As Wall Street analysts write off traditional automakers for being unable to keep up with Tesla’s electric car revolution, BMW of North America says it will install “up to” 100 electric vehicle charging stations in national parks across the U.S. The program is a partnership with BMW of North America and the National Park Foundation, National Park Service and U.S. Department of Energy, who together announced the program at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, New Jersey.
It’s part of a move to improve the infrastructure for EV recharging, here and in Europe and other parts of the world as Tesla spreads its Supercharger system globally. Traditional automakers have settled on a Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) plug standard that allows most brands to plug into these chargers. Tesla’s Supercharger plugs accept only Tesla EV vehicles.
Despite an electrical vehicle market share of about 1.5 percent in the U.S., Wall Street stock analysts in recent weeks have defended Tesla’s market capitalization, which has passed Ford Motor Company’s and was briefly ahead of General Motors, as a reflection of the future of each automaker. The analysts see traditional automakers as ill-prepared for an electrified, autonomous future compared with Tesla’s “disruption.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk plans to get the first of the automaker’s mass-market, $35,000 Model 3s on the road in July, and has announced the company will show its design for an EV semi-truck in September, with a pickup truck design on the way in 12 to 18 months.
Toyota Motor Corporation responded to Tesla’s nascent semi-truck plans by unveiling its “Project Portal” program assigned to the automaker’s North American research team. Project Portal uses a hydrogen fuel-cell system to power an 80,000-pound Class 8 truck-and-trailer combination, according to John O’Dell of trucks.com. After two years study, Toyota developed a fuel-cell system that can move a 60,000-pound load up to 150 miles, and a 36,000-pound load for 240 miles, O’Dell reports, so increasing the capacity and range to a level that’s economically viable for trucking companies is considered a “long-term play.”
In addition, Volkswagen Group announced at the Shanghai motor show that it would bring four new EVs to market in the coming years that will cost consumers about the same price as a similar internal combustion-powered vehicle. Old school automakers have been experimenting with electrification and autonomy for decades, and Tesla has been at it for nearly 14 years, and now, finally, the race is on.