In its Q2 2021 earnings report, Tesla recorded a profit of $1.1 billion, excluding the sales of emission credits to other automakers or sales made through Bitcoin. The bulk of its vehicle sales were made up of its Model Y and Model 3 EVs, which sold a combined 200,000 units in the last quarter –indicating a demand for more affordable EVs among automotive consumers.
On the day of the report’s release, Tesla also provided updates on some of its future products, including the Semi truck and its new battery cells. The OEM confirmed that its heavy-duty, all-electric truck has been delayed to 2022. While Tesla confirmed that the truck is ready to enter production, doing so now would severely limit the supply of its 4680 battery cells. It is these new cells that are crucial to the production of the forthcoming and Cybertruck and Model Y. The Model Y is still on track to enter production before the end of 2021 at Tesla’s gigafactories in Austin and Berlin, while production on the Cybertruck will follow at the Austin plant.
These updates follow the announcement that Tesla will open its Supercharger network up to non-Tesla EVs before the end of 2021. The announcement was made on Twitter by the automaker’s CEO, Elon Musk, who confirmed that the process would begin later this year and eventually expand to Tesla’s Supercharger stations around the world. While this reveal initially provided no information as to how non-Tesla drivers would access or benefit from the network, Musk has now confirmed that Tesla’s smartphone app will facilitate the Supercharger user experience for them.
In the Q2 2021 earnings call, Musk explained that users would make an account with the app using their personal details and credit card information. After this, when approaching a station on the Supercharger network, the user would be able to connect the app to that station, accept the price, and unlock it. While Musk did not provide an estimated charging cost for a non-Tesla user using the Supercharger network, he did confirm that time-based pricing would be used in these scenarios. This is a different pricing model to what is currently offered to Tesla owners, where the price is determined per kWh of charging.
While this plan seems promising, there is a potential obstacle for North America users of this new service. This is because many third-party electric vehicles in the continent support the CCS1 DC fast-charging connector type, which is presently incompatible with Tesla’s Supercharger stations. As such, to access the network, non-Tesla drivers would have to buy or use a suitable adapter to successfully connect their CCS1 charging cable to a Supercharger station. While this obstacle will be faced by many early adopters, Musk anticipates that such an adapter could be made available for use at Tesla’s charging stations. Neither Musk nor Tesla gave a specific date as to when the Supercharger network would be opened up for third-parties.
It is clear that Tesla’s future is equal parts promising and ambitious – with plans to deliver EVs in several verticals and broaden the scope of its Supercharger network, enabling more users to benefit from it. However, in executing these plans, a degree of caution must be taken not to exhaust its limited supply of resources or hinder the customer experience.
In the previously mentioned earnings call, Musk acknowledged that the semiconductor shortage remained a serious issue for Tesla. Likewise, while opening its Supercharger network to third-party EVs will provide drivers with more locations to charge their vehicles, the pricing model involved could contribute to the fragmentation of the charging market and be a cause for customer confusion. As such, to renew the success it has seen in the past quarter, it is crucial for Tesla to deliver its product roadmap in a way that carefully balances supply and demand to avoid the risk of further delays. It is also essential for the OEM to provide a satisfactory charging experience to the wider consumer base it could gain from enabling third-party access to the Supercharger network.