German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer is currently talking with Tesla to make its Superchargers available for electric vehicles manufactured by other automakers. He says that there are some technical issues to solve, but the obstacles are not insurmountable.
“I am in direct talks with carmakers such as Tesla to make sure the existing infrastructure, for example Tesla’s Superchargers, will be open to other manufacturers,” Scheuer said.
The goal is to make it possible for EV owners to charge their cars across brands in the same way that gas-powered cars can be refueled at any gas station pump that provides the appropriate fuel. It would ideally be possible to manage the transaction through a mobile app, including the inclusion of a streamlined payment process through the app.
Although details of the talks have not been made public, Tesla could hesitate due to obstacles to the completion of Gigafactory Berlin that includes increasingly frequent challenges from environmentalist groups and bureaucratic red tape for final approval of completion of the Gigafactory. Many Tesla vehicles sold in Europe are imported from China and Tesla could reasonably use the talks to push for approving the ability to produce them more locally.
Tesla currently operates more than 1,000 out of the 40,000 charging spots in Germany. Europe has been focused on bringing its EV charging infrastructure up to speed due to the increasing expected demand for electric vehicles. Much of this expected demand is driven by upcoming regulatory requirements like the UK’s plan to ban all new diesel- and gasoline-powered vehicle sales in the UK by 2030. Experts say that the plan will require 2.3 million chargers to be operating in the UK by then.
They are working on it even if some worry that they may not have enough chargers by 2030. Oxford is investing in the “Oxford Superhub” that will include a total of 38 chargers along with partners like Tesla and Fastned, for instance.
The investment in new infrastructure for electric vehicles will be important for adoption because some consumers worry about “range anxiety,” the concern that they may not be able to use an electric vehicle like a gasoline-powered vehicle due to range limitations, long charging times, and lack of publicly available charging stations. Efforts to reduce this anxiety include one Israeli company’s work on a vehicle battery that could add 100 miles of range in 5 minutes.
On the flip side, Norwegian Tesla vehicle owners recently won a legal case related to allegations that a recent software update “throttled” their vehicle’s battery, reducing its range. Tesla did not publicly provide any rational for throttling the batteries.
Previously, carmakers and utilities have gone their own way to solve the lack of charging stations. Tesla was the first carmaker to make a major push to install its own Superchargers in support of its electric vehicles. It could provide free charging to owners of its vehicles, though some owners of other electric vehicles found a “work-around” that allowed them to charge cars made by other automakers. The current talks between Germany and Tesla could spark changes that include more standardized charging stations that can be used by any electric vehicle owner.