Why didn't Mary Barra work with Tesla for Supercharger capability?

Why didn't Mary Barra work with Tesla for Supercharger capability?

With Tesla offering its patents ,associated technology and use (sharing in ) of Superchargers to its competition, makes me wonder why someone like GM didn't approach Tesla and work out a partnership to make the Bolt Supercharger capable to allow long distance travel, hence increase the transition to sustainable transport.
I'd like to hear Mary Barra's response to why GM didn't accept Tesla's open policy to be part of the Supercharger access and continued build out. That would have helped the Bolt's sales and helped the transition to electric cars.

Nexxus | 15 April, 2016

@David N

You're not getting GM's big picture here: They don't want EV's to be successful. They are building the Bolt as a compliance vehicle (only offering 30,000/year to meet the CAFE regulations). They want to maintain their dealerships with ICE vehicles that make money for them. EV's won't make them as much. If they were serious about EV's they would offer an unlimited amount based on demand. They won't do that and cannibalize their other suto sales. They owe their fealty to the gas and oil companies they started together with over 100 years ago. They just can't remove themselves from the old style of thinking.

PFP | 15 April, 2016

Cuz GM doesn't play well with others. Look at Lutz. They want it their way. That SAE combo thingy. They just want to stay in control of all facets of it so they can wring more money out of their customers. Also without a long distance network, they can keep people in ICE cars. More parts to sell. more repairs to make. More Oil Producers to satisfy.

carlk | 15 April, 2016

Because GM plan to sell only 30K car a year and likely at a loss. There is no incentive for it to spend more and to make the car more desirable. BTW if you have not noticed it yet the purpose of that 200 mile range is not to help sell more cars but an attempt to slap Tesla on the face for PR purposes. It failed miserably. GM realized now that it is no match for the Tesla brand for good reasons.

jordanrichard | 15 April, 2016

also, that 200 is not 200 EPA miles. They haven't certified it yet and this car is supposed to be on the road in at the most 7 months. I don't think I am alone here, but I believe Tesla, that the M≡ will be at least 215 EPA miles.

So I can only imagine that GM is trying to figure out a fairy tale condition in which to get an EPA rated 216 miles.

David, they don't want their customers to see that there is no need to buy another gas GM product. Additionally, Elon has said that in order for another car to use the superchargers, they have to be able to handle the power.

Red Sage ca us | 15 April, 2016

None of the traditional automobile manufacturers want to lend any credibility to Tesla Motors. That is part of why both Toyota and Daimler divested in TSLA. Any of them accepting the Supercharger network as a standard would be an admission of its superiority and necessity.

jordanrichard | 15 April, 2016

Red Sage +1. Each company, particularly the Germans and GM, like to make themselves out as the leader in X, Y, Z. When in reality Tesla is leading with the S, X and ≡.

Much of this has to do with saving face.

Rocky_H | 15 April, 2016

@Red Sage, +1
Yep, that is the real reason. It's based in arrogance. They must maintain that they are "the big boys", and Tesla is a pipsqueak. If they acknowledged that Tesla had something real that they needed, that would be a huge humbling move for them, and they cannot stand to legitimize Tesla that way.

carlk | 15 April, 2016

@Red Sage

+1. They have to do what they have do because Tesla forced their hands. What they really want to see is Tesla and this EV thing just die. They absolutely will not want to help Tesla to survive. The Toyota and Mercedes deals are great examples. They pulled off from Tesla soon as they realized it could be a threat to their business.

Red Sage ca us | 15 April, 2016

Again, I do not work at Tesla Motors... But I believe that Toyota and Mercedes-Benz each thought they could marginalize Tesla... Thought they could throw their weight around... Get things their way... Were certain they would be able to convince them to make battery packs and electric motors to be used in their hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell cars... Make them a sort of boutique brand under their own... That the little company would be happy to get guaranteed contracts and checks that would clear simply for having a little badge that read 'Powered by TESLA' (about the same size/shape as the old 'LOTUS Tuned Suspension' decals) on cars built by larger companies... Because, after all, it's just good business sense and it's all about thge money, right? Wow. I'd love to see a picture of the looks on their faces when Elon said, "No. We aren't going to do that."

Octagondd | 15 April, 2016

Just by referencing Tesla and taking a stab at them, they have shown the world that Tesla is a legitimate threat. You don't take pot shots at something that you don't think is a threat. They are very afraid that not only is the ICE Age over for their top end vehicles, which produce the most profit, but now they have to catch up to Japan and Korea in competing with the bottom of the market where profit margins are very slim. The price of gas will remain low as the sustainable energy market grows and the Arab nations continue to flood the market to stop more energy exploration. The only people buying ICE vehicles will be the low end market.

Octagondd | 15 April, 2016

High schools should start moving ICE Auto shop classes towards EV repair and High Voltage safety.

Red Sage ca us | 15 April, 2016

Octagondd: +1! A superb idea! I always thought that Science and Shop classes should be taught in tandem.

carlk | 15 April, 2016


You are right on the analysis. And Elon welcomed it when he heard GM is to make the 200 mile EV.

mbb | 15 April, 2016

Maybe GM is doing the rational thing. Bolt is a longer range EV targeting daily local driving for multiple car families. For trips, you can always take your ICE SUV. GM has a lot of market pressure and they can't afford a lot of risk. So why not build a low volume EV that gets them a lot of publicity and not lose a lot of money?

carlk | 15 April, 2016

Making the Bolt a 200 miles range EV made me think the whole GM exercise is just a PR stunt. The reasonning is below: Unlike Tesla GM does not have Li battery production capacity in the near future. It has to buy limited quantity batteries at a pretty high cost from LG. GM could very well to make 40,000 150 mile range Bolt, which should still be enought to sell those cars, instead of 30,000 200 mile range ones if it's from pure business consideration. What it wanted to achieve, even at a lost, is to tell the world that it has beaten Tesla in the game and they were not shy of doing that. Too bad that they picked a wrong opponent and it backfired on them. No one would have laughed at GM if it was just announcing a 150 mile EV that beats the Leaf.

ColoDriver | 15 April, 2016

In many ways GM is doing a rational thing, very much like Nissan, Toyota, BMW and the other big makers that have a somewhat battery powered vehicle: slowly diving more deeply into the full BEV world. Start with a hybrid, go to a PHEV, maybe an EV with a range extender and finally a full EV. (Although GMs EV-1 just went for it back in the 80s).

The established automakers aren't about disrupting their existing markets. The smarter makers are preparing for the day when an upstart like Tesla causes a shift and they can be ready. But until that day, and the Model 3 is pushing it closer, they would prefer to keep things as they are.

As Go_Peddle_4_me said in the first reply "They don't want EV's to be successful." Cars like the Bolt show that GM may not want EVs to be successful, but they fear someday they will.

DonS | 15 April, 2016

Pride in ignoring Tesla's superior charging solution, and cost of buying into Tesla's Supercharger network.

archvillain | 15 April, 2016

GM is serious about electric - the Volt was a very serious and elegant attempt to make a mainstream affordable EV that addresses American's range anxiety. That it wasn't the big success they hoped for doesn't mean they're not serious. Perhaps the lukewarm demand has cooled them on moving to electric too quickly, but they (or at least parts of the company) sees the writing on the wall and is trying to get ahead of the game.
Tesla sets a blistering pace however.

SamO | 15 April, 2016

Painful to watch these companies flail.

Supercharging is ESSENTIAL to the success of Tesla. Tesla would not be selling their cars right now without developing their owned walled garden for charging.

Superchargers are fast and free.

Destinations Chargers are quick and free (to patrons).

The other charge networks require apps and codes and cards. Figuring out where you'll go for the next 8 hours while your car is adding 300% margin electrons. Often you have no idea if the charger is even working before you get there.

No thanks.

Automakers better build their own garden or ask if they can play in Tesla's.

Red Sage ca us | 15 April, 2016

archvillain: The Chevrolet VOLT successfully lured people to 'independent franchised dealerships' that promptly sold ten times as many of the CRUZE and MALIBU to unsuspecting Customers. I'm sure that GM hopes the same will happen with BOLT. | 15 April, 2016

Politics aside, the Supercharger interface technically constrains cars from other manufacturers to have similar specs to the Tesla battery packs. Up to 120 kW DC is available at up to 400 volts/300 amps. The SC circuitry communicates with the car and adapts toe the size of the battery pack being connected. This handshake would have to be built into the cars of other manufacturers and Tesla would have to adapt the voltage/current output profile to the manufacturer's battery pack spec's.

As an example, Panasonic recommends 2 Amos charging current maximum for the 18650 cells of the type that Tesla uses. Tesla in the interest of rapid charging pushes up to 4 Amps per cell into the pack. Without coordination the SC could fry another mfr's battery pack.

At best this could force the manufacturer into unwanted battery pack options depending on the technology and form factor that they favor.

BMW appears to be going with an 800 volt DC source for their battery configuration as an example. | 15 April, 2016

2 Amps, that is.

jordanrichard | 16 April, 2016

archvillian, if GM was serious about EVs, they would not have crushed the EV1s.

What GM and the others are serious about is keeping their respective EVs down at the entry level in their line ups. They don't make much money on that class of vehicles.

Nissan knows how to make an EV (Leaf). If they wanted, rather if the Nissan dealers wanted, a mid size EV, they could easily do that. However, that is not going to happen.

This is not complicated, dealers make their money on the mid size cars and SUVs and the subsequent parts and service. Until the traditional car companies figure out a way for the dealers to make the same amount of revenue off an EV in those classes of vehicles, they are not going to be built.

archvillain | 16 April, 2016

I agree that dealerships have a conflict of interest with their manufacturers when it comes to going electric. Tesla not being burdened with dealerships that make their bread and butter on legacy tech is part of Tesla's recipe for success.

I'm guessing that 20 years from now, there will be fewer dealerships.

Haggy | 17 April, 2016

The problem is that the laws are in place to protect franchisees from manufacturers, and it makes sense not to let a manufacturer undercut its own dealer network. The laws were never intended to stifle competition or protect manufacturers, so Gm has no argument. The problem is that it will make it hard for dealerships to go away.

But GM could resurrect the Saturn concept of fixed non-negotiable prices, and sell EVs under a different brand name that operates in this manner. Then people won't buy a car based on whether they can get a deal at that moment, but on whether they like a particular vehicle. Of course, manufacturers could have sales, or offer rebates, and as long as they apply equally to all customers there won't be a problem. They will have to set prices to be competitive or they won't sell cars.

archvillain | 17 April, 2016

Haha, that would be awesome; if electric cars - as a class - bypassed the haggling and hassle of car-buying, then people would be flocking to electric not even because the cars were better, but because they were so much easier to buy with confidence! :)

johngratcliff | 18 April, 2016

The ICE manufacturers and dealers can't have it both ways. Either they make and sell cars that perform as well and are as simple and inexpensive to maintain as Tesla cars at prices comparable to Tesla prices or they don't. If they do, those cares will be better cars for the price than the ICE cars that they manufacture or even can manufacture. They will be competing successfully against themselves. And if they don't make cars which compete with Tesla (and their own ICE cars), then over time Tesla (and perhaps other EV makers) will dominate the automobile market. It isn't that ICE makers can't make the shift. But they can't make it without enormous cost (basically by giving up on ICE as the standard automobile). And they can't have it both ways.

johngratcliff | 18 April, 2016

'Cars', not 'cares'.

bj | 18 April, 2016

Any parellels here with Microsoft vs Apple in the late '90s? It was Apple's nadir. Microsoft had its foot on Apple's throat, deciding whether or not to "buy into" the Apple ecosystem by continuing to develop Office for Mac. The analysts said that if Microsoft stopped developing Office for Mac, Apple was finished and bankruptcy was not far away. It was a life and death situation, and Microsoft had the call.

In the end, Microsoft did commit to Office for Mac and did invest in Apple. It gave Apple enough legitimacy to survive. And not that long after, Apple developed some new killer products. The rest, as they say, is history. Apple is now the largest company in the world, and Microsoft is not.

I wonder if any auto makers are thinking "we won't repeat that mistake"?

Red Sage ca us | 18 April, 2016

bj: Well, it's a little different... Microsoft was absolutely guilty of committing multiple acts that were already determined to be 'illegal use of monopoly power'. They were standing there, with their foot on Apple's neck -- but it would have cost them a lot more (in fines, penalties, actions to break up the firm into multiple 'Baby Bills') to kill them off than it would to show 'mercy' at that point.

Then Apple chose a 'Hail Mary' by bringing the Old Man, Steve Jobs back... He at first conceived of the iMac, something to get schools and households back on the Macintosh track... Then brought out the iPod, which in the age of Napster was a tremendous success... But then after the RIAA killed off peer-to-peer companies, they came up with iTunes and the iTunes Store... And from there, yes, the rest was history.

Microsoft actually worked rather quickly to effectively 'copy' what Apple was doing with iTunes. It's just that for some reason, people just preferred iTunes and iPod to the Zune and Zune players. I still dund know why -- I couldn't stand either of them. Microsoft also made an effort to copy the iPhone with the Windows Phone... And I didn't like either of those... But the people had their say and chose iPhone for some reason I cannot fathom.

Microsoft did drag their bum with their desktop OS, and with Surface... But by that time I had switched to Linux and Android platforms anyway... So I don't care what happens with iOS, Macintosh, or Windows these days.

;-) | 18 April, 2016

Oh Red, you are such a rebel. No wonder, first Captcha and now Mollom are out to get you.:-))
But wait a minute, this thread isn't about you or me. It's about GM and Mary Barra.

Here's the temperature controlled Chevy Bolt battery pack, all 60 kWh of it

They learned a few tricks from Tesla: built in radar and camera sensors, 4 camera surround view, camera based rear view mirror optional. Charges at home at 240 volts. Only takes 9 hours. No me till of road trips. | 18 April, 2016

No mention of road trips that is.

Red Sage ca us | 18 April, 2016

We're fightin' with the gods of war but I'm a rebel...
And I ain't gonna fight no more no way!
-- Def Leppard, 'Gods of War'

Morlandoemtp061383 | 20 April, 2016

If I owned an electric car, I would love to go to dealerships to get really nice car washes, waxes, rust proofing services. They could still make a profit, they would just have to be smart about it.

Haggy | 23 April, 2016

Dealerships deal with tight margins and can make more money with financing, aftermarket warranties, and services such as rustproofing or special coatings than they can with profit from the car sales. Tesla doesn't want to be in the add on business. You'd be better off going to a specialist for any of those things. But they will sell you service.