Tesla has decided to walk away from millions of dollars in public funding for Superchargers in California due to a requirement to integrate a payment system.
Public money is flowing into electric vehicle charging infrastructure right now.
There’s the $7 billion from the federal government that is about to be distributed, but other grants are also being distributed at all levels of government.
For the former, Tesla had to adapt and open up stations to non-Tesla electric vehicles in order to get access to funding.
But other financing programs have different requirements. In California, Tesla was in the running for $6 million in funding for four large Supercharger stations with 420 charge points.
The California Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program Rural Electric Vehicle Charging program was behind the funding.
Now we learn that Tesla has given up on the $6 million in subsidies because it doesn’t want to comply with “payment infrastructure requirements.”
Drive Tesla Canada obtained a letter that Tesla’s Policy and Business Development Lead in California, Jennifer Cohen, sent to the CEC:
The California Clean Energy Commission (CEC) has been a great visionary in the expansion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in California. Unfortunately, due to unnecessarily cumbersome payment infrastructure requirements, we are unable to utilize this award.
Some programs require that charging stations have screens and credit card payment systems directly on the station in order to be eligible for funding.
Tesla always handled all Supercharger payments through its mobile app, which has enabled them to simplify the design of the Supercharger stalls and remove a potential failure point.
Tesla decided not to adapt for this specific incentive to gain federal funding.
Top comment by StalePhish
Payment and authentication screens are the main hinderance for public charging right now IMO. While it's sad that Tesla had to walk away for this reason, they do presently have the best payment authorization system on the market (for first-party Tesla vehicles). It's just a bummer that there couldn't be a shared payment API like what Tesla uses that would be available for others to use. Plug-and-play is the perfect UX.
The CEC also required 50% of the charge points to have CCS connectors, but Tesla already has a solution for that with its Magic Dock CCS adapter that it started to deploy at Supercharger stations to support non-Tesla electric vehicles.
If $6 million didn’t do it, it looks pretty clear now that Tesla will never adopt a payment system at its Supercharger stations.
As we previously noted, no one is more capital efficient than Tesla when it comes to deploying reliable DC fast-charging stations.
Therefore, it’s a bit of a bummer that Tesla is not using that money, but it doesn’t really need it anyway. I think Tesla will be deploying Supercharger stations as fast as it possibly can, with or without subsidies.
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