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Tesla’s Open Architecture Play: Capitulation or Manipulation?

Tesla Inc., a pioneer in the electric vehicle (EV) industry, made huge headlines with its decision to open its charging infrastructure to competitors, sparking intrigue about CEO Elon Musk’s motivations and Tesla’s long-term goals. Are they truly committed to carbon reduction or are they, like many other big tech firms, motivated by something more self serving? We’ve been mulling this question, and here’s where our internal debate is shaking out!

The Positives of Tesla’s Standardization Play

Tesla’s been paving the way to a robust Supercharger network for years, and it serves as a testament to the company’s commitment to EV expansion. We all know that the lack of standardized charging infrastructure has seriously hampered the growth of the electric vehicle market, as access to confident charging locations is consistently cited as a reason to hold off on an EV purchase.

Tesla’s decision to open its Supercharger network to competitors aims to address this issue. By establishing a shared platform, Tesla encourages other automakers to produce EVs compatible with the Supercharger network, and this cooperative approach promotes interoperability, simplifies the charging experience for consumers, and highlights the importance of collaboration to aid in the adoption of electric vehicles. Awesome, right? Also, by fostering standardization, Tesla is promoting collaboration amongst ‘frenemies’ and can simplify the charging process for ALL EV owners.

The Darker Side May Be in the Data

Beyond providing charging services, Tesla’s Supercharger network acts as a valuable source of data. Each time a vehicle charges at a Supercharger station, Tesla collects critical information on charging patterns, user behavior, and energy consumption. By opening access to competitors, Tesla seriously expands its data pool, which can be used to help refine charging technology and optimize network efficiencies for all. The question is, however, can this data be used for Tesla’s own internal advantage? Of course it can.

Tesla’s charging cables feature data port holes alongside the larger electricity-transfer holes. These charging ports allow Tesla to gather additional information from EVs, supplementing the data collected through cellular and Wi-Fi connections. By allowing competitors like Ford Motor Co. and General Motors to use its chargers, Tesla gains access to valuable data from their vehicles and owners. In addition to charging patterns and user behavior, this includes demographic insights and technical data, which can be leveraged for purposes such as selling data to utility companies and optimizing charging station locations. It can also be used to pinpoint competitor  product weaknesses or potential market advantages.

Like Many Things, the Outcome Remains to Be Seen

Tesla’s decision to grant competitors access to its charging infrastructure encompasses both data-driven advantages and a commitment to standardization. It enables collaboration and facilitates the broader adoption of electric vehicles. Sure, the move solidifies Tesla’s  position as a leader in the EV market and, by expanding its data pool, Tesla can help them refine their own tech. 

However, looking at the history of Amazon, Apple, Google and others before them, no one can counter the fact that  ’data is the new oil’. Is this a move of altruism or a fox entering the hen house? Time will tell!

What are your thoughts?

By evee Life Contributor

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