We soon will have common chargers.
On the road and at home, they are for our cars and cell phones.
Like me, you may have decided not to purchase an EV because the manufacturer had no national charging network. Low on power during a long trip, your vehicle might need unavailable resuscitation. Wired tells us that this year, a whopping 21 percent of non-Tesla EV owners were unable to use a public charging station successfully.
By contrast, just 4 percent of Tesla owners had public charging failures, Owners of Tesla vehicles can get a speedy charge at home or while traveling hundreds of miles. From their car, drivers can identify one of Tesla’s 17,000 (or so) charging stations and remotely check for open stalls. Arriving at the station, typically with no queue, they plug in, wait 15 minutes, and drive off.
With other automakers, it’s the Wild West.
Recognizing the problem, Ford and GM announced that they are adopting the Tesla charging technology. Ford’s CEO said his company’s EVs would come with adapters for using Tesla superchargers, and that by 2025, they would be built in the vehicle. As a result, we could be on the way to a common (Tesla) charger network. Fully aware of the possibility, Tesla named its plug the North American Charging Standard.
In the EU also, we are moving toward a common charger. But here, it is with cell phones.
During June 2009, knowing there were 30 being sold, the EU requested industry acceptance of a common charger. They got 10 companies, including Apple, Samsung, and Nokia– to agree, and, at the end of 2010, issued the Micro-USB standard design. The EU expected the shared technology would be predominant in 2012. When the deal expired in 2014, it was not,
It took until now for them to announce a mandate. Last Fall, the EU told us that the deadline for their USB Type-C common charger was the end of 2024 for mobile phones, tablets, and cameras. and Spring 2026, for all laptops.
Our Bottom Line: Friction
Through EV charging stations and cell phone USB chargers, and a list of products that include railroad track and VCR formats, we enjoy the benefits of standardization. But perhaps the one word to remember is friction.
In physics, friction slows movement. In economics it slows transactions. Whether looking at car chargers and cell phone chargers, or standardized railroad track, or VCRs with the same tapes, standardization meant less friction. With chargers, it’s easy to see why the customers experienced less friction. Moving to the supply side, standardized railroad track made a huge difference for freight and people.
I guess we all want less friction in our lives…and fewer wires!
My sources and more: To find out more about Tesla’s charging network, Wired is handy source. Then, Medium had the interesting VCR format war story and we told the EU charger saga and track standardization in a past econlife.
Please note that several of today’s sentences were in a past econlife post.