U.S. Charger Network Game

Let me give credit to The Electric Viking for inspiring this post. He is right about a lot of things but I think he left out a huge point.

First, a given. The Tesla Supercharger network has proven to be the most reliable EV charging network. I have seen numbers in the high 90% range as far as encountering a working Tesla charger. Numbers for other networks are far lower — even as low as 50%. Thus, people who want to fast charge their EV tend to be much happier if they can use a Tesla supercharger.

One thing Biden’s IRA is doing is offering federal funds for expanding EV charging locations. As Tesla designed and makes their own chargers then tend to cost significantly less than other networks. The result is that Tesla is winning lots of bits to build charging locations. With lower costs and better reliability that sounds like a win for the consumer as well as for Tesla. I have no issue there.

But, one thing that Sam didn’t talk about is the other way Tesla is winning. Unlike most EV chargers, Tesla’s infrastructure goes further. Typically Tesla sites include a MegaPack — a battery. Tesla buys electricity to charge it when rates are low giving them another way they profit more than other charger companies from your use of their sites. Also, they typically make the roof over the charger stalls out of solar panels further reducing their cost for the electricity they are selling you.

I don’t think this was Joe Biden’s plan — that is, to further subsidize Tesla — but clearly his IRA is doing that. While Tesla may not always be the biggest EV manufacturer, it could become the EV equivalent of Exxon Mobile.

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