One of the keys to Tesla’s continued growth and success over the years is that it understands how closely related a convenient, quick charging experience is for EV adoption.
Just last week Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company would be making the Supercharger network open to other EVs later this year—and on Monday, during the company’s quarterly financial call he provided a glimpse of how that will happen: by accelerating the growth of its charging network.
“We need to grow the network faster than we’re growing vehicle output,” said Musk, who noted that it will continue to focus on minimizing the wait time for the most customers.
“Increasing the utilization of the network actually reduces our costs, which allows us to lower charging prices for all customers, make the network more profitable...allows us to grow the network faster,” said SVP of powertrain and energy engineering Drew Baglino. “That’s a good thing there.”
Baglino said that no matter what Tesla will continue to expand the network capacity, increase charging speeds, and improve their trip-planning tools to protect against site congestion.
How will drivers of other EVs actually use the Supercharger network? Well, the Tesla app, of course. Musk explained that it’s thinking users will go to the app, plug the car in, and request that the stall be turned on.
But there are a couple of rather significant asterisks that still remain to be worked out. Firstly, they’ll need a plug adapter to use a Tesla connector with their CCS (or perhaps CHAdeMO) vehicle—which, Musk suggested, might be available at the station. Secondly, with the company just working to upgrade its fast-charging hardware to a 300-kw peak power, they’d better not charge too slowly with the adapter.
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“If the charge rate is super-slow then someone will be charged more,” he said. “We’ll also be smarter with how we charge for electricity at the Supercharger,” suggesting that pricing may be related to the times they’re empty versus jam-packed.
Ultimately having the other EVs charging at Supercharger stations will increase utilization, and that helps it grow faster, the executives explained.
That’s a strategy that’s arguably already in place with Electrify America offering a CHAdeMO connector at each of its mostly CCS stations, or with EVgo now offering Tesla connectors at some of its urban fast-charging stations.
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As we underscored last week, Tesla’s Supercharger network has far fewer locations than what EV drivers might find in looking for CHAdeMO or CCS connectors, although Tesla stations in the U.S. outnumber either of those other standards by total connectors.
“Our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy,” said Musk. “It is not to create a walled garden and abuse that to bludgeon our competitors—which is sometimes used by some companies.”