Tesla Inc., renowned for its groundbreaking electric vehicles (EVs), surprised the industry by opening its charging infrastructure to competitors at no cost.
The decision sparked curiosity about CEO Elon Musk’s motivations and Tesla’s longer-term goals for charging stations. The decision is perhaps not pure altruism but instead, a play for Tesla to pull valuable data from other manufacturers’ cars.
Tesla’s Supercharger network stands as a testament to the company’s dedication to creating a comprehensive and reliable charging infrastructure for EVs. With more than 45,000 charging stations worldwide, Tesla owners can fuel their journeys with convenient and rapid charging capabilities. By extending access to this infrastructure to competitors, Tesla not only encourages the adoption of EVs but also strives to establish a standardized and cohesive charging ecosystem that should benefit all EV drivers who want to travel without range anxiety.
The Power Of Data: Driving Tesla’s Advantage
Beyond providing charging services, Tesla’s charging network acts as an invaluable source of data. Each time a vehicle charges at a Supercharger station, Tesla gathers critical information pertaining to charging patterns, user behavior and energy consumption. By offering competitors access to its infrastructure, Tesla effectively expands its pool of data, enhancing its ability to refine charging technology, optimize network efficiency and enhance the overall user experience.
The current Tesla charging cable features three larger holes to move electricity to the batteries and two smaller data port holes. Tesla uses cellular and Wi-Fi connections to “talk” to its cars and pull data, but the charging ports provide it with even more information. By allowing Ford Motor Co. and General Motors to use the chargers, Tesla will likely take valuable data from those companies’ vehicles.
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When someone puts gas into their 2007 Toyota Camry, the only information they share is with the credit card terminal. The gas pump does not relay usage data and other information. Electric charging is different, as the battery-management system in an EV needs to relay some information to the charging source. Tesla’s latest charging infrastructure transmits a trove of information, including a mix of technical data about the needed amount of charging and demographic information from the owner’s payment. If Tesla’s system can access a competitor’s battery management system it can learn about broader charging patterns and needs. It could then sell this data to utility companies and also use it to optimize charging station locations, which could provide more profit than selling cars.
Fostering Standardization: A Path To Progress
The electric vehicle market is still in its nascent stages, and a significant obstacle hindering its growth is the absence of standardized charging infrastructure. By establishing a shared platform, Tesla encourages other automakers to produce electric vehicles that are compatible with the Supercharger network. This cooperative approach promotes interoperability, simplifies the charging experience for consumers and showcases the importance of collaboration to promote the adoption of electric vehicles. The company also will likely benefit greatly from charging data, reflecting Tesla’s status as more of a data company than a car company.
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This article Beyond Altruism: Uncovering Tesla’s Motives For Opening Charging Infrastructure To Competitive EV Companies originally appeared on Benzinga.com
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