Chart: Tesla’s EV charging lead isn’t going anywhere

The EV pioneer is facing more and more competition when it comes to car sales, but its lead in EV fast-charging hasn’t budged in several years.
By Eric Wesoff

  • Link copied to clipboard

Tesla had a disappointing quarter with its first EV sales decline in almost four years, but while inventory and pricing trends are not currently in Tesla’s favor, it does appear to have at least one sustainable advantage: its fast-charging network. 

Competitors may be starting to erode Tesla’s dominance in EVs, but its fast-charging advantage is holding firm.

The pioneering automaker has a larger fast-charging network in the U.S. than all of its competitors combined, according to a recent Bloomberg report. Its share of fast chargers has essentially plateaued at above 60 percent for the last four years, according to Alternative Fuels Data Center data analyzed by Michael Thomas at Distilled. That leaves its nearest rivals — EVgo, ChargePoint, Electrify America and Blink Charging — fighting over the remainder.

Public charging comes in two basic flavors: slow Level 2 (L2) charging, which you’ll find at malls and grocery outlets, and direct-current fast charging (DCFC), which is used on highways for rapid refueling. About 150,000 L2 and DCFC plugs are now in service across the United States, according to McKinsey, up from 53,000 plugs five years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Only about 20 percent are DC fast-chargers.

Pure-play EV charger firms have long struggled to find a viable path to profitability. While the Inflation Reduction Act provides a tax credit for building EV charging stations in low-income or non-urban areas and the Department of Transportation is deploying $5 billion in funding for building charging stations, construction subsidies do not a long-term business strategy make.

Tesla’s distant competitors ChargePoint, EVgo and Blink Charging raised capital on public markets, only to watch their stock prices crumble like a crouton in the last year.

But the charging market, as with the EV market overall, is still in early, dynamic days.

Tesla is opening its Supercharger network to other EV makers, starting on a limited basis. In July of last year BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis announced plans to invest at least $1 billion in a project that will deploy 30,000 charging ports on highways and in urban locations in Canada and the U.S.

And although some EV producers are struggling, non-Tesla EV firms saw their sales increase by 33 percent, according to Kelly Blue Book. Ford, Kia, Hyundai and Cadillac have all reported strong growth in recent EV sales, though they sell far fewer EVs than Tesla does.

EV sales overall are starting to gain traction in the U.S. Fully electric models represented 7.6 percent of all new passenger cars sold in the U.S. in 2023, per Cox Automotive, up from around 6 percent in 2022. The Biden administration has a goal of 50 percent by 2030.

It should come as no surprise that Tesla, once the only game in town, is losing some ground to major auto OEMs and EV aspirants. Its fast-charger network might offer more of a sustained lead. 

Eric Wesoff is editorial director at Canary Media.