Op-Ed: Here’s Whats Makes the Tesla Supercharger Network Model Revolutionary
Tesla Motors’ business model of selling cars directly is for sure revolutionary and is in opposition to dealer network used by others. But let’s not overlook Tesla’s revolutionary Supercharging network.
First of all, we need to realize that the infrastructure operator business isn’t easy. I’d say that it’s rather hard, because a company must make profits on selling something very cheap like several kWh of energy. High margins will discourage users. Moreover, in contrast to ICE cars, users can charge cheaper at home. Charging takes more time, but it’s easily done at home.
All this makes the charging business radically different than the fuel station business.
And this is where Tesla Motors changes the world:
1. Not selling electricity
In opposition to the majority of charging point networks, Tesla is not selling electric energy or time units of charging. The main benefit of this is that, in contrast to others, Tesla is not struggling/not searching for what plan use, what level of price to set, how to collect payments and what authorization system to choose. Moreover, if you are not selling electricity, you don’t have problems with local energy regulators that, in many places of the world, still require utility companies to that task.
We think Tesla includes a fixed estimated average cost of using Superchargers in price of the car or in the optional feature.
2. Less places, but many at one place and with high power
The second big thing is that Tesla is not installing one or two charging points, which makes single units more costly. Instead, Tesla installs 8 or 10 charge points at a single location. This mean less permissions, contracts, places to service, etc. For the user, this also means that he or she will probably find it easier to use a free Supercharger without waiting (compared to 10 distinct stations at different locations, but with only one terminal each).
Additionally, Tesla is installing high power DC charging stations that attract more people due to reduced charging times, but probably makes it all less costly for Tesla per kW of installed power.
3. Using power modules from electric cars
Typically, manufacturers produce dozens to a few hundred DC chargers per year. This is not a high level and it’s hard to offset the development cost. Again, Tesla did something different here by using about 10 kW power modules used in the on-board charger in the Model S. Producing 20,000 cars means that Tesla will also produce from 20,000 to 40,000 power modules annually. 120 kW Supercharger will use 12 power modules, so if they will build 500 spots a year, an additional 6,000 power modules will be used. This makes the business more viable.
What else? For sure there are other aspects of the Tesla charging network that are not only unique, but probably far superior to conventional ones. So, we now turn it over to you. What do you think makes the Supercharging network unique, unusual, spectacular and so on?