chargers, especially with short Tesla cables (see #3), there will be more charger-blocking incidents.

Conclusion: - to + Negative at first due to lines, but net positive in long term.

πŸ‘ž #2: Tesla as a Company perspective

(= also Investor perspective)

  • βž•$ Profit. With a existing built-out network and a new revenue source, the Supercharger network can operate as a standalone business unit, not just as a part of the Tesla ownership experience. $TSLA = πŸš€
  • βž•$ Subsidies. Growing the all-access network worldwide provides access to government subsidies globally. Helps to scale up.
  • βž•$ Cost decrease. With the scaling the network, the operating and manufacturing costs of the chargers decrease, so it's own base business model (Tesla charging) is cheaper to maintain.
  • βž• Better ownership experience. Tesla's own ownership experience will be boosted because of the wider-spread network (although might take a hit at first, see: longer lines).
  • βž• Fits the Energy Company agenda. Tesla wants to be an energy company and this helps the cause. Charging networks can use Tesla battery storage & Solar.
  • βž•$ from other EV makers? Not yet known, but Tesla will likely partner up solely with automakers, which in turn might need to invest into the expansion (share costs of development) of this network themselves.
  • βž– Collaborations always mean more hassle and bureaucracy.
  • βž– Tesla Ownership Experience decline is possible at first, if there's longer lines on chargers, outages etc when scaling up.

Conclusion: + Absolutely net positive with minor possible hiccups

πŸ‘ž #3: Other EV Owner perspective

  • βž• Premium service. A premium experience managed by one dedicated brand (not governments etc). If the 3rd party can reach the style of plug&charge like Tesla's own, that's magic.
  • βž• Aesthetics. Subject to opinion, the Tesla connectors look better and are better usable in the dark.
  • βž• More chargers = more freedom.
  • βž• Be one of the cool kids. You know, being a part of the Tesla Experience.
  • βž– Extra cost? Might need an adapter to work and a higher kWh price. If regular networks opt-in to help build Tesla's network instead of their own, owners might not have a choice but to use it even with higher cost.
  • βž– Extra hassle? Possible adapter needed if not in Europe.
  • βž– Short charging cable of the charger that fits Teslas perfectly might not suit all EVs. A lot of EVs will not be able to connect without blocking a second parking lot or even more if parked sideways. (Shoutout to Hubert for this one!)

Conclusion: + Net positive since adds extra options.

πŸ‘ž #4: EV Maker perspective

  • βž– New Tesla-to-X adapters development cost? In Europe, the Superchargers are already built on the widespread CCS standard, but in US the chargers are using Tesla's own connector. This means automakers are left to make sure their cars are compatible to use the network. Also, developments needed software-wise probably, payments connected to VIN of the car etc.
  • βž• Value add for customers, adding benefits to a good ownership experience of given EVs.
  • βž– Possible customer churn. Do you really want to put your customers in between Teslas often? They might turn...
  • βž– Feeding the monster. Collaborations are common in the auto industry, but do you really want to feed the one that might make your own business model obsolete if you can't keep up?

Conclusion: Β± kinda both, since it's good for customers but might be net negative for business.

πŸ‘ž #5: Non-EV Maker perspective

  • Nothing, because these are dead man shoes anyway.

πŸ‘ž #6: Charging Network perspective

Charging networks now: "We're Frunked now, aren't we?"

Naah, no reason to think that. No end of any charging networks is near, but this move from Tesla might change the game a bit, if enough automakers join the quest. And that is a rather large IF, as we all know most automakers have been pretty reluctant to acknowledge Tesla's existence as a automotive player so far.

  • βž– Less deals for networks? For example, so far,a lot of new EV models have come with deals with Electrify America ranging from 250kWh free to 3-years-free charging on its network.

    These are made on the automaker <> network level and might be history if Tesla becomes the "new hot partner" for automakers.

    I listed most of the EA offers on our issue here, including VW, Hyundai, Ford, Lucid, etc. Will we see similar deals with Tesla Network in the future
  • βž– Competition. Before, Tesla's network didn't bother much, because it was Tesla-specific. Teslas were just a harder-to-reach user segment. Now, Tesla's charging network might partly come after customers of their own.
  • βž• I was trying hard to find any positive sides but couldn't. Any ideas what am I missing?

Conclusion: - negative, if this comes to life (except for the novel idea of helping EVs succeed, but let's keep it business-wise).

πŸ‘ž #7: Overall EV industry perspective

It fits the mission of accelerating the transition to sustainable transport, no matter how well it turns out. More chargers means more chargers.

I'm looking forward to discuss this topic with you. I'm definitely wrong about some of it. Hit me up on replies or share your thoughts on this Twitter thread:

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