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How will luxury brands compete with the Supercharger network over the next 3-5 years?

Discussion in 'Model S' started by calisnow, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    EDIT: please see this thread in the main Model S forum. Moderator: accidental post in the wrong forum here, please delete. Thank you.
     
  2. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    #2 calisnow, Jan 18, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016

    Sorry for the cross post - moderator please delete the other one I accidentally posted in the user interface forum.

    The 7.1 "complain" thread got me thinking about what it would take for me to go back to Mercedes and BMW (or to Apple) in three years when my Model S lease is up. Let's assume they have autonomous driving on par with Tesla in terms of capability and reliability (I'm not sure they will) 36 months from now. Okay, so that playing field is level.

    Let's assume they have fully electric sedans - okay, that playing field is level.

    Now let's assume the customer wants their fully electric Benz to give them the same freedom of long distance travel as a Tesla. How will that be possible unless MBZ has either:

    1 - Built its own rapid charging network
    2 - Purchased access to Tesla's.
    3 - Built a car with range so long that rapid charging stations are no longer necessary.

    I don't see how #3 will come true 36 months from now, barring major battery tech advances currently unforeseen. Say - a 500 mile range. That much would be enough buffer to make me feel comfortable driving from L.A. to Mammoth 300 miles away with no place to charge in between. But in 3 years we don't foresee any 500 mile sedans, do we?

    So - I can't see what will make me go back to the Germans unless they have built out a comprehensive charging structure like Teslas. And Tesla has an incredible head start. Just between L.A. and Mammoth there at least 3 superchargers (depending on the route one takes), plus another one just built in the town of Mammoth itself, plus Tesla chargers installed underground at my condo complex.

    So how will competitors sell electric cars that compete with Model S and Model X if they don't build a charging infrastructure?

    What good is Porsche's 15 minute charging system in the Mission E if it can't get me all the way to Vegas before I must plug it in to charge and there are no Porsche compatible rapid chargers along the way?

    Surely automakers must have a plan - but they can't all go build out separate networks. Will they be forced to do business with Tesla and buy into the Supercharger network?

    Or do we have a "charging format battle of the titans" brewing for the next decade?​

    Additional thought: even if the automakers wanted to start catching up to Tesla's charging network they don't seem to be doing it yet - they haven't started and the Model S has been on the road since 2012, and Tesla's sales are growing exponentially. What is the industry's charging network plan? One viable plan, I suppose, is simply to skip the charge network stage altogether and wait for battery tech to get to the 500-700 mile range so that networks are simply unnecessary.





     
  3. supratachophobia

    supratachophobia Active Member

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    Simple answer, they won't. The supercharger network is the moat that protects the Tesla Model S castle. As long as other luxury cars are anchored to one city, it will be a huge uphill battle for car makers to convince anyone, especially Americans (drivers who want at least the perception of freedom, regardless of if they actually take lots of trips), that a car will satisfy their needs if it can't leave the outskirts of the city they live in.
     
  4. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    Okay, but surely they are planning *something*? At this point - 2016 - they must have a plan. Tesla is not a joke any more, its sales are on an exponential curve. The competition isn't going to die without a fight, and it is well funded. And all the CEO's of the other automakers are obviously also aware that there is a "moat" issue with Tesla's charging network. So, theoretically - what could their plan be?

    ALSO - let's talk Apple. They have no ICE business to worry about cannibalizing. They of course are also aware of the charging network moat problem. They are also starting from zero. Yet they are clearly putting hundreds of millions, if not billions, into developing an EV. What could their plan be WRT the charging network problem? Will they aim simply for a city car in the short term, and wait for battery tech to dramatically advance before building a long distance car?
     
  5. Model S M.D.

    Model S M.D. Ludicrous Radiologist

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  6. roblab

    roblab Active Member

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    And they are convinced of this. That's why the holy grail of plug in cars for most everybody other than Tesla, is spelled h-y-b-r-i-d. Those "short range" plug-ins are for urban use. I think Tesla will eat their lunch. Unless Tesla doesn't like Bratwurst and Beer.
     
  7. Bangor Bob

    Bangor Bob Member

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    #7 Bangor Bob, Jan 18, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
    One possibility: If you have a fully autonomous self-charging fleet, range and recharge times don't matter. They tough it out with current tech until full autonomy is available.

    Hail a car. Get in. If your trip exceeds the range, then when the first one is exhausted you change cars to another one that's charged. Maybe it's at a depot with restrooms, refreshments, etc. Sort of like an inter-city coach station, only with autonomous cars coming and going instead of buses.
     
  8. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

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    I think the strategy to do the Supercharger network was brilliant. Worth every penny of the investment. Makes the car viable for pretty much anybody in a passenger vehicle. Not only is it convenient, it's exclusive (and more extensive every week), which goes a long way toward the luxury allure. They are only for us.
     
  9. stevezzzz

    stevezzzz R;SigS;P85D;SigX

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    It's the Pony Express of the 21st Century! :biggrin:

    ...and let's not forget that the original Pony Express service, despite looming large in the public imagination, lasted only somewhat less than a year. :wink:
     
  10. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Gee, wouldn't that be convenient. Every 50 miles you have to unload one car and load another. Non-starter.
     
  11. Soolim

    Soolim Member

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    #11 Soolim, Jan 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
    Offer a swap of the BEV you bought from them with a hybrid for long distance travel. BMW already have something similar.

    I know that running a poll on this forum will not be meaningful, but I like to ask the questions for general consideration:
    1. How many potential BEV buyers think that 200+ miles range and supercharger is important?
    2. How many would like to own BEV for urban driving and still keep an ICE for the necessity?
    My wild guess is less than 25% for 200+ range and SpC. If my armchair speculation make sense, there are still remaining 75% of potential BEV buyers that may consider some other manufacturers beside Tesla strictly from the point of view of range and SpC. I speculate that majority of the Tesla owners still have an ICE for some reason.

    I don't think ICE will be dinosaur in the next 10 years. Oil company will make sure it does not happen in that period of time.
     
  12. GSP

    GSP Member

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    The approach from BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, and future Cadillacs is to offer PHEVs. Just use the plain old gas station network (POGSN?).

    Porsche, BMW, Audi, and Nissan are also making some baby steps toward offering a DC fast charging "network" as well. Not really using good network design principles yet. They seem to be slow learners.

    GSP
     
  13. Wilcino

    Wilcino Member

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    Why do people think that Tesla won't sell access to the Supercharger network? Tesla sell luxury cars, but surely that network costs them way to much to build and maintain to make money from just Tesla owners.

    Free access is a perk Model S owners can enjoy, but it's such a valuable asset to other car makers I'd be very surprised if they couldn't buy access. I'm interested in what patents, and technological IP protection they have over access to the chargers. Presumably a station can track what car is plugged into it. Currently stations are an all-or-nothing proposition (if you think back to early cars where it was optional) so Tesla users don't notice it, but I imagine the kit inside of them is capable of tracking the usage and what car it went to. The potential upside is massive, imagine being the owner of the majority of fuel stations in the developed world, that a phenomenally valuable position. I actually think this where Tesla could make the most money. They've got the such a large headstart in a world where network effects are very powerful.

    If Porsche etc want to introduce a comparable car to the MS (i.e. High-end, high-performance large saloon similar to a Panamera/7-series/Rapide), which appears to be where they want to start, then without a long distance option of vaguely similar breadth to Tesla, they're going to lose a lot of sales. There are moderately fast DC charging options, but I don't think any of the current standards can compete with a supercharger, nor are there any proposed updates to these standards to allow competition?

    Porsche made a big thing about how they've got a 800V fast charging system for their Mission E that is even faster than a Supercharger, but Porsche as a brand is not going to have the resources or incentive to build a network themselves. They're an exclusive car company, the Boxster is still an expensive and impractical proposition, and they want to stay that way. Tesla are planning a 'mass-market' Model 3, but Porsche won't have anything similar. Audi is the most likely, possibly to lead the branding and sales for the whole VW group (however I think they're going to need to invent a new brand to cross all the existing ones, their existing car brands are probably to stratified).

    If other manufacturers (at this level, premium German brands) don't do a deal with Tesla, I think they'll have to set up a joint venture, with new charging points with a new high-speed charging standard, and they're going to have to invest a lot of money with a long return time to get on a par with the supercharger network.
     
  14. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    Elon Musk has said the SC network is available to any car maker willing to pay for their share of use.

    However, I think the mainstream automakers would prefer to eat glass than do anything that will help Tesla. From all I've seen it looks like the various automakers planning long range BEVs are just hoping someone else will build a network for them. A number of car companies have been talking to governments around the world to do just that. The German car makers might have some success in Europe, but I doubt anyone will get any help in the US.

    I think mainstream car makers are also ambivalent about BEVs right now. They are sort of playing with the technology, but they would rather sell hybrids which continue to use the ICE technology they invested so much money into developing over the last century. And ultimately nobody but Tesla can mass produce BEVs for at least 5+ years because the factories to mass produce the batteries needed aren't there and aren't even being planned. GM is only planning to build 30,000 Bolts a year and estimates of LG Chem's extra capacity that could be brought online would only allow for about 52,000 Bolts a year and that would leave no batteries left over for any of LG Chem's other customers to expand production.

    Most car makers today are very highly dependent on suppliers for everything but final manufacturing and engines. From that mindset, it's natural to think somebody else will build the charging network. Somebody built gas stations for ICE cars. But the economy of scale for BEVs won't be there for a while and the network will have to be built out at a loss until BEVs become more common. Toyota is finding the same problem with hydrogen stations, until there are a lot of hydrogen fueled cars on the road, there is little economic incentive to build stations (which cost more than gasoline stations) and without a hydrogen fueling network, consumers are tepid about buying the car. (Ignoring the fact fuel cells are also an impractical technology for many other reasons.)

    Tesla saw the need and decided to fill it themselves. By making them free, they reduce complaints while the network builds out. I think JB Straubel or Elon mentioned recently that superchargers won't remain free forever, but all cars purchased before the date of the switch over will continue to have free charging. In any case, Tesla is several moves ahead of the competition and they don't realize it yet.
     
  15. jaguar36

    jaguar36 Member

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    Not have the resources? Porsche is a much much bigger company than Tesla, not to mention that they are part of the VW megacorp.

    Any other company could easily have done what Tesla did and do it much faster if they wanted to. Tesla put in ~250 superchargers in 2.5 years. One of the biggest hurdles they faced in doing so was getting local authorities to understand the chargers and why they are needed. With that groundwork laid it will be significantly easier for another automaker to copy them. Any of the big automakers could easily do that in a year, far sooner than any EVs will hit the market with he possible exception of the Bolt.

    GM has 23.5$ Billion in cash and short term investments. Not to mention that they already have an existing network of real estate locations that they could use as a basis for a charging network. The only thing they lack is the desire to build a network, which could change at the drop of the hat. While the supercharger network is a great feature for Tesla, I would stake anything on the fact that it will remain a competitive advantage.
     
  16. supratachophobia

    supratachophobia Active Member

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    They might be planning something. But its either a fantasy that SAE fast charge will miraculously just show up over night (90kw max BTW) or the last resort is using the Tesla network which they don't want to do because that would give validity to the competition.

    And if apple makes a car, it will be for hipsters to rent (license) and it will go 50 miles. They will accept the range limitation because it's Apple making the product and they've been conditioned for the last decade that if it has the logo, they need to throw money at it, regardless the limitations.

    The more you think about it, the larger the gamble you realize Tesla is making on all this. They could very well crash and burn, but it will be spectacular. Have you seen the map at supercharge.info? Tesla is in it to win it.
     
  17. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Incredible as it may seem to many of us here at TMC, the traditional car companies do not appear to have any plan to build a high speed charging network for long distance EV travel. And as @wdolson says, they are too proud to consider paying Tesla to use their network. I cannot imagine that the proud German brands like BMW and MB and Audi and Porsche would ever let their cars plug into a charger that says "Tesla" on it.
    We know that Elon has stated repeatedly that other car companies are welcome to use the Superchargers if they are willing to pay for it (and I don't just mean a few dollars per charge, but providing money to add more Supercharging locations). But they haven't done it and I don't expect them to do it for the next several years. They don't think EVs will catch on that quickly. They think they can just announce that a few years from now they will offer a long range EV and in the meantime build a few hybrids while assuming their ICE sales will continue. But the S has clearly stolen sales from them, the X will take more, then the Model 3 will take even more and finally about 5 years from now the traditional auto companies will find themselves in a big hole of their own creation. By then Tesla will be way ahead in EV technology and in driving down costs, and the Supercharger network will be ubiquitous.
    Interesting times...
     
  18. roblab

    roblab Active Member

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    This is, in my humble opinion, the drawback to driverless rentals. We have a "bus station" in a town near us. It stinks. The passengers are poorly dressed, dirty, carrying plastic bags for clothes. Sure, they need cheap transportation, but it's why you don't rent out YOUR Tesla. People, generally, just don't care. Their own homes look like a trash or garbage can, and their cars are worse. How many movies have you seen where the hero rents a car and trashes it, for fun?

    At least Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and bus drivers are there watching. They have cameras on the rail lines. But I don't want to get in a rental AP car that has drunk vomit on the seats, and trash and garbage on the floor. The alternative is that the company hoses the car down between renters, and that sounds like the pay bathrooms that are all plastic. Good luck with that.
     
  19. Rockster

    Rockster Active Member

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    This is a very important point that should not be trivialized. If a Supercharger cost is around $100,000 (a figure I think I've seen bandied about), then someone inclined to throw a measly $100M at the problem could deploy 1,000 Supercharger-equivalents in a matter of months. Yes, right now this is not the way that GM or Porsche is thinking but with a shift in corporate attitude, one of the big players could fill the moat around Tesla's castle pretty quickly. Were I betting person I'd say that it's not likely to occur any time soon, but it's certainly conceivable.
     
  20. techmaven

    techmaven Active Member

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    #20 techmaven, Jan 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
    Once SAE gets around to finalizing a real L3 DC charging standard, I think the situation changes a lot.

    Right now, the CCS plug standard is limited to 200 amps. They then use 500 volts x 200 amps to claim 100 kW. But we all know that realistic pack voltages are 300-400 volts, so realistically EV's could charge at 60-75 kW off these 100 kW EVSE's if they could tolerate the c-rate. Right now, only the Bolt might be able to actually handle charge rates higher than about 75 kW. Therefore, the current CHAdeMO and CCS networks are really destination charging networks or urban commuter charging networks instead of really long distance charging networks between the vehicles available and the plug standard. After all, it is hard to install chargers in locations where the current crop of vehicles are not likely going to make it there in significant numbers.

    For the automakers, they'd rather see that people are buying a vehicle like the Bolt in big numbers before investing $100s of millions into a charging network. Further, unless there is agreement amongst the automakers of a fixed equal contribution, why would GM sponsor BMW's charging? Or Nissan sponsor Kia's? Certainly not in a big way. So they take a bit of marketing budget to light up some corridors and most of that money goes into setting up chargers at dealerships that have some brand affiliation associated with that expenditure.

    I think once the next CCS standard is finalized and equipment is available, then NRG eVGo, ChargePoint, SEMA, etc. can then whole heartedly install L3 chargers with the knowledge that upcoming vehicles will use them. The payback period stretches much further into the horizon. But the timing is more like standard finalization in 2017, equipment availability in sometime late 2017, 2018 model year cars might start to have it, so widespread deployment in 2018 to 2020.

    If you look at 2018 or 2019 as years where the current 200 amp CCS plug looks dated like the 20-24 amp Blink J1772 network, then why put a lot of money today into such a plug standard? The ROI certainly isn't there. And CHAdeMO is likely to die regardless of its early lead in the L2 DC charging space. Both CCS and CHAdeMO have to start over at 0 installs of L3 EVSEs.

    It will be interesting to see this shakes out in 2018. Will one buy a 2019 BMW, GM, VAG, or other product with a nascent CCS network or a more fully developed Supercharger network? When will Tesla make a CCS v2 adapter, or possibly even switch over, especially in Europe? Will Nissan/Kia/Mitsubishi be forced to CCS v2 in Europe and therefore eventually be forced by the market in the U.S.?
     

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