Art critique

Tesla Product Design Director Shares His Review of Ford’s ‘Fancy’ L2 Chargers


It is said that imitation is one of the sincerest forms of flattery. Done well, it could even spur innovation. Just look at how the smartphone market evolved from Blackberry-style QWERTY devices to touchscreen handsets that followed the model of the first iPhone. In Tesla’s case, it appears its network of fast-charging superchargers is having a similar effect among automakers, with several companies adopting a charger design that obviously appears to be inspired by the electric vehicle maker’s booths.

A set of Level 2 chargers from a Ford dealership in Dover, DE recently caught the attention of the electric vehicle community on Twitter. This was mainly due to the fact that the EV chargers looked extremely similar to Tesla’s Superchargers, in their general shape to their cutouts in the middle. Interestingly enough, the center cutout of Ford’s EV chargers seemed to be meant only for cosmetic purposes, as its long charging cables were tucked to the side.

Interestingly, Ford’s electric vehicle chargers have received criticism from the person who designed Tesla’s Supercharger stands himself, product design director Javier Verdura. An alumnus of the Art Center College of Design, Verdura is one of Tesla’s most esteemed designers, alongside chief design officer Franz von Holzhausen. Verdura is a giant in product design, winning some of the industry’s most prestigious awards such as Red Dot, IDEA and Good Design during his tenure.

Being the person behind the design of the Tesla Supercharger, the executive did not mince words when commenting on the design of Ford’s Level 2 AC chargers. In a scathing criticism, Verdura noted that Ford’s chargers were “dishonest, unnecessarily large, and poorly executed imitations of our design.” It may sound harsh, but it is absolutely correct. Considering the stations are Level 2 chargers, after all, Ford could have made them much smaller and sleeker, similar to Tesla’s own L2 chargers.

While some may argue that Tesla’s chief design officer is unnecessarily casting a shadow over a competitor, such practices are not uncommon at all. Ford’s own executives cast a shadow over Tesla all the time. Most recently, for example, Ford North America Product Communications Director Mike Levine posted a photo of a red Ford F-150 Lightning parked outside Tesla’s California headquarters at 3500 Deer Creek Road in Palo Alto. The image was a mere joke, although it suggests – and points out – that the F-150 Lightning would likely beat Tesla’s own electric pickup in the market.

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Tesla Product Design Director Shares His Review of Ford L2 ‘Fancy’ Chargers