• an EV charging station

      Tesla charging units on Glenarm in Pasadena (Photo – Special to ColoradoBlvd.net)

      Like the proverbial Betamax vs. VHS technology competition of the 1980s, EV fast charging has been caught up in a wasteful turf war involving three different formats, basically boiling down to Japan versus Europe/North America vs. Tesla.

      By Ethan Elkind

      But now we suddenly have a winner, as first Ford and then General Motors and startup Rivian have all pledged, in the past few weeks, to adopt the Tesla charging standard in their vehicles starting next year, with adapters available for consumers this year.

      It couldn’t happen soon enough. The differing charging formats meant EV drivers were limited where they could get fast charging or had to carry adapters, while non-Tesla charging stations had to have multiple plugs available for different formats.

      The other problem is that non-Tesla chargers are basically awful. They’re unreliable, clunky and often with low power. While legacy automakers dithered and refused to invest in a network of chargers, Tesla instead built a user-friendly, ubiquitous network. The company is now poised to reap the economic benefits, from its position as a dominant market leader in vehicle sales.

      One of the big questions now is what happens to all the soon-to-be-obsolete chargers out there? Companies like EVgo and Electrify America have built thousands of fast-charger stations with formats that are now zombie technology. Worse, the public has invested significantly in these stations, with EVgo a creation of a $100 million legal settlement from the California energy crisis circa 2000, while Electrify America was funded with dollars from the Volkswagen “dieselgate” emissions cheating settlement, to the tune of almost $1 billion in California alone.

      All will not be lost, as the stations can be retrofitted in some cases. The wiring is sometimes the hard part, so charger replacement by itself may not be too expensive. But in some cases, retrofits may be uneconomical. And ultimately, these companies are likely to go out of business, unless they can get access to Tesla’s intellectual property to build their own versions of a Tesla SuperCharger.

      If not, Tesla will have a monopoly on charging stations, which will create its own long-term problems. But for now, the charging format wars have ended, in favor of the far superior product.

      That’s something that both EV advocates and drivers can finally celebrate.


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      Contributor

      Comments

      1. Susannah Saunders says:

        Not so fast. Tesla has not proven it can work with all these different models. Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5 could not successfully charge at the fast speeds Electrify America is capable of. Tesla cables are short so they avoid the clunky CCS charger cables, but they cannot reach any of the non Tesla models right now. Until cars are made with Tesla port with the same location as tesla models it’s going to be a mess. Furthermore, Electrify America has greatly improved it’s network and the new units are future proof with charging speeds of 350kw. Tesla chargers will all need to be replaced to charge new models with lightning quick charge speeds. I think car companies are jumping the gun here. Elon Musk has a habit of over promising and then not delivering. (Like the auto pilot.) Slower Ford style charging works but Chevy Electric Silverado will go at vastly slower speed at a Tesla charger until he replaces the current chargers with V4 models. The Tesla Magic Dock tested by Consumer Reports had a failure record similar to CCS chargers. Tesla charging system is not a magic bullet. This is going to be more like microsoft and apple. Let the games begin and now there will be competition so everyone will have to get their act together. Remember 80% of charging is done at home!

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