May 20, 2024

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Tesla has reduced its supercharger team.  What does this mean for America’s electric vehicle grid?

Tesla has reduced its supercharger team. What does this mean for America’s electric vehicle grid?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Tesla charging station in Petaluma, California.



CNN

News this week that Elon Musk The entire Tesla Supercharger team has been laid off It sent shockwaves of uncertainty through the industry charged with building America’s new network of electric vehicle chargers.

A fast, reliable charging network is key to getting more people to switch from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, and some early types of chargers have proven less reliable. Tesla has long had a superior charging network President Joe Biden has set an ambitious goal To install half a million stations across the United States by the end of the decade.

Until recently, Tesla played a central role in that plan. Many electric vehicle experts and drivers believe Tesla’s chargers are fast and reliable, so much so that other car companies are adapting their own charging plugs to fit Tesla’s system.

Tesla has won more federal contracts for charging stations than any other company — worth $28 million — which makes up about 14% of total awards, according to data from EVAdoption, a data consulting firm. But with Musk firing the entire Supercharger team as part of the company’s broader cost-cutting, it’s unclear whether Tesla will be able to complete the work, or whether contracts will eventually be awarded to other companies.

A spokesman for the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, which administers the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure, or NEVI, program, said 10 states have chosen Tesla as a charging provider for their projects. NEVI was unable to comment on whether Tesla would be able to fulfill contracts, as the charging programs themselves are run by individual states.

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“Because NEVI provides grants to states, which conduct competitive procurement processes to select vendors, we do not expect individual business decisions to impact electric vehicle charging projects funded under the bipartisan infrastructure law,” the spokesperson told CNN in an email. “We are focused on delivering a positive charging experience for every driver and leveling the playing field for American businesses.”

Others in the industry said a potential loss to Tesla would not be a huge blow.

“There are many, many charging companies,” an electric vehicle industry source told CNN. “It’s not like that money was going to Tesla or it wasn’t going anywhere. Who gets those bonuses will likely change.”

Musk’s decision to eliminate his company’s charging team was even more puzzling to industry insiders given the amount of federal money the company had received, and how long Tesla had been in the charging business.

“Charging is a tough business, there’s no doubt about that,” the electric vehicle industry source said. “The margins are very slim and it’s very tight. They were ahead in the game, so it seems strange to give that up a little bit.

Since it launched the network in 2012, Tesla has earned a reputation for having the most reliable chargers, but experts said the company’s chaos could prompt rivals to ramp up their offerings — democratizing U.S. charging infrastructure this year. the operation.

“Ultimately, this is probably a positive thing, because it’s not in the public interest for one company to be so dominant,” Daniel Sperling, founding director of the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, told CNN. “The good news is that it will stimulate all other shipping companies and [automakers] To double their investment in creating a reliable expanded charging system.

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The fact that there are so many players in the electric vehicle charging space may have been one of the things that prompted Musk to withdraw so significantly from the field, said Lauren MacDonald, an electric vehicle industry analyst.

“With NEVI funding to build charging deserts in upstate New York, the prairies of the Midwest, and the deserts of the Southwest — perhaps realizing that Tesla should focus on where the majority of electric vehicle sales occur and continue to grow,” McDonald EVAdoption CEO told CNN. In an email. “Tesla can slow down a little, be more strategic, and finally put some of the investment and responsibility on others.”