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  • ⚡️ EVU Report: Tesla cuts whole charging team — 👎 PHEVs dirtier than promised — 🗺️ Google Maps new EV features

⚡️ EVU Report: Tesla cuts whole charging team — 👎 PHEVs dirtier than promised — 🗺️ Google Maps new EV features

Caution! High voltage! ⚡️

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Hey, Jaan here.

I’ll make sure I rant about something here before we continue to the actual EV news because, well, who am I to break old traditions?

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I should probably leave this to our Teslaverse issue this week, but since it’s so fresh…

All hell broke loose around Tesla’s Supercharging unit this week. 

It started with Tesla — well, all of it pointed at Elon of course — laying off Rebecca Tinucci and reportedly all of the ~500 Supercharging team.

Most of the team seems to have gotten the news, as usual, suddenly and in the middle of the night. The Internet went abuzz as it always does. Now, I’m going to state the obvious here:

We don’t have all the information and gameplan yet,
and can mostly just speculate until the dust settles.

The information itself surfaced from a leaked memo, obtained by Steve LeVine at The Information, and then covered by most media outlets. Musk himself seemed angry at the leaks (link).

We don’t yet know if the SuperCharger teams outside US was also affected — so far reports and the posts from people being laid off have come from the US (like this, this, this, this, this or this one).

There is one post from the Southeast Asia team (link, thanks Electric Felix), and one business owner in Australia saying that their Tesla contact said their upcoming site will not be built as the Tesla Supercharger team has been dissolved globally. We’ll validate if the latter is actually the case or not.

What we do know is that with its 57,579 global Supercharger connectors at 6,249 locations (per Q1 2024), the Supercharger Network has been the ultimate benchmark for quality across the industry. It is sad to see most of the team behind that very success laid off. I have no doubt they’ll land well.

P.S. If you’re one of the people affected, or a company looking to hire that talent that suddenly became available, I saw one of our readers — Lindsay Warren, the founder of Net Zero Evolution — decided to provide their recruiting / introduction services for free for this month, globally, for the former Tesla Supercharging team members. I love this effort. Learn more here (link) or write directly to Lindsay at lindsay@netzeroevolution(dot)com.

Elon says why (kind of)

Now, for the context: you’ll want to know what Musk said on a few different spots that you won’t see reported, to get his thinking. I gathered some here, with the main comment from Musk:

“Tesla still plans to grow the Supercharger network, just at a slower pace for new locations and more focus on 100% uptime and expansion of existing locations.”

— Elon Musk

Now, when someone put under question specific locations, like if Tesla will still build out the sites under construction like one at Kalispell MT for Glacier National Park access as they’d heard “active construction crews have no point of contact at Tesla any longer”, Musk says

It’s definitely going to open. Sites under construction will be completed and we will add additional Superchargers anywhere where there are gaps.

— Elon Musk

Now, going further into what’s behind this decision, we get a hint from one of the few posts Musk liked on this matter. It was this one from Alex Avoigt which, perhaps most importantly, notes that “It's very simple: he fires as many people as possible, and if everything is still working well, he hasn't fired enough.”

What we haven’t seen Musk acknowledge yet, at least publicly, is the immense work from the team that has gotten the SC network this far, and recognizing the people involved (as opposed to the recent comments thanking some of the exited higher roles).

Seems clear so far that the following SC team will be rehired/newly hired, on a smaller size, with a different focus. And the massive growth of the Supercharger network will be dialed down (also, sad to see and wondering if that is final).

It is also pretty clear that there is no need to panic about the complete downfall of the current Supercharging network. In the US, Tesla is several years ahead in size of every competitor and obviously leads in quality too.

This picture would be even more telling in the US, but here’s a quick look from BloombergNEF on how Tesla fares in Europe against competition.

If a demise of Tesla Supercharging network would happen because of these layoffs, I’d be the first to award Musk the dumbest-move-of-century award.

Supercharging as a business

Part of me wishes the Tesla Supercharging unit was already spun off as a standalone business — this way it had one goal even at this point: grow.

As a standalone business (not saying this can’t still be achieved), the Tesla Supercharger Network would/will still be wildly profitable — BNEF estimates that annual worldwide public-charging revenue by 2030 will be $127B, with Tesla to mop up $7.4B (5.8%) of all that business, taking home $740M in profits.

Their assumptions:

  • 280 kWh/day utilization (~1.4x of today?)

  • 180k chargers by 2030 (3.15x of today)

  • 10% profit margin (based on Elon's tweet from 2 yrs ago)

If you want to get a (much) closer look at how Tesla Supercharging has been operating and where it wins, I suggest watching the now-laid-off Rebecca Tinucci presentation from last year's Investor Day. (timestamped video) Plenty there to discover.

Questions in the air

All I know is that I know nothing.
Here are just a few questions and notes left in my mind over all of this:

→ How much industry-specific experience and knowledge will Tesla lose with these departures, or can/did it retain some?

→ Perhaps less important, but how much will this impact the perception of the public towards Tesla Superchargers (we all know how this chaos plays out in the media)?

→ Will this affect the rollout of NACS and Supercharger access for 3rd-party carmakers?
Bloomberg reports that other carmaker executives were worried about losing the contact with Tesla ahead of busy summer season, yet according to its sources also some of the Supercharger servicing team, which manages 3rd -party access to the network, remains intact.

→ Will this increase Tesla’s focus on selling its chargers to 3rd parties (like the deal with bp)? On the other hand, saw somewhere that also the people responsible for that deal were laid off…?

→ How long will the slowed-growth plans last, and will Tesla get back on the growth train in a few years once conditions ease?

→ Is this all a precursor of Tesla’s next move on wireless charging? We have been collecting hints like:

  • Tesla acqui-hiring the Wiferion wireless charging team (unclear if affected in the layoffs but doubtful)

  • Tesla showing a wireless charging pad on one of its slides, and Franz confirming they’re working on it in the Jay Leno video

  • Inductive charger connectors on the battery pack are shown in the Cybertruck service manual.

→ How happy is the rest of the charging industry that so much talent became available? Well I know the answer to that one.

Related: the former head of Supercharging in EMEA region, Jeroen van Tilburg, was just announced as the new CEO of IONITY.
I have no doubt Rebecca Tinucci will land in a top spot rather quickly too, especially considering her role in the NACS expansion. I bet IONNA is scooping up some of the people.

→ How many new startups in the charging and broader EV space will we see in the next years, that are spun up from the people laid off here, especially when including the ~10% of Tesla laid off mid-April?

I’ll leave you with a little note here that we should apply nearly everywhere these days: no, we are not all doomed. Now, let’s carry on, let the dust settle, and I’ll report back when we hear more.

Share: If you wish to share this “deep dive”, I made it available as a separate article here.

In case you missed it somehow: EV Universe (so… me 👋 ) has now published a full and freely accessible EV Sales Report for 2023, tracking 10,311,976 battery-electric vehicle sales across 57 countries. There are 4,000 words with insights into each country, graphs, and comparisons.

Here are my four favorite findings:

  1. EV sales grew 34.7% in 2023 compared to 2022, globally, to 10.3M.

  2. 16 countries more than doubled their EV sales, with some countries even growing over 700%.

  3. 10 countries recorded over 20% EV market share of all sales, with 6 countries over 30%. Wild.

  4. Only one country of the 57 saw a decrease in EV sales compared to 2022. And that was Norway, where EVs have won anyway.

The IEA Report: While I might present and dig around in the EV sales data in various ways, I am naturally no match in big picture to International Energy Agency, which now published its Global EV Outlook 2024 (174-page pdf).

Also check out their EV policy (and targets) tracker. If you want to dig deeper into the energy transition, they’ve also released the report Batteries and Secure Energy Transitions (159-page pdf).

Real-life PHEV data

This is the reason I cover battery-electric vehicles in the EV Universe, and exclude plug-in hybrids.

European Commission has now analysed the data from the on-board fuel consumption monitoring (OBFCM) devices which have been a requirement for new liquid-fuel cars and vans in EU since 2021. (link) (data)

One of the key finds for us was the confirmation of the general unsustainable real-life use of plug-in hybrids — the plug-in hybrids emit an average of 3.5x their official and publicly reported CO2 emissions. Great chart by T&E:

Since the data from devices is still relatively new and not all of the necessary fleet reports it yet, I’m all but certain we’ll receive a stronger confirmation for this soon.

That said, I do know a handful of people that treat their (long-range) PHEVs the way they should be used - almost all of their driving battery powered. I've seen that especially with early Chevy Volt drivers, and some Chrysler Pacifica PHEV drivers.

But this is, sadly, not the norm. And I believe we can’t expect it to ever become the norm.

Honda announced its (and its partners’) plans to invest CA$15B (US$11B) to set up an EV supply ecosystem in Ontario, Canada (link). This includes n 240,000 EV/year plant in Alliston, starting production in 2028, and a 36 GWh battery plant in the same location. As a joint venture, it’ll establish a separator plant with Asahi Kasei and a cathode active material and precursor (CAM/pCAM) plant with Posco.

Larger picture: Honda is converting three of its Ohio plants to produce EVs in 2026 and has plans to start producing batteries with LGES in a 40 GWh plant in Jeffersonville Ohio in 2025.

Toyota plans to invest $1.4B in its car plant in Princeton, Indiana, to build a new battery-EV there and assemble battery packs produced in its upcoming $13.9B North Carolina battery manufacturing plant set to start production in 2025. (link)

The EV will be a 3-row SUV, as recently also announced for Toyota’s Kentucky plant (link). Currently, the Highlander is built in Princeton… which is rumored to be their new electric model.

Volta Trucks resurrected: announces it will restart production of the 16- and 18-ton Volta Zero under its new owner Luxor Capital and will start deliveries in Europe by the end of the year (link).

The company targets producing 500 trucks in Steyr this year and 2,000 in 2025. Around 150 employees of the ~600 before insolvency filing seems to have remained. (Two more e-bus maker bankruptcy-then-acquisition news in our Pro Report this week, join here)

The US government has reimbursed auto dealerships for $580M in advance point-of-sale consumer EV tax credit payments since the start of 2024, with 90% qualifying EV buyers receive a $7,500 tax credit as an upfront payment.

China EVs → US: US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she would not rule out any measures, including potential tariffs, on China’s green energy exports. (link)

Mexican EVs → US: Meanwhile, Mexico, facing US pressure, will halt incentives to Chinese EV makers. (link) This will be interesting to see playing out. Will Mexico be able to become China EV inc’s hub into North America… or not?

Washington State launches a new point-of-sale EV incentive of $9,000 per vehicle for a 3+year lease ($5k on purchase or 2-year lease). $2.5k for used EV. (link) Note: certain limits on income apply.

Add that $9k to the $7.5k of the IRA tax credit and WA state waiving sales tax on the first $25k of the vehicle… brb moving to Washington state. Actually lived in Yakima for a whole summer once, loved it.

Our “EV Spotlight” and “Batteries & ♻️” section will return in the next newsletter, as I just couldn’t fit it in the email. More in our Pro Reports.

Google Maps rolls out new features for EV drivers (link), including

  • Optimized Route Planning: Google Maps will suggest the most efficient routes for EVs, considering the need for charging stops. Shows how much % is left when arriving etc.

  • Real-Time Charging Station Availability

  • Charging Station Details:  Google Maps provides detailed information about charging stations, including the types of plugs available, the speed of charging, and nearby amenities like grocery stores or cafes.

  • A new EV filter on Google Travel to find hotels with charging options.

In Europe, European Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) came into force, regulating, among other things, several requirements regarding payment options for newly deployed public charging points. Here is a good overview of the regulation (link), and the official FAQ (link)

Rivian says in its Q4 shareholder letter (link) that it plans to open up its Rivian Adventure Network to non-Rivian owners in the second half of 2024. The company also says it has reached over 400 chargers across 67 locations now, which in Q4 had an average uptime of 97%.

Rivian also released its new charger prototype, designed to support nearly all North American EVs, with a taller build and longer cable for different charging port locations. (link)

Tritium files for bankruptcy. (link) In an SEC filing, the company said Tritium and three of its Australian subsidiaries were either insolvent or likely to become insolvent.

Administrators are now taking control of Tritium’s assets and looking for buyers. Context: Tritium sold more than 13,000 DC fast chargers in more than 40 countries since 2012. Last year, the company announced closing its Brisbane, Australia factory and moving production to Tennessee, where it employed 500 people.

Study tip:

Stable Auto launched an overview of the average DC charging prices per state in the US. Check out their website for the interactive version of the data below (link).

Stable Auto also put together a great overview of the average US fast-charging station utilization per state.

They found that the average utilization of a US fast-charging station (the ones not operated by Tesla) more than doubled from 9% in January 2023 to 18% in December 2023. (link) On rough calculations, >15% utilization should mark the breakeven point for charging operators.

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See you real soon with more EV insights.

— Jaan ✌️ 

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