The growing dominance of Elon Musk’s electric vehicle (EV) charging technology poses a potentially significant threat to a key pillar of the Biden administration’s EV spending push and larger climate agenda, according to Politico.
The Tesla CEO recently made unexpected deals with Ford and General Motors (GM) which will result in the major auto manufacturers using Musk’s EV charging technology and cables for their EVs. As a result, the growing American EV market faces a divide between two incompatible charging systems which may delay widespread EV adoption or cause the administration to sink vast sums of taxpayer dollars into chargers that future EVs will not use, according to Politico.
Biden’s signature Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $7.5 billion in taxpayer funds for EV charger subsidies, of which hundreds of millions are directly invested in charger technology that is incompatible with Musk’s EV charging system, according to Politico. The administration effectively will have wasted the taxpayer dollars it invested in the incompatible charging technology if Musk’s charging system becomes the industry standard in the future.
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“Imagine having a fuel dispenser with a different size hole than your gas tank,” Arcady Sosinov, founder and CEO of charging company FreeWire Technologies, told Politico. “It just seems ridiculous, but that’s essentially what’s happening in the EV charging industry,” he said to Politico.
Tesla, Ford, and GM were responsible for 75% of EV sales in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2023, according to data from Cox Automotive. The deals with Ford and GM drive the broader EV industry in the direction of adopting Musk’s charging technology as an industry-wide standard, according to Politico.
Industry leaders tend to agree that Musk’s charging system is more efficient and reliable than the Biden administration-funded alternative, according to Politico.
The White House has defended its subsidy design by maintaining that EV companies can use the taxpayer funds to build charging stations using Musk’s technology adjacent to charging stations which use the administration’s preferred technology, according to Politico. Biden has said that he aims for EVs to make up more than 40% of all new U.S. auto sales by 2030.
If the EV industry cannot converge upon a single standard charging system, that shift to EVs will take longer than it otherwise would with a standard charging system compatible with all EVs on the road, according to Politico.
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