Sunday, May 22, 2016

Tesla CTO voices frustration with worldwide charging standards

Earlier this week, Tesla CTO JB Straubel was invited on the Green and Inclusive Transport panel of the International Transport Forum 2016 in the German city of Leipzig to discuss everything from Tesla to sustainable energy and transport.
During the Q&A session, Straubel was asked by Beijing's China Daily reporter how he felt about the lack of harmonization of car charging standards, precisely in China after Tesla announced it will launch the Tesla Charging Partner Program to accelerate the adoption of the national charging standard in the country.
Straubel expressed his disappointment and frustration that every region wants to have its own standard rendering the goal of a unifying standard worldwide moot.

"We’re looking closely at the Chinese charging standard. Around the world, it has been a significant challenge for all new technology vehicle manufacturers. Every region wants to have its own standard which means there is no standard worldwide. Standard in America is completely different than Europe and Asia. Cars going down our factory line end up having a whole different variety of connectors and ways to plug them in. It’s also a challenge, as we start early in some markets and then the standards change. This is one of the risks of being an early entrant obviously in any market within any technology, but with electrification in particular we’re seeing constant evolution of standards in Europe as well as in China. We definitely want to make it as convenient as humanly possible for users to drive the cars. That’s the end goal. We don’t have any desire to make something proprietary, we just want to make it easy to use."
Tesla has 87 Supercharger stations and 496 Destination Charging centers in China. However, they are not based on the new national standard. Tesla might adjust these charging networks for interconnection compatibility with varying standards and develop new charging infrastructure in the country. Current Model S owners in China are voicing their concerns that the new standard will add additional costs to converting or acquiring new adapters in order to use Tesla's chargers.

On whether Tesla will build a factory in China any time soon. JB was hesitant to confirm and reminded the reporter that it only makes sense after the market has reached critical mass.

"I can’t say very much about factory locations, obviously it makes sense in the long term that you build cars as close to your markets as possible but you need critical mass in those markets before it makes sense to have production. It really is a strategy where eventually production will follow demand, it just takes a while for that to catch up."

When asked if Tesla will expand to U.A.E. as well, Straubel reiterated "we have to reach a critical mass in every market before we can expand to a new market. We try to take it one step at a time."
Last year, Jordanian Manaseer Group installed three Supercharging stations in Irbird, Qatrana and Aqaba. Even though Tesla still does not show those superchargers on their map.
Elon Musk did confirm their presence through a tweet last year and announced more to come in the region by this year. More than 100 Tesla vehicles are alleged to be driving in Jordan already. 
In addition, Tesla is looking to expand its charging network and retail stores in the Balkan peninsula and further to Turkey this year after registering their business at the Turkish Chamber of Commerce in 2015. It is still unknown how the future of Tesla will play out in the Middle East due to the region's extreme instability. Tesla has yet to even announce its expansion into the Israeli market where electrification of the transport sector is starting to pick up pace.

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