SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 15 (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) will open part of its US charging network to electric vehicles (EVs) made by rivals as part of a $7.5 billion federal program to increase the use of EVs expand and reduce carbon emissions.
The move could help make Tesla the universal “gas station” of the EV era — and risk eroding a competitive advantage for vehicles from the company, which has exclusive access to the largest network of high-speed Superchargers in the world. United States.
By the end of 2024, Tesla would open 3,500 new and existing Superchargers along highway corridors to non-Tesla customers, the Biden administration said. It would also offer 4,000 slower chargers in locations such as hotels and restaurants.
Biden wrote on Twitter that the plan to open up a “huge portion” of Tesla’s network to all drivers was a “big deal” and would “make a big difference.”
In response, Tesla Chief Executive Musk said, “Thank you, Tesla is happy to support other EVs through our Supercharger network.”
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A White House official said at a briefing that Tesla would be eligible for a grant — including retrofitting its existing fleet — as long as the chargers allow other vehicles with a federally-supported charging standard called CCS to charge. to charge.
The administration said Tesla had not committed to adopting CCS as standard, but it must meet requirements to qualify for federal funds.
Tesla has 17,711 Superchargers, accounting for about 60% of the total US fast chargers, which can add hundreds of miles of driving range in an hour or less. There are also nearly 10,000 “destination” chargers with Tesla plugs that can charge a vehicle overnight.
Opening access to Tesla’s network would be a quick win for an ambitious federal program to build 500,000 EV chargers by 2030, up from 130,000 today.
“Certain Tesla Superchargers in the US will soon be open to all EVs,” Tesla wrote on Twitter, without elaborating on when, where and how it would open its chargers. It already planned to more than double its U.S. Supercharger network by the end of 2024, it said.
CONNECT AND PAY
Companies hoping to take advantage of federal funding for this network must also use standardized payment options that require a single identification method that works for all chargers, the administration said.
All EV drivers would be able to access these stations using the Tesla app or website, it said.
Adding non-Tesla owners may require a different plug and payment method.
“Tesla has a hardware and a software solution” to enable CCS, the White House official said.
Investors and US EV enthusiasts have been waiting for action against chargers from Musk, who said in 2021 that the goal of his charging network was “not to create a walled garden and use it to beat our competitors.” The company has opened some Superchargers in Europe and Australia to non-Tesla owners since 2021.
Analysts said the amount of federal funds at stake meant Musk either had to follow through on the plan or risk other charging companies, such as EVgo Inc (EVGO.O) and ChargePoint Holdings Inc (CHPT.N), would conquer the market.
“The amount of money involved in the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program is a strong incentive for Tesla to adjust its strategy to include the installation of CCS ports,” said Sam Houston, senior vehicle analyst at the Union of Concerned. Scientists.
Chris Harto, a senior policy analyst at Consumer Reports, said, “There’s no doubt that the $7.5 billion of investment in federal taxes threatens Tesla’s competitive advantage. That’s really the whole point of the program.”
Opening up its networks could increase funding and revenue for Tesla, but could also erode the brand’s exclusivity and make it challenging for the automaker to manage the network, analysts said.
“Chances are that if they open up the Supercharger network to other vehicles, their current excellent reliability will significantly decrease,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst with Guidehouse Insights.
Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia; Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Edited by Matthew Lewis and Bradley Perrett
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