Many see Tesla’s Supercharger network as a key advantage for the brand and it regularly comes up in the list of reasons to choose a Tesla over the competition. Having a prolific charging network provides confidence to potential EV owners that they can travel to the destinations they need, without issue.
Now with more than 25,000 Superchargers across the world, Elon Musk has confirmed they will open up the network to other EVs later this year.
This raises many questions such as:
- Which other vehicles would be compatible?
- How will Tesla ensure the demand for charging is met, given we’ve already seen long lines in some locations?
- Will the cost to charge be more for a non-Tesla EV?
- Will the proceeds from charging enable an acceleration of the rollout of additional stalls and locations?
- How will Tesla deal with the differences in charging plugs between vehicles ? Adapters, dongles?
- Will having more users of the Supercharger network, enable Tesla to reduce the cost of charging to Tesla customers?
- Are we going to see Superhcarger support announced for a brand or vehicle at a time, or big bang?
- Will Supercharger locations be added to 3rd party nav systems with availability?
- Is there a minimum charging rate that is required to use the Supercharger to reduce per-session time?
In Australia, our 3rd party charging network is growing and many parts of the east coast have coverage right now. While locations can overlap, like at Euroa, VIC, the 3rd party chargers often are 4 bays, with 2x 50kW and 2x 350kW charging. Clearly, this won’t support the anticipated growth in EVs over the coming years, so having a 6-bay Tesla Supercharger a couple of minutes down the road, provides a great alternative.
One of the best attributes of using a Supercharger is the experience of simply pulling up, connecting the charger and when you’re done, disconnecting it and driving away. In many ways, this is like the experience of Uber. You’ll always be paying for the service, so there’s no need to deal with the transaction at the site.
Given a Tesla is linked to an account, which is linked to a payment method (read credit card), then Supercharging the car is simply charged to the account. With a non-Tesla vehicle, there is no option to use an on-screen display, as required by 3rd party chargers, so any alternate EVs planning on using the charger will likely need to comply with the new standard that handles this.
ISO 15118 enables electric vehicles to automatically identify and authorise themselves to a charging station, then activate a charging session. Drivers are simply required to plug in the charging cable, This standard is being applied to both AC and DC fast charging and even extends to wireless charging (not that Tesla has this).
The upcoming Lucid Air is also slated to support the standard.
What will be interesting to watch is how Tesla navigates their overall mission, of helping accelerate the transition to sustainable energy, which access to the Supercharger network certainly does, and the interests of Tesla owners and shareholders which don’t, at least not yet.
If Tesla is able to rapidly expand the charging infrastructure, Superchargers could become the default fast-charging option in many countries.
Let us know in the comments what you think about Tesla’s decision to open up Superchargers to EVs from other automakers.