Tesla Motors (TSLA) got all the love that it deserved for coming out with something that is indeed ahead of competition - the Model S luxury sedan. Elon Musk took a bold step to start an EV company, kept it ticking with help from almost half a billion in Energy Department loans, and has made the company a profitable luxury electric automaker. The Model S earned the highest ratings from Motor Trend and Consumer Reports.
While bulls and bears are fighting it out on the Street, there are some hurdles that surely need to be overcome and the biggest of them is "range anxiety," or in simple words, the distance that one can cover in a Model S.
To take care of "range anxiety," Tesla has plans in place for supercharger stations. Once this network is in place, Tesla owners can drive from coast to coast with a "pit stop" of 30 minutes for every three hours of drive. By the end of 2014, most of the metro areas in the U.S. and Canada are planned to be covered by this network.
Tesla intends to install a network that would allow a Model S to travel from Los Angeles to New York, Boston to Miami and Vancouver, British Columbia, to Phoenix, Arizona. The company has plans to cover 80% of U.S. residents by the supercharger network by the end of 2014.
Also, as Tesla moves into new markets such as Europe and China and diversifies its line up with the Model X SUV and the $35,000 Gen 3 car, it could perform even better. Also, expansion into more markets means more supercharging stations.
So, Tesla will be busy building its supercharging network in the future. But, another company, which is usually not associated with cars, has also been making some moves to benefit from the growth of Tesla.
Qualcomm (QCOM) needs no introduction as it is the leading chip supplier for smartphone and tablets. It can be aptly called the "Intel of mobile." It supplies chips to all leading smartphone vendors across the globe and has been doing pretty well by outpacing competitors in that segment through its innovations. Besides, it also possesses a number of patents, which can help it generate revenue through patent licensing.
But is Qualcomm happy being just the Intel of mobile? Personally, I don't think so, and I would be looking at a reason why Qualcomm's future is more than just mobile.
After seeing the woes of Intel, which was heavily dependent on the PC market, Qualcomm is probably feeling the need to diversify.
As such, two years ago, the wireless giant forayed into the electric vehicle market. It acquired the assets of a company from New Zealand, known as HaloIPT, which had developed a wireless electric car charging technology.
Qualcomm doesn't manufacture any EV. That's something Tesla and others do. However, a press release issued last year is worth noting:
"Qualcomm Incorporated today announced a multi-year agreement with Formula E Holdings (FEH) to become an Official Founding Technology Partner of the FIA Formula E Championship, the new international championship featuring racing cars powered exclusively by electric energy. The agreement will allow Qualcomm and FEH to showcase mobile and Electronic Vehicle technologies globally through an exhilarating sport and demonstrate how current and future generations all over the world can benefit from wireless, sustainable technology on- and-off the track."
"As a leader in the mobile space, Qualcomm will advise FEH in their quest to incorporate new and more sustainable technologies into the racing series. As a start, Qualcomm Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology will be adapted to be fitted into the 2014/2015 FIA Formula E Championship safety cars so they can be wirelessly charged. The wireless charging system will be made available to the race cars from season two."
This suggests that Qualcomm is definitely looking at the EV wireless charging market and perhaps was also driven into this decision on back of President Obama's plan of 1 million EVs by the end of 2015 in the U.S.
Bosch Automotive Service Solutions has already started offering $3,000 wireless chargers for Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt owners. So Qualcomm is definitely not going to be happy just being a player in the mobile computing space. There's a new opportunity brewing in the EV market and that is plugless charging and it looks like Qualcomm is looking to benefit from it.
That's why Qualcomm is aggressively moving into this market and it entered into yet another agreement with Drayson Racing Technologies last year. Qualcomm will provide its wireless electric vehicle charging technology to Drayson Racing, which will then manufacture related products for sale to customers in the motorsport and automotive sectors.
Qualcomm's Halo WEVC technology is designed to enable wireless charging of electric vehicles through a pad in the parking space. It is a technology that is expected to dramatically improve EV infrastructure and uptake. The company is also developing cutting-edge dynamic wireless charge-on-the-move systems as well.
So it is quite evident that Qualcomm is not just a mobile player. The company's moves into wireless EV charging look good and a tie up with Tesla in the future shouldn't be ruled out either. Considering Qualcomm's diversification moves and its foray into EV charging, the company should be able to perform well in the future.