J.D. Power survey: Tesla is playing with fire with Supercharger layoffs

The public EV charging situation in the United States isn’t the best, and despite significant advances in the number and reliability of fast chargers across the country, nobody seems to be able to match Tesla’s dominance. The automaker’s Supercharger network is widely regarded as the best and most consistent in the nation, and a recent study from J.D. Power found that buyers view Superchargers as one of the driving forces behind their purchase of a new Tesla, raising questions about Elon Musk's decision to lay off the entire department.

In the J.D. Power survey, the top five electric vehicles for which “charging station availability” was the primary reason for purchase were all Teslas. At the same time, the organization found that the increases it saw in EV owners' charging satisfaction came from non-Tesla networks that are making gains, suggesting that the automaker’s recent layoffs might not have been the best idea.

J.D. Power noted that Tesla remains the market leader but said that its share isn’t set in stone. Additionally, its customer satisfaction score has actually declined for the past two quarters, opening the door for other companies to jump in. Companies like Electrify America, EVGo, and others have a long way to go to reach the reliability and availability of Tesla’s Superchargers, but as J.D. Power noted, the right investments and continued improvement in customer satisfaction could make them a legitimate threat to Tesla’s dominance.

The real question for Tesla is whether to start investing in rebuilding its Supercharger team. While the automaker has rehired some of the Supercharger team it had cut, the episode created instability within Tesla and among its contractors and investors. With so many buyers saying that the Tesla charging experience is central to their purchasing decision, it’s hard to imagine that ignoring its most important asset is a wise business decision. The Supercharger brand is so tied with Tesla’s that a change in the charging experience could become a loyalty nightmare.

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