Preserving the Environment

Is Tesla’s New Idea the Foundation for an American E-Car Infrastructure?

June 12, 2014
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Is Tesla’s New Idea the Foundation for an American E-Car Infrastructure?
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
This tech visionary's selfless move could have a lasting impact on the environment — and the economy of electric cars.

As a child, sharing is one of the most valuable lessons you learn. But as adults, the generous act often goes by the wayside.

But not with Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and one of Silicon Valley’s most famous leaders. Musk is taking a bold and unconventional step by offering to share the technology behind his Superchargers — the fast-charging, plug-in stations for his company’s electric vehicles (EV) — with the competition, according to TechCrunch.

Opening up the Supercharger design would allow competing EV models to power up using a Tesla network that already spans the country. His only requirement?  That the other auto companies embrace his free power for life model rather than charging drivers after each use. They’d also have to chip in with maintenance costs for the stations, which remains minimal.

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The hope is that one standard would be used across the entire industry, making it easier for companies to buy into EV development by eliminating one of the barriers to entry. As Musk told the BBC: “We don’t want to cut a path through the jungle and then lay a bunch of landmines behind us.”

None of this should come as any surprise, since Musk has gained a reputation for doing things differently, earning the ire of the auto industry in the process. (Just ask Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia, which have all instituted bans on the electric vehicle venture for bypassing car dealerships in favor of selling directly to consumers.)

The move reveals that Musk’s priorities also lay more in ensuring the success of the nascent EV industry as whole rather than in any narrowly defined interests of his company. As government infrastructure spending has lagged, and we’ve seen only incremental large-scale action on climate change (an issue close to Musk’s heart), this announcement could be an important step in combatting the latter and putting America on the path toward a more sustainable energy future.

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