What Tesla’s Supercharger Cuts Could Mean For The NACS Revolution

By automotive-mag.com 8 Min Read

With Elon Musk at the helm, Tesla is the most mercurial automaker on earth—and certainly the most inscrutable, at least among automakers not from China. That’s why it’s so hard to figure out the logic behind these recent massive cuts to the Supercharger team, right as Tesla seemed poised to become even more of a charging superpower than ever before. 

Today on Critical Materials, we begin to examine the fallout from this extraordinary decision. Plus, we have more news about Stellantis’ electric push and why Toyota isn’t letting hydrogen go. Let’s dig in.

30%: Automakers Lose Their Point Of Tesla Contact, NACS Adapters Could Be Slower To Ship

As we reported yesterday, Musk’s decision to cut some 500 members of the Supercharging team—basically all of them—leaves EV owners, construction projects and even auto industry partners totally in the dark. Remember, the entire American auto industry is pivoting to Tesla’s North American Charging Standard plug—first with adapters and soon, natively—and eventually gaining access to that Supercharger network.

With all of those folks gone, the obvious question is: what now? Bloomberg illustrates the problem: 

There already are discussions about rehiring some of the people affected in order to operate the existing network and grow it at a much slower rate, the person said. In a post on X, Musk confirmed that Tesla will slow its expansion.

The job eliminations mean Rivian, Ford and others have lost their main points of contact in Tesla’s charging unit shortly before the kickoff of the busy summer driving season. [Director Rebecca] Tinucci was one of the main executives building and managing outside partnerships and was thought of highly, two people who had worked with her inside and outside of Tesla said.

[…] Rivian and Ford are both still shipping adapters to their customers, according to statements from the companies. Ford told its EV owners on Friday, before the elimination of the broader Tesla Supercharger team, that deliveries may be delayed in some cases due to supplier constraints.

Emphasis mine above. We’ve heard the same here at InsideEVs, including from an energy executive at another automaker who wished to remain anonymous. The point is, every car company and partner is at a loss here: left without Tesla contacts and thus struggling to work on network access and finalize the adapters that will allow that.

More to come from us today and in the coming weeks as we parse this one. And as always, if you were impacted by the Tesla cuts or have information to share, get in touch. We are happy to keep you anonymous or speak entirely off the record. 

60%: Stellantis, Jeep Have More EVs Coming Amid Revenue Slowdown

2024 Jeep Wagoneer S

Now, for the sake of your hardworking author’s mental health, let’s talk about something other than Tesla. How about Stellantis? Great, let’s do it. 

The American-Italian-French conglomerate, these days based in the Netherlands, reported a 12% decline in revenue in its first quarter. Blame tough interest rates, currency fluctuations and an aging product lineup at some of its 14 brands.

But don’t worry, CNBC reports. Stellantis has more coming soon:

The Netherlands-based company, whose brands include Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Peugeot, Citroën and Maserati, plans to launch a total of 25 new models this year, including 18 battery-electric vehicles.

The company debuted four models in the first quarter, with Knight saying this had set “the stage for materially improved growth and profitability in the second half of the year.”

Consolidated shipments fell by 10% to 1.335 million units in the quarter, which the company said reflected production actions and inventory management to prepare for the “new product wave” in the second half.

Like many in the auto industry, Stellantis is juggling its ambitious commitment to the electric transition — pledging that BEVs will account for 100% of its sales in Europe and 50% of those in the U.S. by the end of the decade — with supply chain challenges and questions over consumer demand and the readiness of charging infrastructure.

Additionally, the all-new, all-electric Jeep Wagoneer S will make its public debut in New York at the end of this month. We’ll be there to cover it. Maybe it will drive through a giant plate-glass window. Or is that more of a Detroit thing? 

90%: Toyota’s Next Move For Hydrogen

Toyota Hydrogen Headquarters LA

We know that Toyota’s hydrogen push has not gone very well on the passenger car side of things. But Toyota’s technology and research in this area are both quite advanced, so it’s not calling it quits. Far from it; the automaker just established a giant new R&D and commercialization facility in Los Angeles that it calls H2HQ. Clever!

The facility will especially focus on commercial applications for hydrogen fuel cells, including heavy trucking, shipping, and construction vehicles, Automotive News reports today: 

The North American headquarters will lead hydrogen initiatives across sectors, including passenger cars, heavy-duty trucks, stationary fuel cell power generation and port vehicle applications.

The automaker has used fuel cell technology developed for its Mirai car to find other applications, such as trucks. It has conducted much of the work across several research centers in the U.S.

Toyota has used the Southern California port complex to test fuel cell trucks in a partnership with Paccar, the Kenworth and Peterbilt truck brand owner. Toyota has an agreement to provide Paccar with fuel cell stacks built at a Toyota factory in Kentucky.

Kenworth is offering the fuel cell-powered electric drivetrain in its T680 truck. The tractor, according to Kenworth, has a range of up to 450 miles, depending upon driving conditions, and 415 hp to pull a gross weight of up to 82,000 pounds. 

Even if the Mirai program has had its slew of problems, I don’t think H2 should be counted out entirely, especially for applications outside of passenger cars. I’m excited to see what Toyota cooks up here.

100%: What Is The EV Market Without Tesla?

Okay, fine, we’ll go back to Tesla for the moment, my sanity be damned.

As we’ve reported, it seems readily apparent that Musk has lost interest in Tesla as a carmaker. Instead of new models, more and better Supercharging and furthering rollouts of things like 800V architectures, Tesla is pivoting to robotaxis and AI. Bless their hearts, as we say where I’m from.

But this does raise an important question: if Tesla has a focus on things outside of EVs, and the EV market is slowing down somewhat, what happens without Tesla in the broader EV market and who drives it? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

Contact the author: [email protected]

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