Tesla charging stations will strain under GM, Ford deal

After the GM and Ford deals, Tesla will have to double its Supercharger network in under three years or risk owner backlash

If Tesla wants to maintain its Supercharger network’s reputation, it’s got some work to do.

The automaker has recently agreed to open a large portion of its chargers to Ford and GM starting next year. The move promises to bolster Tesla’s bottom line as it begins to monetize a costly capital investment, but it also risks upsetting existing and future owners, who will soon have to contend with more competition for charging space.

Currently, Tesla drivers can charge at the largest and most well-distributed network in the U.S that utilizes some of the sleekest hardware and technology. Given Tesla’s total fleet size in the U.S., there are only about 80 cars competing for any given charging stall. That low number has meant that wait times are usually minimal to nonexistent. (Holidays and weekends at high-traffic locations are exceptions, of course.) Tesla’s vehicle-charger ratio is more than twice as good as its competitors combined.

But the Ford and GM deals throw those numbers into doubt by opening more than 12,000 Supercharger stalls out of the 19,210 that Tesla has installed to date. Both GM and Ford have a large number of EVs on the road today — about 120,000 and 90,000, respectively — and they have plans to ramp up North American production significantly.

Tesla owners will likely begin to feel some pain next year. Given GM and Ford’s production targets, it’s likely that the two automakers will put nearly a quarter million more EVs on the road this year and nearly three-quarters of a million next year. By 2025, they could potentially be selling a combined 1.5 million EVs annually. That would bring their combined EV fleet to somewhere between 2.5 million to 3 million vehicles by 2025.

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