Tesla’s Superchargers allow Tesla vehicles to be fast-charged in under an hour. Tesla reports that there are now 1,308 Supercharger Stations with 10,622 Superchargers strategically distributed around North America to allow owners to drive between major cities and across their country. But what happens when an owner is away from home and there isn’t a Supercharger nearby?
I’m glad you asked! Simply locate an EV charging station on your touchscreen, find your Tesla to J1772 charging adapter, and plug in. Tesla posted a new YouTube video titled “Model S + X Guide| Public Charging” that aims to help new Tesla owners get up to speed on how to use public chargers that are outside of the Tesla network.
In media analysis, we look at more than the overt meanings within media messages — we examine what is a fascinating combination of consciously designed media elements that coalesce into a position that persuades. Tesla’s new video teaches viewers that there need be no trepidation in using a non-proprietary charger — Tesla has anticipated your needs and provided you with the tools you need to charge safely and with certainty, even when away from the comfort of a Tesla charger.
In the video, soft, upbeat instrumental music punctuates the scene. A dark blue Model X enters from the top of the screen. As the vehicle backs into the parking spot, two dual headed charging stations flank the vehicle.
“Find your Tesla” is the suggestion on the next white title on black background. A brunette in gray knit sweater reaches from the driver’s seat over to the glove box. After opening it, she grabs the Tesla J1772 charging adapter, disembarks, and walks over to the charger at the rear of the Tesla. She lifts the charger from the station that, in large part, resembles a gas pump in its verticality oriented, rectangular shape, and hose extension.
“Attach adapter to charging connector” is the next direction. With the charger and cord in her right hand and the adapter in her left, she inserts the adapter into the charging connector and they snap together.
A New Audience for Tesla Charging Adapters
At this point of the video, we as viewers can make some important assumptions about audience. In media analysis, we are curious about the target audiences for media messages — For whom has the message been made? To whom are they talking? Is this message good for me?
Tesla’s products are aimed at customers in the high-end segment of the market. In June 2018, California-based Tesla Motors held about 0.39% of the car and light truck market in the US, and Tesla continues to hold the #1 place for EV sales in the US.
A female is the protagonist of this Tesla narrative about charging adapters. So we infer that, because audiences respond to main characters who look like them, females express greater hesitancy than males when it comes to charging a Tesla away from the security of the Tesla network.
A secondary raison d’etre for featuring a female character in this tutorial is to promote Tesla ownership among a demographic that does not seem to be responding to the Tesla brand in equivalent numbers to males.
There are clear demographic gaps when it comes to who has access to the EV market, but this has less to do with intrinsic truth about gender or race and more a result of the social and economic power structures at play within our society. To boil it down, females still make well less on average than the 80% of people surveyed on a Tesla forum who had household incomes somewhere between $140,000 – $500,000+ year.
Tesla’s Video Seeks to Inform & Instill Trust
In the next frame, she presses gently on the charging door at the left rear of the vehicle and the charging door opens. She inserts the adapter/ charging connector combination into the charging port of the car, which is placed exactly where the gas cap would be in an internal combustion engine. The charging connector combination seats snugly, and the driver walks away from the Tesla. The final frame says, “tesla.com/support” with a white Tesla logo centered on the screen.
One media analysis principle is to look at the effects of the message on the viewer. Questions like, What actions might I take in response to this message? What would someone learn from this message? How might I participate productively?
A Reddit thread captures the essential concerns that this tutorial video attempts to assuage.
“I’m worried about relying on charge stations for all my charging needs. I asked my landlord about maybe installing a 240 at the house but we kind of left it up in the air for the time being. Should I definitely make sure I can charge at home? Would superchargers be enough?”
Electric vehicle owners have a range of options when it comes to recharging. AC Level 1 and AC Level 2 charging can be adopted in residences where overnight charging is an option. While these charging stations are convenient and affordable, they charge at a rate of 2-5 miles of range per hour and 10-20 miles of range per hour respectively and don’t help for long trips that require on-the-go charging.
Every Tesla comes with some basic charging options. When you buy your Tesla Model S or Model X, you get a mobile charging cord and three adapters: one for a standard wall outlet (NEMA 5-15), one for a higher-powered 240 volt wall outlet (NEMA 14-50), and a J1772 adapter for public AC Level 2 charging stations.
Building trust and confidence among customers isn’t an easy task, even with a respected, trend-setting company like Tesla. Yes, each year Model S and Model X owners receive 400 kWh of free Supercharger credit, enough to drive about 1,000 miles. These credits cover the long distance driving needs of most Model S and Model X owners. By including a customer support link at the end of this video, Tesla is acknowledging that people trust people, and human-to-human interfaces like the support link are available in stressful charging situations when the adapter doesn’t function as expected.
Alleviating charging anxiety by extending the number of places where drivers can charge can take place using the various charging adapters indicates that Tesla has goals beyond profit, and its customer relationships are pivotal to the brand’s long-term stability. Tesla also does not use its Supercharger stations as profit centers, which further supports this position.
We are in a world where people want to see the EV market succeed. Even with the robust Tesla Supercharger network, there are not enough available Tesla chargers to serve the aspiring market. The YouTube video about charging adapters is Tesla’s attempt to reduce charging anxiety — the fear that once you arrive at a destination, options to charge may be limited. Sure, charging should be integrated into the routine of the driver, but life sometimes interrupts the best of plans.
The purpose of this video was to instill confidence in Tesla owners when they find themselves in a position when they need to use charging adapters at a non-Tesla public charging station. As a credible source of information, the Tesla-produced video endorsed owners who need to or choose to use chargers outside the Tesla network.
Exceptional business relationships are founded on confidence, and with the Tesla charging adapter, customers are assured that they have the right equipment, and the equipment will serve them well.