Hard as NPR tried, the communications arm of the Democratic party couldn’t hide just how much of a loser Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm really is.

Granholm, or one of her PR advisors, thought it a swell ideal to take a four-day electric vehicle from Charlotte, N.C. to Memphis, Tenn., to draw attention to the billions of taxpayer dollars the Biden Administration is diverting to hugely profitable GM, Ford, and other corporations to offset their costs of selling money-losing EVs and relieving their shareholders of the investment burden. Granholm was accompanied by a caravan of DOE minions driving a Cadillac Lyriq, a Chevy Bolt, and curiously a Ford gas engine F-150 pickup. Tagging along was NPR reporter Camila Domonoske, whose bio lists helping NPR win a 2018 pie-eating contest as a “career highlight.”

Given the pathetic state of America’s charging network available to service Granholm’s electric vehicles, inviting a reporter to witness first-hand the inevitable debacle demonstrated judgment so remarkably poor it qualifies as reckless negligence. It’s no surprise that Granholm’s charging experiences went badly, but I’m aghast that it triggered another incident of what I’ve dubbed “charging rage” and required the involvement of a local Georgia sheriff.

Here’s what happened when Granholm and her entourage was hoping to fast-charge in the Augusta suburb of Grovetown, as reported by Domonoske.

(Granholm’s) advance team realized there weren’t going to be enough plugs to go around. One of the station’s four chargers was broken, and others were occupied. So an Energy Department staffer tried parking a nonelectric vehicle by one of those working chargers to reserve a spot for the approaching secretary of energy.

That did not go down well: a regular gas-powered car blocking the only free spot for a charger?

In fact, a family that was boxed out — on a sweltering day, with a baby in the vehicle — was so upset they decided to get the authorities involved: They called the police.

The sheriff’s office couldn’t do anything. It’s not illegal for a non-EV to claim a charging spot in Georgia. Energy Department staff scrambled to smooth over the situation, including sending other vehicles to slower chargers, until both the frustrated family and the secretary had room to charge.

It would be even more pathetic if Granholm, who I recently unfavorably profiled, only just discovered the colossal failure of the Biden Administration and EV wannabe manufacturers to build a reliable charging network. Even a technology challenged person like me understands that EVs need chargers to remain operative, but somehow only the folks at Tesla appreciated this critical detail.

That’s why years ago, even before Teslas were selling like hotcakes, the company began building out a national supercharging network so that buyers of its EVs could travel long distances. Many mistakenly assume that the prescience was another example of Elon Musk’s genius, but JB Straubel, Tesla’s co-founder and former chief technology officer, was the visionary responsible. Straubel in May was elected a Tesla director to the delight of cheering shareholders.


The Wall Street Journal two weeks ago published this eye-opening article about the dismal state of America’s charging network and how possibly Tesla is the only company that can quickly rectify the situation.

According to the Journal, the U.S. has only 33,400 fast chargers, and many of them are inoperable or prone to constant breakdowns. It’s fortunate the GM CEO Mary Barra knows little about EV manufacturing and in the first six months of 2023 delivered only 49 of her monster EV Hummers, for which GM claimed it has 90,000 orders. Barra’s brake-challenged electric Hummers weigh more than 9,000 pounds and the vehicle’s battery weighs more than a Honda Civic. Imagine the havoc if there were 90,000 electric Hummers on the road in need of charging on America’s bush league network.

In addition to the Biden Administration incompetents like Granholm and Treasury Secretary Pete Buttigieg overseeing America’s EV conversion, utilities are also part of the problem. The Journal reported that America’s utilities aren’t responsive and can take a year or longer to provide charging connections. President Biden said the climate crisis has reached “code red for humanity” and yet utilities can sit on their corporate duffs and delay charging station installations. Spectrum, my cable and internet provider, replaced my defective outdoor cable connection to its network within hours of discovering the issue.

The Journal article made clear that Tesla’s charging station lead is possibly unstoppable, and the company is poised to forever dominate America’s EV industry. The Journal reported that Tesla can substantially undercut every company that hopes to get into the charging business and have its Superchargers up and running in a fraction of the time.

From the Journal article:

So far, Tesla is the winning bidder to build chargers at about 18% of the sites selected by states using the federal dollars to fund fast chargers, more than any other company, according to data from EVAdoption, an EV and charging analytics firm. Tesla has won around $8.5 million of the roughly $77 million awarded so far.

Five states—Ohio, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Maine and Colorado—have selected winners at this point, and full details on sites and designs aren’t yet available. Tesla’s bids averaged around $392,000 a site compared with an average of $795,000 from others.

In most cases, Tesla plans to install eight chargers, and in some cases a dozen. Most companies are sticking to the minimum required by the federal government—at least four fast-charging ports at a station.

Tesla’s price advantage is in part because it makes its own chargers. In one Maine bid, it estimated hardware costs of $17,000 a charger, compared with $130,000 by another company, according to EVAdoption.

“We’re vertically integrated,” said Rebecca Tinucci, Tesla’s head of global charging infrastructure, at an investor meeting in March. “We manufacture and engineer all of our own charging equipment.” 

My head spins the more I understand what Tesla has accomplished and how I have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than GM and Ford ever becoming formidable EV competitors. Getting chargers built and installed across the country is a formidable task, as it requires getting permits and approvals from often slow-moving municipal governments and then tapping into grids controlled by slow moving utilities.

Rebecca Tinucci/LinkedIn

A year ago last month I posted this commentary marveling at Tesla’s Supercharging expansion in the Los Angeles area, where I estimate the company has more charging stations in Santa Monica than there are gas pumps. Tinucci understands far better than Energy Secretary Granholm what it will take to achieve mass acceptance and adoption of electric vehicles.

“A key priority for Tesla Charging is installing low-cost, convenient AC charging anywhere electric vehicles are parked for more than an hour or two,” Tinucci was quoted in Hilton’s news release last week announcing the hotel chain will install Tesla Universal Wall Connectors at 2,000 hotels.

“To ensure electric vehicle adoption at scale, our joint industry goal must be to vastly improve upon the traditional gasoline vehicle ownership experience, not just meet it (emphasis mine). Installing infrastructure at popular destinations like Hilton hotels enables EV owners to charge where they park, meaning no unnecessary refueling stops along their journey. We applaud Hilton for their leadership in the space and look forward to continuing to ramp this critical program with other industry leaders.”

Tesla doesn’t employ PR people, which is evident by Tinucci’s quote. Tinucci possibly didn’t write it, but whomever did knows how to articulate a vision clearly and concisely. By comparison, GM’s and Ford’s news releases typically reek of vacuous PRspeak and CEO self-promotion.

Surprisingly, Tinucci has escaped the glare of the media limelight, possibly deliberately. She publicly surfaced at a Tesla investor presentation last March featuring the company’s brain trust, and teased Tesla cultists with a photo of a wireless home charging station without further explanation. The accompanying Norwegian video does a great job explaining the potential implications of wireless charging.

Despite overseeing the electric juicers that in my mind makes Teslas the only credible EVs on the U.S. market, as best I can tell Tinucci has never garnered a profile in a major media outlet or even a trade publication. Besides her understated LinkedIn profile, the only other meaningful source of information was this July 13, 2018, article published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Tinucci graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in commerce, finance, and management and worked as a consultant for a year at Kurt Salmon Associates, a retail consulting firm that was acquired by Accenture in 2016.

In June 2009, Tinucci and her father, Tom Hough, co-founded Evatran, a company specializing in wireless charging that does business under the name Plugless Power. Hough, a former GE executive, in 1998 purchased the specialist high-power transformer manufacturer MTC Transformers, which his bio says he built from four employees to a “$40 million-a-year business with a multi-division operational footprint and 175+ employees.”

According to the Times-Dispatch article about Tinucci’s departure, she left the company for personal reasons.

“She got married on the West Coast in March when she left here,” said Bob Mooney, Evatran’s board chairman and managing partner at New Richmond Ventures, a Richmond venture capital group that invested in Evatran.

When Tinucci joined Tesla, she posted being the “first non-engineering hire recruited to build an internal team tasked with developing machine vision products for advanced manufacturing. Job responsibilities include AI (artificial intelligence) product and program management, as well as team coordination.”

 Since joining Tesla, Tinucci has received about a half dozen promotions.

The Wall Street Journal article about Tesla’s charging station prowess makes clear why the Biden Administration has failed so miserably building a national charging infrastructure, despite earmarking $7.5 billion to the effort. Biden’s incompetents are doling out the money to states, which in turn likely means more political incompetents are involved choosing who’s best to shower with contracts. When politicians are involved, the best companies or persons almost never win.

If I was Secretary of Energy, I’d fund a privately-owned battery charging infrastructure company to build a national network and would award my chosen CEO hundreds of millions of dollars if she could get the job done.

I already know the best person for the job.

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