Earlier this week, the Biden-Harris Administration unveiled its most recent plans designed to establish reliable, user-friendly electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, with the ultimate goal of electrifying the iconic American road trip.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, proposed by President Biden, includes significant investments of $7.5 billion towards EV charging infrastructure, $10 billion towards clean transportation, and over $7 billion towards EV battery components, critical minerals, and materials. These flagship initiatives complement the Inflation Reduction Act's pivotal backing for advanced batteries and newly enhanced tax credits that encourage the purchase of EVs and the further buildout charging infrastructure. Additionally, dozens of other federal initiatives have been created to promote domestic manufacturing and construct a nationwide network of EV charging.
Growing the network of electric vehicle chargers along American highways and in local communities is a necessary step to meet the goal of having EVs make up 50% of all new car sales by 2030. Additionally, this proposal by the Administration will advance a strategy for further development of the domestic electric vehicle and EV charging industries, while simultaneously creating well-paying employment opportunities in manufacturing and installation, all of which contribute to the United States achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 with limited reliance on foreign entities.
After meeting with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last month, the Administration announced that they have reached an agreement with the company to make a portion of it's Supercharger Network available to non-Tesla vehicles in exchange for a cut of the total funding available.
"We do understand that Tesla is looking to tweak their system to be more open access. So, if they do reach that point and meet those eligibility requirements, they certainly will be eligible for funding," Stuart Anderson, head of Iowa's transportation development division, told Reuters.
As of the end of last year, there were a total of 11,479 non-Tesla DC Fast chargers installed across the country and 17,248 Tesla Superchargers. However, not all Tesla's network will be available to every electric vehicle.
The deal between Tesla and the Administration resulted in Tesla agreeing to open up 3,500 new or existing superchargers to non-Tesla customers and double the total count of Supercharger stalls by the by the end of 2024.
The impact for non-Tesla vehicles will likely be minimal. According to Executive Analyst Karl Brauer at iSeeCars, "It’s worth noting that Tesla’s Supercharger network is both vast and advanced, with more Level 3 fast chargers than all other EV charging networks, including Electrify America and ChargePoint, combined. If Tesla opened its entire network up to non-Tesla vehicles it would immediately and substantially improve the EV infrastructure. Tesla could more than double the number of nationwide fast chargers available to electric vehicle drivers if the entire network was opened up. But Tesla has only committed to 3,500 Level 3 chargers becoming available by the end of 2024, or about 20 percent of its fast-charging network. Of course every little bit counts when trying to solve the EV infrastructure problem… but it’s disappointing to see this little bit coming from the nation’s largest fast charger network.”
The likely reason that Tesla decided not to open the entire Supercharger Network, at least initially, is the expected effect to existing and future Tesla owners. At times, the existing supercharger network already sees heavy usage with demand for charging exceeding the available stalls.
Opening the Supercharger Network to all electric vehicles from any manufacturer would also eliminate one of the biggest advantages Tesla has over its competitors as the reliability of non-Tesla fast charging networks can be finicky and frustrating and Tesla's charging experience is smooth and usually flawless. Many people point this out as a reason to buy Tesla vehicles over others.
Another potential reason behind the decision is potentially the cost and time associated with retrofitting the Magic Dock CCS adapter to every single Supercharger station could be more than the company wants to take on at the moment. Who knows?
What we do know, is that Tesla has a strong incentive to make changes if they want to access a part of that $7.5 Billion in funding. The exact amount of funding that Tesla will receive from the program was not disclosed by the company or by the White House; however, it is likely substantial.
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