Featured image: The Verge
Automakers that slowly produce electric cars have long lagged behind the leader in this field - Tesla. The company’s CEO Elon Musk, as a visionary person, thought in advance about how Tesla owners would charge their cars without expecting that any private company would come and solve these issue. The Tesla Supercharger Network was created for this purpose.
Bloomberg journalist Kyle Stock, faced with the problem of charging the car while traveling on the Jaguar I-Pace. Having planned his route in advance, he still faced the fact that most charging stations offer second-level sockets, which meant that he had to spend 4 hours on charging before his car could get enough charge to travel 100 miles. Stock rented an electric car, so he did not know that there are charging stations with charging levels 2 and 3, and that there is a big difference between them.
"Failing to note the difference between a level 2 charger and a harder-to-find level 3 charger is often the mistake of an electric vehicle rookie. Had I realized the distinction, I would never have considered a car such as the I-Pace (it was a loaner), or any of the dozens of Tesla rivals set to debut in coming years."
Stock writes that of the 64,000 vehicle-charging plugs in the U.S., only about one in five can juice a dry machine in less than an hour. A range of charging startups do promise thousands of new chargers, though timelines are hazy, and even the most ambitious plans will still skip much of the country. Thus the U.S., the world’s No. 2 auto market, is stuck in a microeconomic staring contest of sorts: Without chargers, rural drivers aren’t likely to go electric. And without enough buyers, automakers aren’t likely to ramp up production.
We can see a vicious circle: private companies do not want to set chargers, covering all areas in the country, because for now they will not be in high demand → people do not want to buy EVs, because the network of charging stations has insufficient coverage → car manufacturers referring to that people do not want electric cars, do not produce them → charging stations are not in high demand so that it would be profitable to place them in different parts of the country.
It turns out that any carmaker other than Tesla is betting that someone else, but not them, will provide their customers with convenient charging conditions for their cars. General Motors has said it’s focused on a “zero-emission” future, yet it’s neither building charging stations nor buying any.
Tesla's approach to this issue was initially different. The automaker initially decided to create its own Supercharger Network, realizing that the private sector will not have sufficient financial incentives to take capital-intensive risk in a new market, which is essentially created by one company.
Tesla made his charging club exclusive. The company's Supercharger sockets are patented and cannot be used by cars of other brands (however, there are adapters that allow Teslas to use other charging systems). The U.S. has slightly more Tesla charging points than all other fast charging networks combined.
Tesla is primarily interested in selling vehicles than electricity at charging stations, so its charging stations are scattered throughout the country in such a way as to satisfy the needs of their customers. Stock writes that there are 10 Tesla charging stations in Wyoming, but only 1 quick charge plug suitable for the Jaguar I-Pace. West Virginia has 8 Tesla stations and 2 fast charging spots for other electric vehicles.
Until the automakers begin to provide their customers with high-quality charging stations, the demand for their cars will not grow. At the same time, we see how the demand for Tesla cars continues to grow very quickly, because in addition to cars with unique technologies and characteristics, the company provides its customers with an exclusive branded network of charging stations.