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Hyundai Exec: Tesla Superchargers Funded By US Government

Sometimes the interactions between the leadership of large companies comes across as something of drama (and/or comedy). And a recent statement from an executive at Hyundai about Tesla’s Supercharger network continues in that tradition, along with Tesla’s reply.

The Hyundai exec put forward the comment that, whilst his company didn’t receive any money from the US government for its hydrogen vehicles, Tesla had received a fair amount of money from the government for its Supercharger network — in the form of grants and loans.

Image Credit: Tesla

Image Credit: Tesla

The unsaid inference being made here is that Tesla’s success is at least partly the result of unbalanced governmental support. The comment was made by the US head of product planning for Hyundai, Michael O’Brien, during a “discussion of the Korean automaker’s view of hydrogen fueling infrastructure and which entities should provide it.”

Green Car Reports provides more:

Indeed, it seems irrefutable that Hyundai received no direct funding from the US or state governments for its more than a decade of research and development into hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

But given that Tesla repaid its entire $465 million low-interest loan from the US Department of Energy more than a year ago–several years ahead of schedule — we thought the Silicon Valley electric-car maker might want to respond to O’Brien’s assertion.

Indeed, Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s vice president of business development, was more than eager to set the record straight from his point of view. “I am furious at any allegation that any public money was spent on the Supercharger network,” he told Green Car Reports. “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 their future fuel-cell vehicles.

Hmm, pretty strong rebuttal…

I can still see a sliver O’Brien’s point on this matter — perhaps Tesla did use some of the capital provided by its DOE loan to build early Supercharger stations? But it seems less than friendly and practically pointless to bring up a small loan that was paid off years early, especially knowing Tesla’s willingness to send strong counter-responses, and knowing the deep limitations of fuel cell vehicles.

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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


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