Tesla Supercharger alum launches reliability-focused charging startup in Canada
Share Article
Read More
EV Charging
May 16, 2024
Emma Jarratt

How will Canada build out and rapidly scale its public EV charging network? An ex-Tesla employee says reliability is key

After being laid off by Tesla, Joel Musial is founding his own end-to-end electric vehicle charging service, Charge On Consulting in Canada. Photo: Joel Musial

How will Canada build out and rapidly scale its public EV charging network? An ex-Tesla employee says reliability is key

Joel Musial is unlikely to forget the events of the morning of April 30, 2024, for quite some time.

For almost 18 months, Musial had been the construction manager for the Tesla Supercharger team. It was a fast-paced, mission-driven job to build the most expansive, efficient and reliable EV charging network in the world.

Then the mission fell off a cliff.

On April 30, a story broke that Tesla was laying off its Supercharger team — Musial included.

As colleague after colleague’s work accounts went dark, “There were many jokes and references to the Titanic,” reflects Musial in a social media post. “We were just missing the string quartet.”

But in the blurry days following the initial shock, Musial tells Electric Autonomy there was a clear thought in his mind: “I just want to do my best and my part to help the industry.”

The vehicle Musial is choosing to pursue that personal calling is founding his own end-to-end electric vehicle charging service — Charge On Consulting.

From Tesla to “Mission Reliability”

“What if our elevators weren’t reliable?” Musial asks.

“What if every elevator you got in only had a 60, 70 or 80 per cent chance of getting to your floor? You’re stranded.”

EV chargers, Musial says, are as essential as elevators. The problem is they are about a quarter as regulated.

From uptime standards to maintenance plans to location and charging speeds, there are dozens of variables with setting up a charging station. Almost all of them are up to the discretion of the owner and many don’t have the right information.

That is where Charge On hopes to come in.

“Our mission is to ensure all Canadians have access to a reliable EV charging network,” reads the company website.

To do this, Charge On says it will offer a “suite of services.” These include site assessment, land acquisition, infrastructure design and planning, technology education, project management, project compliance and maintenance support.

“It’s educating and sharing what can be done now to save that headache later on,” says Musial.

“We’ve gone through that first phase of just build as much as we can. Now, I think, we need to make sure that what we built is going to stay alive for everyone who really relies on it.”

Baking reliability into industry DNA

There are bigger conversations around charging starting to happen in Canada.

For instance, reporting six months of uptime rates is now one of the criteria for funding eligibility under the upcoming Natural Resources Canada RFP for its ZEVIP charging infrastructure program.

It’s a good first step, says Musial. It’s also reassurance there is demand for the services Charge On will offer. There is also a need, Musial believes, to advance even more.

As a mechanical engineer and a licensed realtor Musial has a professional psychology that demands he pivots constantly from micro to macro focuses.

This, one can imagine, is a useful skill in the charging industry.

After all, a national public charging network may be greater than the sum of its parts, but if some of the parts don’t work the network can’t be great.

It’s critical to make sure the planning for every post in the ground is sound. It’s also equally as important to notice the sea changes and understand what regulatory systems are working, what aren’t and which ones are missing entirely.

“There’s a lot of lobbying that we need to do together,” says Musial. “If we can do that we can force for some change on a higher level, rather than just attack the problems that we experience on any given site.”

Some benchmarks of industry success in this respect, Musial believes, are getting standards around maintaining and reporting uptime established. As well, maintenance plans that schedule down time for repairs or updates, preventative monthly checks and remote monitoring of sites are helpful.

Finally, Musial wonders if perhaps there is a need in the market for penalties for not meeting maintenance checks?

“There’s a certain number of options,” says Musial. “I think that’s kind of the next step: shifting the dialogue towards setting different standards and implementing processes.”

Working with new partners

It’s a sharp 180-degree turn to go from working in a specific construction role for one, notoriously insular company to running a consulting group that opens its arms to any client that walks through the door.

But Musial says he intentionally wants his company’s reach to be far and wide. That means Charge On will work with Level 2 or DC fast chargers on large-scale charging hubs, commercial sites or in MURBs. It will also be liaising with utilities and doing site analysis.

“I want to offer my services to any group that can benefit from it,” he says. “I’ve got the existing partnerships all through the process. Whether it’s from land acquisition or design or development or construction we’ve got those skills and relationships. It’s very exciting for me to zoom out from my specific construction role at Tesla and really offer more of a full package from A to Z.”

Musial says there will be more employee announcements to come in the near future. But already the comment section of his post announcing the launch of Charge On and its reliability mission holds promises to call other former Tesla colleagues.

Certainly Musial is as aware as the rest of the industry there is a valuable talent pool to recruit from.

For many prospective clients, the idea of getting Supercharger-trained best practices whispered in your ear during the uncertain journey to electrification will be tantalizing.

“Tesla really did set the example [for reliability] and I think everyone should, should strive to that,” says Musial.

“Charging is not going anywhere. We’re only starting to grow. We’ve been through a lot as an industry, but there’s a long way to go until 2035.”

View Comments
You May Also Like