Investor's Corner

No universal charging standards, Tesla wins

After writing about industrial networking and device standardization in the manufacturing automation space for ten years, I feel quite confident in saying any universal agreement on charging standards are far, far away.

Why, you say? In the manufacturing world, devices and systems need to communicate control signals via fieldbus and ethernet networks in order to monitor many types of applications. Multiple networks standards have been present for twenty plus years, with big automation suppliers — Siemens and Honeywell— in different networking camps, and there’s no universal agreement on one single network.

Sound familiar? CHAdeMO, Tesla Supercharger network and, of course, SAE Combo – these connecting standard are all driven by separate groups of companies. Some companies, such as GM, have no interest in building out a charging network, while German car companies now know the need for a charging platform to sustain a long game strategy.

With so many late entrants into the electric car market, the clear winner for these so-called charging wars is Tesla — not a believer that there is.

Why? The company’s superior Supercharging rates and deployment strategy, including destination charging, will pay dividends for years. For example, a recent Kickstarter campaign started by Quick Charge Power LLC is trying to develop an adapter that allows any battery electric vehicle from North American or Japan to use Tesla’s HPWC. According to the page, the adapter “will only work with Tesla AC charging equipment: the UMC mobile connector or the HPWC (wall connector) and destination chargers”.

With many destination charging spot on the map, a

With so many destination charging spots, a JDapter could make Bolts and next-gen Leafs a reality for High-Power Wall Chargers.

The company calls it the JDapter, and the big get could be Tesla’s Destination Charging system. In two years from now, a Bolt may have a reservation for a charge session at a hotel ahead of a Tesla owner.

A recent Facebook discussion raised this issue:

“The sites — destination charging — where Tesla installed the HPWCs are the ones who pay for the power; it seems reasonable that they should decide who should charge there. Tesla is even willing to include a J1772 charger with every pair of HPWCs and pay for that installation too.”

Quick Charge Power states that each establishment can create its own policy and has the right to exclude non-Tesla automobiles. And, of course, the adapters can’t work on the Supercharger network.

As enthusiasts and owners, how do we view this development? I feel it’s a win-win for the Tesla brand and to Musk’s ultimate goal of mass electrification.

Tesla is supremely positioned as the most coveted technology and charging platform out there. This is a Silicon Valley company and Musk knows the importance of being THE electric vehicle platform…think Google. As mainstream consumers become aware of Tesla’s direct relationship with its Superchargers, a Bolt and Model 3 charging line issue at a hotel should be minimal. Most will choose Tesla for their first foray into electric cars, purely on a charging criteria.

Plus, non-Tesla charge stations plans are in the works. Recently, Volkswagen, BMW and ChargePoint announced plans to expand DC, fast-charging networks on the coasts.

Also, the Volkswagen diesel rigging scandal is costing them greatly. A portion of the $15 billion settlement goes to promote zero-emission vehicles. The settlement payout, back in the summer, was to be $2 billion and it could go hydrogen filling stations and electric-car charging stations in states like California.

This is good news for Tesla as more stations appear as a result of the company’s adapters. Earlier this year, Tesla applied for a new patent on a CHadeMO and SAE J1772 adapter earlier this year. In the near future, a Tesla owner could be traveling anywhere, not just on the Supercharger network.

The standardization movement is noble but will be bloody for years. Musk and Tesla knew this when it struck out on its electrification strategy and, for now, all roads lead back to Tesla.

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