Last week while I was away, Tesla made an important announcement that affects all Australian Electric Vehicle owners – they are opening their supercharger network to all Electric Vehicles. I’ve been calling for this for some time, not because it’s good for other brand owners, but because it’s good for the business of Tesla.
Tesla has around 50 different Supercharger locations in Australia, from capital city locations through to spots dotted all along our major highways. The construction and development of that network was critical to the growth of the Tesla car business in Australia, and for the EV industry overall, making it possible to simply drive on our key highways and enjoy the drive like any other driver on the road.
But as more and more brands hit Australia, there have been other chargers installed, and many more highway locations opened up under different brands like Chargefox, Evie, or the NRMA/RACV etc.
The problem as an EV driver though is that you could be driving from Sydney to Tamworth with a planned stop in Scone and fall short and frustrated because someone else is using the single charger installed in that location.
Tesla almost never installs just one charger (think of that like the pump at a servo), instead the multiple bays mean it’s rare to come to a charger with no vacant space.
This became a drawcard for Tesla ownership, and still is to this day.
While Tesla is a wildly successful car company, they are pricey and will hit a limit at some point. Lower cost brands and big establish brands entering and expanding in the EV space mean they won’t be the big seller forever either.
That huge infrastructure network of chargers is actually the most valuable thing about the Tesla business. In my view, it’s the “Shell” or “BP” of the future. And last week’s announcement enables that.
Starting in five locations, Tesla is allowing other EV brands to charge at their sites.
Those first five sites are Narooma, Hollydene, West Tamworth, Dubbo and Bathurst.
There are one or two big problems left with this though, as Tesla moves toward opening their entire network.
Firstly the price. 60c per kWh is a steep price, though not unprecedented, the Chargefox rates jumped here too last year, but we do have to wonder if there is enough competition in the market to ensure prices aren’t just creeping up and up and making all those purchase calculations for EVs redundant.
And that brings me to the second point, competition. We need to ensure that at all times any competitor is given the same access to power and location infrastructure in the areas where Tesla was the first mover. Competition is important, and while Ampol and others are rolling out chargers, that’s going to take some time!
Exciting times though for EV owners.
As someone who has been observing and covering this since 2014 when I drive the first Tesla in Australia, it’s amazing to watch.