German Automakers Gang Up On Tesla Over EV Plug Monopoly

Industry News

This is about to get interesting.

To its full credit, Tesla was the first automaker to develop and put on the market the necessary technologies for electric vehicles. It’s not just the cars, but also the charging network. And right now, it has sort of a monopoly on the network part. Even more specifically, the industry standard for plugs. According to Automotive News Europe, BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen are teaming up to take on Tesla’s EV plug monopoly in Europe.

You see, both Japanese and German automakers use “different plugs and communication protocols to link batteries to chargers, but companies building the charging networks needed for EVs to become mainstream say the number of plug formats will need to be limited to keep costs down.” Last November, these German automakers, along with Ford, announced a plan to develop 400 charging stations on some of Europe’s main roads by 2020. It’s called the Combined Charging System (CCS) and the clear goal is to outgun Tesla, but first these automakers will need to catch up to what the former has already accomplished.

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In the end, it is about safe-guarding investments for those that are investing in electric mobility," said Claas Bracklo, head of electro-mobility at BMW and the chairman of the Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN), which is backing CCS. "We have founded CharIN to build a position of power.” Basically what’s going on here is a plug format war. At the moment, Tesla has 8,496 superchargers throughout the world, mostly in the US, while CCS has 7,000 globally. The European Union, not surprisingly, is backing CCS. Where Tesla may run into problems in the near future is the fact that its charging network is exclusive to its customers, while the CCS encompasses several automakers in one.

More will probably join instead of devising their own network, which would be crazy expensive and kind of pointless. "If I were Nissan, I'd be wanting to take that standard and make it the dominant one," said Gerard Reid, founder of Alexa Capital that advises companies in the energy, technology and power infrastructure sectors. "It creates a competitive advantage for them," he said. As to how Tesla will handle the upcoming onslaught against it is anybody’s guess, but Elon Musk has always favored competition. Let’s see how responds this time.

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