Build by committee…those are always successful. Glad I am not a project manager on that mess.
Last gasp at trying to control the charging infrastructure. Bit late?
Too early to tell. If they build a charging infrastructure, then they can document to new EV buyers the ability to recharge with few problems. If they can get some federal funding to help, that helps them–as a group.
They spend a pile of money, so that, in some years, they have what Tesla has now? In the back of my mind is the automakers have plans to monitize their investment in the charging network, rather than piggyback on Tesla’s, like Ford is. And, if they monitize the chargers (meaning gouge the daylights out of their customers), what will their customers think of it? Probably about the same reaction as BMW got when it tried to demand a monthly subscription fee to enable the seat heaters that the customers already paid for.
A decade ago, when Tesla started building SuperChargers, it was a necessity for Tesla to sell their cars. A year or so ago I looked into investing in the charger industry but soon realized it was not a good investment and quickly bailed out. If it’s not a good investment why should it be a good business for providers? If it’s not the business itself it must be something else. Maybe getting some of the free money the government is handing out?
Why all the fuss about an ‘infrastructure’ for charging?
Electricity is electricity, like gasoline is gasoline.
There’s a hole in your car that you pump gas into the storage vessel or there’s a receptacle on your car you plug into to fill your battery.
Gasoline companies differentiate themselves by promoting certain additives etc. and independent stations buy their gas from any bulk supplier.
Why can’t charging stations work like that?
It’s an artificial difference that sooner or later will result in a universal receptacle on all vehicles.
Or maybe multiple connectors at the charging station similar to multiple grades of gasoline at a single pump.
Why would you buy a vehicle that had a unique connector?
Turn that around: why would a “JC” want to sell something unique? So he can gouge his customers, because there is no alternate source. The auto industry, in general, these days, is all about gouging customers: not offering any alternative to their largest, most expensive, models, opposing “right to repair” laws to they can gouge customers on parts and service, and, their latest scheme, demand “subscription fees” to use common vehicle features.
Not really relevant in this case since the proposed new charger network will be compatible with both CCS and Tesla’s NACS connectors.
I think the OEMs just realized that having nearly all North American charging sites branded “Tesla” would give that company an insurmountable marketing advantage in EV sales. Tesla at any time could reduce charging fees for their cars. The OEMs really had no choice but to provide an alternative network. The question is how they will treat Toyota, which has yet to join a charging network.
The unsaid impact is that for oil companies, the drum beat of “stranded assets” grows ever louder.
This. Coupled with the frequent complaints of non-Tesla charging stations being out of service, defaced, or otherwise, it would make a lot of sense for “other” companies to band together to provide a required piece of infrastructure, especially if there are tax advantages to it.
Auto companies were very big on lobbying government to provide paved roads at the onset of the industry; to that point the distances between cities were either dirt paths or railroads. In the same way, they have (belatedly) realized that convenient and operational charging stations are crucial to selling the new breed of cars, which they are all (also belatedly) running around trying to market.
One hopes this will be a truly independent effort, using only the funding from the majors, who may or may not view this as a stand-alone investment to be cashed in at some future date. If it is run for the benefit of one or two then it will likely fail. But it’s also a recognition that Tesla alone cannot provide enough, nor should they allow that to happen, and so this is the result. It’s a big step forward, in my view.
There are roughly 15,000 charging stations in the US. By contrast, there are over 150,000 gas stations. While we many not need 3 charging stations on opposing corners as is common, we certainly need charging stations more convenient than “just 10 minutes out of your way”. This is one way to get there.
I think it is excellent that an additional charging network is forming. Universally, having more than one provider of any good or service is better for consumers over the long-term. This especially applies to low margin items such as gasoline, electric charging, and groceries. Competition spurs a low margin product/service provider to become as efficient as possible. When you’re earning a 50% gross margin, cutting your expenses by 1% isn’t such a big deal because you might go (roughly) from 50% to 51% GM which is hardly noticeable to your investors, and usually not worth the trouble. But if you’re earning 6% gross margins (like a good supermarket chain or a gasoline station), then if you cut expenses by 1%, your GM goes (roughly) to 7%, that is a HUGE accomplishment and the investors in that business will be quite pleased.
This is obviously not an apples to apples comparison. Because there are a lot more charging stations than that, it’s just that the vast majority of charging stations (well over a million of them) have one charger and are usually only used by one car.
To do an apples to apples comparison would require further study regarding driving habits. It’s been done, and people repeat that study periodically as habits change over time. Basically, you need to know how many EVs are regularly used without a private charger at their parking location, how often EVs are used for long trips, and a few other less important habits for accuracy.
In the end I think charging will be done quite differently than fueling with gasoline.diesel. For the most park, there will be chargers at private homes (it’ll probably become standard or semi-standard in new homes within a few years, certainly within a decade), there will be charging at workplaces, there will be charging at shopping and entertainment areas, AND there will be fast chargers (but not in a density* as high as gasoline stations today) along primary highway routes and in a few other places where cars congregate without sufficient alternative charging options.
* I say “density” here because the numbers of individual chargers may need to be large (because it takes a lot longer to charge than it does to fuel up), but the number of charging stations won’t need to be as large. So rather than 150,000 gasoline stations with an average of 4 pumps each, perhaps 50,000 charging stations with an average of 12 chargers each. Or something like that.
Well sure, but why wouldn’t there be alternate sources for fuel (electricity).
Car companies never were in the gasoline business, nor gasoline companies in the car business.
Tesla has changed that model a bit, but who cares what brand is on the charging station? Use an adaptor and use any station.
Why aren’t utilities and private business providing their own branded charging stations?
We’re in early days of EVs. It will settle out to electricity being provided by multiple providers. Once upon a time, people were loyal to particular gasoline companies (Shell, Exxon etc.) but no one cares about that anymore.
Gasoline is a commodity, so is electricity.
Not so much the utilities, but there are a couple of branded charging networks. They are … what’s the right word … krrrr@p. Unreliable. Slow. Overpriced. Small.
They are bad enough that they impede the sales of EVs.
Rather than go it alone - like some other automaker - they’re banding together to make a good charging network that will benefit them all.
It’s “charging stations” vs “gas stations”. It’s not “charging outlets” vs “gas pumps”. (There are 130,000 charging outlets - and over a million gas pumps, perhaps 2 million, but obviously most are grouped. That means a longer distance to get to them.
Within 5 minutes of my house I have 4 gas stations with (roughly) over 50 pumps. I have zero charging stations. Within 10 minutes multiply gas pumps by 5 or so, and do the same with charging stations (again, zero). Of course I might count “my house” as a charging station, in which case there are millions, but on the road - contractors, salespeople, travelers, etc. you need many more to overcome the convenience factor.
Again, we are in the early years of EV adoption. Those stations are slow, unreliable and small because there isn’t a huge market yet. The overpriced part is in the eye of the particular consumer.
Who knows what the price of electricity should be in a mature market?
Profits have to be made by the provider.
If the Tesla network and the consortium network are charging less, you can be sure it’s added into the price of their vehicles.
You don’t want a charging station en route to somewhere else though (with exception of major highways for road tripping). You want the charging stations where you will be for some period of time. Your work, grocery store, shopping mall, etc. Gasoline is bought on the way to your destination. This is why you have them at so many street corners, but not at your work or grocery store. The EV model is going to change this. Getting gas is always a diversion to getting somewhere else.
In principle they could but in Complex Systems there is ‘Path Dependence.’ Tesla created charging stations because they had to and now Tesla enjoys first mover advantage which it may or may not keep, it’s theirs to lose. Intel had first mover advantage in processors which it has lost.
August 19, 2011
The chip business was Intel’s to lose and they are slowly losing it, at least in mobile.
Marketing synergy. Pretty similar to selling gasoline, actually. By itself, selling gasoline is a terrible business with poor margins. But selling overpriced crap in the c-store is a great business with great margins. So you lure people with the low margin gas and make money on the high margin Ho-Hos.
The main barriers to EV adoption are range and charging time. An EV with comes with a robust national network of fast chargers is a much easier sell than one that doesn’t. The manufacturers don’t care about the low margin charging business. They want to boost the high margin vehicle business.
Charging stations might have even worse functional margins than gasoline, because unlike gasoline stations, electron sellers have to compete with home charging and amenity charging. Home charging is available at residential rates (and can be done off-peak), and charging at offices and some stores will be completely free. That creates serious downward pressure on pricing and volume. And EV’s already cost far, far less to fuel up than ICE vehicles.
Warning! Tesla fanboy post:
Musk stated that the Tesla charging stations aim for 30% gross margins and 10% profitability. In comparison, gas station margins are at about 1-2%. The Tesla figures are plausible because Tesla also does energy storage. With its battery packs, the charging stations can buy electricity when cheap and sell it at anytime. This will be further enhanced when the charging stations are paired with solar panels and storage. This combination will allow them to be off the grid much of the time with the potential for pretty high margins.
There will certainly be competitors, including the recent consortium of OEMs planning their own charging system (that will also be compatible with NACs and so benefits Tesla drivers). But is there any company better situated to combine charging, storage, and solar than Tesla, which currently is a leader in all three industries?
Electrify America, the VW effort to build US charging stations (also with future NACs compatibility), has long been buying Tesla batteries to help its financials. Electrify America has now deployed Tesla Powerpacks at over 140 charging stations | Electrek