California’s Electric Vehicle Charging for All Act would require Tesla to open its charging stations to all EV owners.
Tesla announced in February it will open some of its fast-charging stations by year-end 2024 for non-Tesla EV owners, but that’s not fast enough for many folks.
In California, where EVs were 19% of all new vehicles sold in 2022 (far higher than the national average of 6%), Tesla is the most dominant EV maker by far, though the state has 55 zero-emissions vehicle makers, more than any other state.
Tesla dominates California charging stations
But there’s a problem – Tesla owns and operates public fast-charging stations that are only compatible with its cars. In fact, Tesla has more than half of the 29,000 fast-charging stations in the U.S., 17,700. That’s not all: Tesla’s Supercharger stations tend to be more reliable and faster than networks used by non-Tesla drivers. Most public charging stations are 240-volt units, which take eight hours or so to fully power a battery pack, and some require memberships. (A comparison of EV charging networks, from ChargePoint, the nation’s biggest, to EVgo, is here.)
In addition, Tesla’s payment system is integrated within its cars, as its products are designed to work together, and doesn’t take credit cards. A trip from San Francisco to downtown Los Angeles in a Tesla takes eight hours, while the same trip in another EV takes nine hours, due to longer wait times
Tesla has agreed to open its charging stations
In February, Tesla agreed to let other EVs use its charging stations by the end of 2024. By then, drivers of other EVs can use 7,500 of Tesla’s charging stations in the U.S., which includes 3,500 Supercharger stations that take a mere half-hour to an hour to power a vehicle. (In its effort to battle climate change, the Biden White House wants to make EVs easier and more accessible to all, and set a goal to raise the percentage of EVs in new car sales to 50%, up from 6% last year.)
California lawmakers want Tesla’s charging stations to open sooner
But that’s not fast enough for some folks. In California, a lawmaker proposed a law last month that requires electric charging stations that charge a fee in the state to use universal connectors that all EVs can use. The Electric Vehicle Charging for All Act, AB-591, which would apply to new and retrofitted existing charging stations, also would require that all charging stations accept credit cards, not just apps. While Tesla is not mentioned by name, the bill’s language clearly refers to the company, noting charging stations must be accessible to all EV drivers, “not just luxury models the majority of Californians can’t afford.”
The bill, which needs approval from the entire state legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom, notes minority and low-income households suffer more from the effects of climate change, and benefit less from California’s clean transportation transition, than others, as they often live in districts with more air pollution and have fewer options than gas-powered vehicles. Interestingly, the bill’s sponsor, Los Angeles County State Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel is himself a Tesla Model 3 owner.
Ironically, Tesla allows its charging stations to be used by other EV drivers in Australia and Iceland. It has a similar pilot program underway in 14 countries in Europe, including Britain, Germany and France.
A handy EV California road trip planning tool compares four EVs – a luxury Tesla Model Y, a moderate-priced Chevy Bolt, near-luxury Polestar 2 and a Ford F-150 Lightning truck – their purchase prices, “green” scores, and their mile per gallon gasoline equivalents in both cities and on highways. (Called a MPGe, it measures a vehicle’s amount of electric energy consumption, which isn’t as simple as a miles per gallon for gas-using cars.) You can pick a starting and ending destination in the state in this cost-comparison tool developed by the San Francisco Chronicle, for example, from San Francisco to Tahoe, or Los Angeles to Yosemite. It’s based on cost per gallon of gas as of March 1 in California (an average of $4.79 statewide, which is higher than the rest of the country), starting your trip with a full tank in a car that holds 13 gallons, getting 24 miles per gallon and 2022 EV model prices.
Tesla’s like Apple in that its products work seamlessly together.