Tesla Opens Superchargers to Other EV Brands in Pilot Project
It’s only in the Netherlands for now, but opening up the huge network of fast-charging equipment to all EVs could be a global game changer eventually.
- It’s only a pilot program for now, but Tesla has big plans to allow electric vehicles from other automakers to use its global network of 25,000 Superchargers.
- For now, though, only 10 such stations in the Netherlands are open to EVs with a CCS port, and then only for people who live in Holland.
- Tesla said it will pay attention to issues regarding congestion and pricing before it expands availability of these Superchargers to non-Tesla EVs in other locations.
As promised, Tesla has started opening its Supercharger network to non-Tesla electric vehicles. As expected, the devil is in the details.
The California automaker just changed its rules to allow drivers of other companies’ EVs to use the Tesla Supercharger at just 10 locations in the Netherlands. This makes sense for two reasons. First, Holland leads the EU in charging stations per capita with almost 75,000 stations, almost a third of the amount in the entire EU, from all charging providers, lightening the immediate load on these stations. Second, the European Union has been talking about requiring EV chargers there to be compatible with all modern EVs for years now. While Tesla EVs and Superchargers in the U.S. still use Tesla’s proprietary connector, Tesla has shifted to selling vehicles with a CCS connector in Europe.
That means some of Tesla’s European Superchargers already have a CCS connector in addition to the proprietary port. This makes opening the station to other CCS-equipped vehicles easier. And, starting this week, 10 Dutch Supercharger stations will be able to power up other EVs, as long as those cars have a CCS-style connector port. In other words,the Nissan Leaf—and other EVs with CHAdeMO ports—will not be able to take advantage of Tesla’s open network, but Nissan and other automakers that once relied on CHAdeMO have already signaled they are moving away from this early DC fast-charging standard and toward CCS across the board.
Tesla is calling the initial program its “Non-Tesla Supercharger pilot,” and it requires drivers of non-Tesla EVs to live in the Netherlands to take part, at least for now. These drivers also need to use the Tesla smartphone app (version 4.2.3 or higher) and create a Tesla account to access a charging session. In the app, there is now an option to “Charge Your Non-Tesla,” which requires adding a payment method and a few button taps to start or stop a session. Non-Tesla drivers will also need to let the app know precisely which charging cable they’re using, since only Tesla EVs have the right communication protocols to determine that automatically at this point.
Opening up its Supercharger stations will give Tesla a new and potentially large revenue stream. It’s too early to estimate how much money it could bring in, but, publicly, Tesla is more worried about the costs than the profit. Tesla said it is charging varying rates at the 10 stations and that non-Tesla drivers will pay more because their sessions reflect “additional costs incurred to support charging a broad range of vehicles and adjustments to our sites to accommodate these vehicles.” The per-kWh price to charge will be listed in the app, and drivers who think they will use Superchargers regularly can sign up for a charging membership that can lower the cost.
Idle Fees Coming?
Some Tesla drivers have already started worrying about how this change in policy will affect their wait times at busy locations, since Tesla drivers can continue to use these 10 stations as before. The company does apply “idle fees” if an EV is left plugged in too long or after it’s done charging. The rates for these fees vary by country, but are around 50 cents per minute or $1 a minute if all plugs at that station are occupied.
Tesla said it “will be closely monitoring each site for congestion and listening to customers about their experiences,” and anyone with an EV that doesn’t have a CCS connector should submit a report to Tesla Customer Support. We assume this is to gauge the demand for making more changes to Supercharging stations in the future. After all, Tesla said in its announcement that it hopes to “learn and iterate quickly,” as it expands the pilot program to “eventually welcome both Tesla and Non-Tesla drivers at every Supercharger worldwide.”
Tesla currently operates more than 25,000 Superchargers around the world.
For Tesla drivers who want to charge up at non-Supercharger locations, the automaker includes a J1772 adapter that is compatible with most Level 2 public charging stations and supports charging speeds up to 19.2 kW with its vehicles. It also sells the adapter separately for $50.