Hyundai, Tesla In Spat Over Funding Of Supercharger Network

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
hyundai tesla in spat over funding of supercharger network

Hyundai’s head of U.S. product planning Michael O’Brien may have written a check his mouth can’t cash when he claimed Tesla’s Supercharger network was paid with taxpayer dollars.

Green Car Reports says during a discussion of his employer’s view on hydrogen fueling infrastructure, O’Brien stated that Hyundai has not received any funding from the federal government for its hydrogen vehicles, while Tesla’s Supercharger network was paid with “grants and loans from the government.”

In turn, this assertion infuriated Tesla’s vice president of business development Diarmuld O’Connell:

Those sites have been paid for entirely by Tesla Motors — which continues to spend money in expanding the network. This stands in stark contrast to certain foreign carmakers, including Hyundai, who have no manufacturing presence in California but expect the state’s taxpayers to spend up to $200 million to set up hydrogen stations.

For his part, O’Brien did acknowledge hydrogen would only take off “when other states start investing in infrastructure.”

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23 of 32 comments
  • Vvk Vvk on Jul 16, 2014

    Samsung trashing Apple, now Hyundai trashing Tesla. Why are these foreign companies treading on genuinely American companies and why are we letting them by buying their products? Boycott Korea!!!

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    • DrGastro997 DrGastro997 on Jul 16, 2014

      Totally agreed. Try buying a foreign car in Korea. It's close to impossible due to ridiculous tariffs. Japan is still blocking Korean car manufacturers from their market partly because they'll steal and run on technology, duplicate and come back to sue for patent infringement . I hate buying products from countries that do business unethically.

  • Xeranar Xeranar on Jul 16, 2014

    I'll keep this short but unless the government willfully builds either electric or hydrogen infrastructure it won't be built. Call it what you will but the market is monopolistic and gas companies have no reason to reinvest in a new technology that would cut into their profitable monopoly. Especially as neither of the alternative power sources would or could be controlled by their system (desalination plants are primed to crack water, electricity from various sources).

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    • Vulpine Vulpine on Jul 17, 2014

      @Xeranar: In response to your concern, "... but just because I can drive to one location within a vast city doesn't mean it actually is practical to charge there..." I have to ask, Why the concern? Maybe I'm misunderstanding your question, but I have to remind you that under normal circumstances you would be recharging every night right in your own driveway--you simply don't need to use a Supercharger or any other charging station unless you're driving 200 miles or more in a given day. Unlike gasoline or diesel-powered cars, you can start every single day with a "full tank" and the base model Tesla sedan can go almost 200 miles comfortably on that charge. There's almost no need to double, triple or quadruple the number of stations other than to ensure that you're in safe cruising range of a station no matter what route you may choose to take as you travel the country. This is why so many anti-EV arguments puzzle me; it is as though they expect to HAVE to use a commercial charging location the same way they use a gas station--for everyday driving. To be quite blunt, it's not only impractical, it's wasteful. Yes, it is a change of habit for many drivers; they're used to only being able to go to a gas station to refuel and simply can't conceive that they no longer need to. Your primary gas station is now your home and you can cover well over a typical day's driving without ever needing to stop for fuel. Of course, once they get into that habit, they're going to be much more likely to run out of gas in their ICE vehicle, thinking they're starting with a full tank every time.

  • VoGo VoGo on Jul 16, 2014

    Marcelo, On Verizon, yes the US government is deeply involved in the mobile telephony business, but I think that at the end of the day, it was Verizon that decided to build the network, they invested billions of dollars, and they are reaping the benefits. I think most people would concede that it was an infrastructure investment led by a corporation, rather than the government. On Starbucks, I wondered the same question as I wrote that. I chose Starbucks vs. most restaurant chains because Starbucks actually owns their stores - they don't franchise in the US. And when you think about it, a coffee shop is similar to a gas station: lots of locations nationally, long supply chain, similar business continuity and product quality risks, etc. I am definitely open to other examples and continuing the dialog - I don't have all the answers by any means. But my hypothesis is that there is very little appetite among the majority of Americans for the federal government to develop new types of infrastructure. If it is going to happen, visionary corporations will need to lead.

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    • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on Jul 16, 2014

      VoGo, thanks for the very kind words! I just try to keep an open mind and remain skeptical of any kind of absolutism and very cut and dried views. Boa noite para você também!

  • Mechaman Mechaman on Jul 16, 2014

    yeah, 'cause there's so much war we could spend our money on ...