Last week, executives from BMW and Tesla Motors met to discuss electric-car strategy. The meeting generated plenty of buzz, and now a third, major player wants in.
The Financial Times (sub. required) reports that Nissan is meeting with the two luxury carmakers.
The Japanese carmaker has sold more electric cars than any company, ever. Tesla is currently the third highest-volume electric-car maker, and BMW has shown a serious commitment to electrification with its radical i3 city car. Could they be forming an electric-car Justice League?
The discussions reportedly centered on standards for DC fast charging. Each carmaker currently uses a different one: Nissan has CHAdeMO, Tesla has its own Supercharger, and BMW has the nascent Combined Charging Standard.
DC fast charging is, as the name says, a faster way to charge an electric car, but there are fewer stations available, and they’re split among the three standards.
They’re also unevenly distributed: Nissan and Tesla have worked to grow the networks of stations that work with their cars, but the newness of CCS (which will also be used by the other major German and U.S. carmakers) means finding one can be difficult.
Pooling resources could help create a more comprehensive network, and spread responsibility for maintaining it among the three companies.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently remarked that Tesla would let other carmakers use its Supercharger network if they contributed to the capital costs and subscribed to Tesla’s business model, under which Model S owners with Supercharging-capable cars can charge for free.
Tesla will open its patents to other carmakers, essentially inviting them to incorporate Supercharger capability into future models. Is it hoping for help expanding and maintaining the network in return?
If BMW and, more importantly, Nissan really do sign on with Tesla’s Supercharger standard, it could completely change the electric-car charging equation, unifying the interests of some of the segment’s biggest players.