With modern, mass-market electric cars on sale for three and a half years now, you might think that the path for growth has been pretty much laid out by now.
But the great disruptor, Silicon Valley electric-car startup Tesla Motors, may be changing the playbook once again.
2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector
According to a report in the U.K.'s Financial Times, there's now a third party interested in joining the discussions on charging standards already held between Tesla and BMW: Nissan, which has built and sold more electric cars than any other company in history.
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Which means that the first and third highest-volume plug-in electric car companies in the world (Nissan and Tesla, respectively) could soon be talking--along with BMW, which is by far the most serious of the three luxury German brands about battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
The report was attributed to "sources at the three companies" and one quotation was said to be from " one executive, who declined to be named as the plans are not yet official."
Tesla CEO Elon Musk mentioned casually last week that he'd just had a meeting with BMW, following the announcement that Tesla would (under certain circumstances) offer access to its patents to other automakers (on the apparent assumption that they would do the same for Tesla).
MORE: Musk: Tesla Going Open Source, Lifting Patents 'In Good Faith'
2014 BMW i3 electric cars waiting at East Coast shipping port for distribution, May 2014
With BMW's new, technically-advanced i3 battery-electric car now on the market, the very first few vehicles to use the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) plug, socket, and software protocols for DC fast-charging are now hitting the streets.
But there are far fewer charging locations for that standard than there are for the Tesla Supercharging system (more than 100 globally) and the several-year-old CHAdeMO standard (more than 1,000 globally) used primarily by Nissan.
While all the U.S. and European makers have combined behind the CCS standard, it remains highly unclear what entities will fund the installation of CCS fast-charging stations in the absence of government subsidies.
2012 Tesla Model S
Tesla, meanwhile, offers access to its Supercharger network free to all its Model S owners who have Supercharging capability built into their cars (free on most models, a $2,000 option on low-end cars).
ALSO SEE: 2014 BMW i3 Electric Car Rated At 81 Miles, 124 MPGe (Most Efficient Electric Car On Sale This Year)
Could BMW and, more importantly, Nissan see the Tesla standard as a quicker way to provide truly high-speed recharging for their customers--and a fast-expanding network already in place as well?
If so, where would that leave General Motors, Ford, Daimler, and VW Group, the other makers solidly behind the CCS standard?Watch for more to come soon on a story that, if true, could quickly reorder the prospects for global fast-charging standards for drivers of plug-in electric cars.