In one management decision and a software update, Tesla has just done more to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in this nation than the combined efforts of state and federal governments so far.
Let me go back to the beginning.
Tesla started deliveries of the world's first premium electric sedan on June 22, 2012 from its California factory. The goal in 2012, as it is today, was "to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible".
In 2012, Tesla also had a belief that customers would not buy an EV unless they had a convenient way to recharge their cars when they were travelling away from home.
Hence the launch of six Tesla supercharging stations across the United States on September 24, 2012.
On December 10, 2014, the first superchargers were opened in Australia, after the first deliveries of the Tesla Model S the previous day.
The first Tesla vehicles had unlimited lifetime free charging at Tesla Superchargers so the cost of using your Tesla was free.
Even though that sounds like an incredibly attractive feature, but I typically charged my first Tesla at home for convenience.
I used the superchargers to make charging on road trips easier, rather than for the free electricity.
As the Tesla juggernaut continued, the company added a range of destination chargers - typically free - at various motels and hospitality locations to encourage people to stop or stay at those locations.
All of this gave Tesla a huge competitive advantage.
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Jump forward to today and Tesla has 4678 supercharger stations worldwide with 42,419 individual charging stalls.
There are also more than 35,000 registered destination chargers with many more that are not officially registered.
Australia has 69 supercharger stations with more than 400 individual charging stalls (most charging stations have six stalls) plus more than 500 destination chargers.
The superchargers typically charge at a rate of 150kW or 250kW (depending on the version) and the destination chargers at a more pedestrian 11.5kW.
If you are considering other EVs - Polestar, BYD, MG, Hyundai or basically any non-Tesla - an important consideration is charging.
The Tesla network is not available to non-Tesla vehicles. Your options are then limited.
Chargefox has 260 chargers; Evie has 65; NRMA has 50 across NSW, and there are other smaller players.
Remember that Tesla vehicles can use these chargers in addition to the Tesla network.
Is it any wonder that Tesla outsold the number two placed EV brand in 2022 - Hyundai - by a multiple of 7.5?
Well, that all changed with the latest announcement that five supercharger locations in Australia will now allow charging of non-Tesla EVs and Tesla is encouraging outlets with destination chargers to upgrade to Generation 3 units, which will allow non-Tesla charging.
Assuming the initial trial with five locations progresses to all superchargers across the nation, this is a huge boost for every non-Tesla branded EV on the market and will facilitate an increase in the uptake of EVs in Australia.
Which begs the question. Why? Tesla is in such a strong position, why not take advantage of it?
In speaking with Tesla, it reminded me of the Tesla mission statement and this decision will help accelerate the widespread adoption of EVs.
While that sounds very altruistic, I also suspect Tesla believes that, although this might reduce its market share, it will grow the overall market to the point that it will sell more cars.
Whatever the reason, this is good news for consumers and good news for the planet.
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