Tech
A Tesla model S car with an electric vehicle charging station is displayed during a media preview day at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) September 10, 2013. The world A Tesla model S car with an electric vehicle charging station is displayed during a media preview day at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) September 10, 2013. The world's biggest auto show is open to the public September 14 -22. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS TRANSPORT) - RTX13F9W  

Hyundai Exec Claims US Tax Dollars Fund Tesla Superchargers

Giuseppe Macri
Tech Editor

Korean auto maker Hyundai’s U.S. head of product planning has accused leading American electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors of using taxpayer money in the construction of its network of high-speed Supercharger stations.

Michael O’Brien said that while his company has received no outside money to fund Hyundai’s decade-plus alternative energy hydrogen vehicle development, Tesla has used ”money that has come from grants and loans from the government” to pay for the charging stations it advertises as free for life, according to Green Car Reports(RELATED: Elon Musk Wants To Open Tesla Supercharger Stations To All Electric Cars)

The comments came during a discussion about how hydrogen fueling infrastructure should be established.

It’s worth noting that Tesla paid back the entirety of its 2010 $465-million U.S. Department of Energy loan more than a year ago, and nine years before it was due to become the only alternative energy vehicle manufacturer out of Ford, Nissan and others to do so. (RELATED: Tesla Electrifies The Auto Market)

“I am furious at any allegation that any public money was spent on the Supercharger network,” Tesla Vice President of Business Development Diarmuid O’Connell said in response to the comment. ”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 future products. (RELATED: Texas Gov. Rick Perry Wants Tesla In Texas)

Hyundai, Toyota and Honda are all working on hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles prototypes, all of which will require a billion-dollar infrastructure to fuel them — money which O’Brien, ironically, hopes will come from state governments.

“For us, the big breakthrough will come when other states start investing in infrastructure,” O’Brien said.

Follow Giuseppe on Twitter and Facebook.