Daimler AG has joined Robert Bosch in questioning a decision by Tesla Motors Inc.'s to build a network of so-called "supercharger" stations in Germany that only serve to the EV maker's products. "The future [of an electric charging infrastructure] lies in standardization,” Thomas Weber, Daimler's r&d chief, told Automobilwoche.
“As with gas stations, we need a charging system for all manufacturers, not least because it reduces the cost of the infrastructure, but it is also more convenient for customers.” In January, Tesla and Deutsche Bahn opened four charging stations between Munich in the south and Cologne in the northeast, allowing Tesla drivers to fast charge their batteries in just 30 minutes.
The stations are part of network of 14 Tesla charging points situated across Europe. According to Tesla, while its Model S EV could travel up to 500km on a single charge, its appeal with customers has been hurt by the limited charging infrastructure in Europe. Bosch chief executive Volkmar Denner has told Automobilewoche that it wouldn't make economic sense if every car manufacturer built its own charging system, noting that "the technology exists for a Europe-wide charging network; we just need to want to implement it."
Daimler and BMW have focused on offering small EVs targeted towards city commuters instead of vehicles that could go on longer journeys. Daimler, which holds 4.3-percent stake in Tesla, builds the Smart ForTwo EV and the Mercedes-Benz B-class EV, which both use electric motors and batteries provided by Tesla.
A spokeswoman for Tesla said in January that the EV maker plans to expand its charging network in Germany this year to enable drivers to reach destinations in half of the country. Germany is itself targeting to have 1 million electric cars plying on its roads by 2020, although some in the industry quip more should be done to attract buyers to zero-emission vehicles like providing a cash incentive similar to those offered in the United Kingdom and France.