One of the largest complaints held against electric vehicles has been the lack of range. Some vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, use range-extending engines to compensate for this, but the perception remains that an electric vehicle is more problematic than a gasoline based vehicle for longer trips. While charging stations do exist, they many times are ad-hoc systems, added to established businesses and do not resemble the classic gas station model which people are used to.
Tesla Motors has decided on addressing this problem head on. As of right now, Tesla has opened up six of its new Tesla Supercharging Stations across California with plans to roll out more over the next few years, strategically placed along highways in the same manner in which gas stations now are set up.
One problem, however, is that these stations are vehicle-specific. Unless you have a Tesla Model S with an upgraded battery, you cannot charge your electric vehicle at one of these new stations. The Model S uses a proprietory electrical plug, different even from the Tesla Roadster, with the result being that these new Supercharger Stations are useless for the majority of Electric Vehicles on the road.
The Supercharger Stations bring to light the underlying war happening in the electric vehicle industry, that of plug compatibility. Before the Tesla Model S, there were two competing standards, CHAdeMO and J1772, which was by itself an issue when vehicles compatible with one were unable to use the other. Now, Tesla makes a bad situation worse by rolling out not only a proprietary plug, but using its position to roll out highly visible charging stations which only use this new plug, freezing out the competition. This is how anti-trust litigation begins, and to see any auto maker take this step is a road which all companies wanted to avoid.
Tesla, with its highly visible profile, could have led the way to a bright, gasoline-free future. Instead they decided on going down the path of failure which has doomed numerous other companies. But with Tesla’s position, they not only are risking their own future, but the future of the entire electric vehicle market. The irresponsibility of the corporation and their short sighted view of the market bodes poorly for their viability in the marketplace.
Tesla pioneered much of the Electric Vehicle renaissance which is starting to form. This new step by them might suffocate this before it has had time to grow into its own. As a vehicle company focused on electric vehicle, Tesla has just made one of the worst moves they could. Instead of encouraging growth of the electrical vehicle market, which would increase their own product visibility, they decided on making a walled off palace, which is playing right into the hands of oil companies . Way to go, Tesla.