Elon Musk’s electric vehicle charging technology is reshaping the landscape, potentially threatening one of President Biden’s key climate policies. Surprise agreements from automotive giants Ford and General Motors to adopt Tesla’s charging standard have tipped the scales towards a new status quo in the US electric vehicle market.
Just a few months ago, the Biden administration backed a rival charging tech with a $7.5 billion infrastructure fund. The sudden shift towards Tesla’s technology presents a quandary, splitting the electric vehicle market between two incompatible charging standards. “Imagine having a fuel dispenser with a different size hole than your gas tank,” remarked Arcady Sosinov, CEO of FreeWire Technologies.
This divergence could impede the electric vehicle rollout or force Washington to invest heavily in chargers incompatible with future cars and trucks. It’s not an unfamiliar situation; we’ve seen similar tech rivalries like the VHS versus Betamax in the 80s.
Ford and GM’s endorsement of Tesla’s North American Charging standard adds considerable weight to Tesla’s dominance in the charging business. These companies, together with Tesla, were responsible for 75% of US electric vehicle sales in the first quarter of this year.
The future of charging infrastructure appears to be leaning towards Tesla’s tech, seen as superior in terms of charging speed, ergonomics, and reliability. Ford and GM believe adopting Tesla’s standard will encourage the mass adoption of electric vehicles.
Yet, critics argue that the attempt to support both Tesla’s and the rival standard could hinder the US’ electric vehicle goals by delaying the establishment of a single charging standard. “Having one singular standard would ultimately be better for the consumer,” Sosinov pointed out. So, as the United States’ three largest electric vehicle manufacturers converge on Tesla’s technology, the future of charging seems increasingly tied to Musk’s vision.