Tesla Motors Inc. Is Leaving Big Energy in the Dust

Source: Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors  (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) is taking the automotive industry by storm -- but that's not all. Some of the largest energy corporations around are kicking themselves for not investing earlier in one of the electric-vehicle maker's smartest moves. Here's what you need to know.

If you build it, they will come

Source: Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors, is building more than cars -- it's building a support system to overthrow the entire way we conceive of getting from Point A to Point B. The key: electric-vehicle charging stations. Tesla Motors knows it's up against a century-old status quo of gas guzzlers, so the company is doing everything in its power to ease consumers' switching costs.

While technological improvements are enabling Tesla drivers to go further on faster charges, the company's massive network of Supercharger stations is what truly sets it apart, and what energy companies wish they'd cashed in on earlier.

At what is dubbed "the fastest charging station on the planet," Tesla owners can charge their vehicles at more than 10 times the rate of public charging stations. With 84 stations open across the nation, Tesla drivers can now make a full American road trip without needing a single drop of gas. Just check out the video below for proof.

It's all about infrastructure
In a recent survey, 527 utility professionals offered surprising thoughts on Tesla's major infrastructure advances. Only 17% of those surveyed said there isn't an opportunity for utilities to deploy electric-vehicle charging stations, while 46% said they utilities are missing out on the opportunity. It's not hard to understand why. Here's a map of Tesla Motors' 84 current stations:

Source: Tesla Motors 

But by the end of 2015, the United States of America is going to look more spotted than a three-year-old with chickenpox. Ninety-eight percent of the entire U.S. population will be Tesla-able:

Source: Tesla Motors

Perhaps the survey's most shocking number is the 37% of utility professionals who responded that "[u]tilities are not and will not miss the [electric-vehicle charging station] opportunity." Unless energy companies have super-secret plans they're not telling anyone about, their current grand total of 147 stations doesn't come close to Tesla Motors' plans.

If you look at the geographic spread, it's easy to see that utility companies aren't concerned with nationwide access. While Tesla wants drivers across every state, energy companies are currently playing to their strengths. Sorry, Washington state, Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Tennessee, Maine, and many others -- utilities have yet to put a single station in your state

It takes two (hundred stations) to tango
With more than 200 stations expected for 2015, Tesla Motors is gearing up for massive growth. And while utilities are collectively sitting on billions in cash, they're either bureaucratically unable or unwilling to go where this electric-vehicle maker is going. Ironically, Tesla seems less afraid of infrastructure investments than the corporations that lit up America -- and they're paying a pretty price in lost profit.

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Read/Post Comments (15) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2014, at 1:53 PM, smauney wrote:

    that's adorable.

  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2014, at 2:53 PM, gjsuhr wrote:

    Hard to make a lot of money when you are giving power away for free.....as Tesla is.

  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2014, at 3:00 PM, Capt601 wrote:

    gjushr. guess you don't know Tesla charges $2500 for supercharger access to cars below 85 kWh level. so they are making money. same will be true for Model X and E. and eventually most will have solar panels, providing more power back to grid than is taken.

    also, you do realize 99% of superchargers are between cities, so only used for highway travel. so they are not used all of the time. many may not be used for hours or days before a car pulls up.

    $2500 is very cheap to give power away when they are selling true EV's. makes the car usable for 100% of the population.

  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2014, at 4:06 PM, gogopoker wrote:

    was looking at that map and wondering. could the model X pull a small rv trailer? if so i could see retired folks buying that and then you could drive all over the country for free.

  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2014, at 4:25 PM, dimestop wrote:

    NEWS ARTICLE INDICATES TESLA IS PLANNING TO BUILD A "SUPERCHARGER" NETWORK IN CHINA...

    ALSO...NOTICE TESLA LARGELY DEFIED ANOTHER BIG MKT DOWNTURN and recovered to within .32 cents (up about 5 dollars off it's lows...)

    it did the "best of the high-flyers" to weather a couple big days of DOW AND NAZ DOWNTURN...etc.

    here's A BIG REASON WHY... LOOK AT THIS....

    GET WITH "REALITY SHORTS" HERE IT IS AGAIN:

    JUST GOOGLE THIS:

    images of china expressway between major cities

    then click on the URL with the images... AND YOU'LL GET AN IDEA OF "CHINESE EXPRESSWAYS"...between major cities... and WHY ELON WILL BE BUILDING "SUPERCHARGER STATIONS" THERE...

    AND LOADS OF "RICH CHINESE WILL BE BUYING TESLA S... as fast as Elon can MAKE 'EM....

  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2014, at 5:25 PM, timlonely wrote:

    @gogopoker: A Tesla X has two electric motors and a lot of torque. I'm sure Tesla designed the X to grab market share from SUV to minivan and they will offer a towing package like they offer a sub-zero weather package in specific markets. A Toyota Highlander doesn't have the horse power or torque of a X but the Highlander can tow 5000 lbs. So I don't see why Tesla will neglect that market that many SUV owners require.

  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2014, at 9:14 PM, Ustauber wrote:

    ThxTsla

  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2014, at 9:34 PM, JRUwing wrote:

    @gjsuhr -"Hard to make a lot of money when you are giving power away for free.....as Tesla is."

    You obviously don't get it. Tesla can license the use of the charging stations to other car companies who will desperately need the infrastructure. It is genius actually. They are low cost to build and the solar energy is stored in batteries on site.

  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2014, at 10:03 PM, gskinner75006 wrote:

    Big energy is already making the money they currently require from the Tesla charging stations without spending a dime. Now when Tesla starts building power plants and the supporting infrastructure, that's another story.

  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2014, at 10:50 AM, hurrya1 wrote:

    It's commendable that Tesla is building so many charging stations, it will be even better if these stations can be used by other electric cars like the Nissan Leaf. I am sure Tesla can work out a payment method for non Tesla customers, the cost for a charge is not that big, a 10 KwH costs less than $1.50 in most states and since the Tesla Station uses PV solar the cost is even less. The Nissan Leaf uses the standard J1772 connector, Tesla uses in some cases the proprietary High Power Wall Connector.

    Some companies like ChargePoint are also building EV charging stations, so no one is waiting for the utilities.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 7:59 AM, ToddRLockwood wrote:

    Tesla has made a classic end-run maneuver around other potential charging station providers with its "free charging" strategy. By including the cost of its charging infrastructure in the cost of its vehicles, Tesla has removed third-party providers from the equation. The electricity Tesla's stations consume is largely generated using solar installations which Tesla owns.

    The only reason a Tesla owner would bother using a third party charger is when it's the only option. With it's 265-mile rated range, the Tesla Model S makes local charging stations irrelevant. Owners simply charge every night in their own garage--often using rooftop solar systems to do so. While the free Superchargers are a nice perk, most Tesla owners rarely use them. So the $2,000 that's factored into each vehicle for Supercharging is unlikely to be exceeded by the energy a typical owner consumes at the Superchargers.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 12:40 PM, Capt601 wrote:

    @hurray1. Tesla will eventually allow others to charge at the superchargers for free, but first thing is others have to build a car that had the range to get to a supercharger. The leaf cannot at this point. And most likely will not. Also, don't think it can handle the charge output from a supercharger. And why would tesla, want another car to charge slower than its own cars taking up space using the charger for longer.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2014, at 10:03 AM, damilkman wrote:

    Overlooked is it still takes too long to charge. Sit at a gas station and observe who spends 30 minutes there to fill up much less fill up half way. If I had 100K to burn on a Tesla I would probably buy one to. As a FOOL every extra 1K I spend on an automobile that does depreciate to nothing is one less K I get to use for investing. When an EV gets down to 25K I'll take a look.

    I will agree with others it is silly for utilities to get in this market. Telsa's deal for people to sign up to use their stations means that if given a choice they would never want to pay extra to use a utility station. My guess is Tesla is also selling for a loss because buyers are willing to buy for 30K plus base price. That is beyond my comprehension that someone would pay more in extras then I would in a car.

  • Report this Comment On April 17, 2014, at 10:53 AM, jack01010 wrote:

    and does the electricity come from the sky? no, its made by big energy, at big power stations

  • Report this Comment On April 17, 2014, at 11:28 PM, tombland wrote:

    @jack01010: Tesla's Supercharger network is in the process of being converted to be fully solar powered, with battery storage – so yes, the electricity will "come from the sky".

    http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

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