- Tesla announced Thursday plans to open up part of its Supercharger network to Ford.
- Tesla has the largest roadside quick charger network in North America.
- Some Tesla owners say they would consider buying another brand of EV if supercharging is available.
Tesla plans to open up some of its exclusive supercharger network to Ford owners, which could undermine Tesla’s huge dominance in the EV race.
The partnership, announced Thursday, will give Ford EV owners access to nearly 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across North America starting in the spring of 2024.
Wedbush technology analyst Dan Ives told Insider that this was a “natural move” for Ford, adding that “Tesla holds most of the cards in its Supercharger network.”
Over a decade, Tesla has built more than 20,000 Superchargers in North America, creating the region’s largest roadside fast charger network. Additionally, Superchargers are widely perceived to be more reliable and easier to use than chargers from other networks.Non-Tesla EV owners Relying on a Patchwork of More Precarious Public Chargerscan be hard to find and can suffer from reliability issues.
Most EV owners charge at home, but the lack of public chargers has historically been a hurdle to wider EV adoption as drivers struggle with a variety of chargers. . range anxiety. From a road trip where a Kia EV owner had to stop 12 times to charge at a slow public charger, to a Mustang Mach E driver who had to stop at four different charging stations. Over the years, non-Tesla owners have shared their frightening experiences. , desperately looking for something that works.
What’s more, when you ask Tesla owners why they chose the automaker, it often comes down to the company’s charging network. Several Tesla owners have told insiders that they would only consider buying an EV from another automaker if they had access to Tesla’s network or an equally reliable network.
“I couldn’t imagine working for another car company and relying on a third-party charger,” Jonathan Burlke, a Model 3 owner in Kentucky who drives more than 250 miles a day for work, told Insider. rice field. “It’s hard to have range anxiety when you have access to Tesla’s network, but if I was in another brand of car, I definitely would have some concerns.”
The move may make some Tesla owners sick of having to share their beloved chargers with outsiders. Garrett Nelson, vice president and senior equity analyst at research firm CFRA, expects “discontent” from “some Tesla owners over increased traffic at Tesla charging stations.”
Musk isn’t opposed to turning stadiums into nighttime. Tesla’s CEO said on Thursday that the move would ensure Ford and Tesla are on “equal footing.”
“We don’t want the Tesla Supercharger network to become a walled garden,” Musk said. “We want it to support electrification and sustainable transport in general.”
Before Thursday’s announcement, Tesla had already opened up some chargers to non-Tesla owners in parts of Europe and the United States. Current Ford electric vehicles require special adapters to connect to Tesla charging ports, but Ford’s next-generation EVs will be equipped with Tesla-style ports. (Most electric models use one style of port, his called Combined Charging Standard. Tesla uses another.)
So what does Tesla have?
While there is some risk that weakening the exclusivity of the Supercharger network could turn potential customers toward non-Tesla alternatives such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV, the charging deal is a valuable recurring asset for Tesla. It also provides a revenue stream, said Mike Austin. A senior research analyst at Guidehouse Insights, which specializes in EVs, told Insider.
“It’s a much simpler business model than making cars,” he says. “It gives us a regular income, so we don’t have to deal with recalls, stocking up on tools, setting up factories, etc.”
Musk has suggested in the past that he wasn’t concerned about Tesla’s market share. Last month, the billionaire said at Tesla’s annual meeting that self-driving technology could allow automakers to sell their products at “zero profit” and still dominate the market.