"We aim to be leaders in the industry - but we cannot drive the world’s change on our own"
Tesla’s mission has always been to drive the world’s transition to electro-mobility and sustainable transport. Last year at the Geneva Motor Show 2014 Tesla announced plans to further expand their Supercharger locations along with Tesla stores and service centers to enhance customer experience. Today they operate a growing charging network in central in northern Europe.
Tesla’s Supercharger network provides free connectors that charge the Tesla Model S in minutes instead of hours. Stations are strategically placed to minimize stops during long distance travel and are located along well-travelled highways and city centers. Responsible for the roll out of Supercharger in Europe is Jelle Vastert, Head of the Supercharger Program EU at Tesla Motors.
Mr. Vastert, Tesla Motors is building the Supercharger NETWORK in Europe at a high pace. What is your outlook for the next years?
Enable long distance driving on all major routes that are relevant for our growing customer base. We have widely publicized our mid-term plans, which include expanding south and east. Timing and exact locations may vary a bit, since there are many stakeholders involved and we do not control all time-lines. But the direction is very clear, as is our track record to deliver on these promises. We have grown the network 10-fold in the last 12 months, nearing 150 locations in Europe. Plus we continuously evaluate capacity at existing sites.
And yet, some people are concerned the driving range of electric vehicles isn’t enough to meet their needs, a problem known as range anxiety. What can be done to overcome fear?
It’s a real concern to prospective owners and thus it is really important. And foremost it needs to be met with good technological solutions. Cars that have batteries with sufficient range, and charging locations at the right places and with the right amenities and charging speeds that allow people care-free long distance driving when their planned trip exceeds the range of the car. The good thing is that these solutions are here, users are increasingly satisfied and enthusiastic and that is convincing other people. This all helps to counter the other part of this, which is that the perception of range anxiety is bigger than how people experience it in practice. This proves to be somewhat sticky but is being turned around.
Where do you see the biggest challenges in your mission to drive the transition to electromobility and EV charging infrastructure in Europe?
Charging in the public space and in shared parking garages is a challenge; basically where people park their car overnight. That is the backbone of scalable electric vehicle charging, and it’s not always made as easy for new owners of an EV as it should be. We see good initiatives in this space, but things could speed up always. Charging solutions to enable en-route charging need continued innovation, either in business model or in technology. We should always ask how solutions provide better experiences because we’re trying to get people to buy an EV as their next car. This is a dynamic space, our Supercharger roll-out has been instrumental so far in changing the perception
The race for offering compelling EV and Hybrids is in full speed amongst all OEMs. Where do you see Tesla positioned in this tight market?
The mission of Tesla is clear - to drive the worlds transition to electric mobility. We achieve this by offering increasingly affordable electric vehicles that offer a no compromises driving experience. This is a widely growing market segment, and will flourish with more customer choice - at Tesla we of course aim to be leaders in the industry but cannot drive the worlds change on our own. We are very confident in our ability to continue to come up with great products and welcome the larger movement towards electric mobility as an industry.
Mr. Vastert, thank you for your time.