Tesla currently runs the world’s largest network of fast chargers but has, until now, limited access to those who actually own Tesla vehicles. That’s apparently about to change.
New reports indicate the California-based EV maker will start allowing owners of battery-electric cars built by other brands to start plugging in to the Supercharger network, starting in September 2022. Details have yet to be formally announced, but it appears to transition will begin in Europe where Tesla chargers share the same CCS-style plug used by competitors.
Tesla began building its Supercharger network a decade ago, CEO Elon Musk seeing it as a way to address two of the biggest concerns voiced by potential EV owners: range anxiety and the lack of places to charge when traveling away from home. The company currently operates more than 25,000 Superchargers at 2,700 stations worldwide. At the end of the first quarter of this year, that included 986 stations in the U.S. alone.
Access for incentives
The move has been rumored for some time, and officials in Germany and other parts of Europe have announced they are in discussions with Tesla about opening up its charging network. According to website Electrek, there are several reasons for such a move. Among other things, it could help Tesla win incentives for its Supercharger system.
The website obtained minutes of a council meeting in Norway’s Westland County during which government officials confirmed plans to open up the Supercharger system by September 2022. That was a necessary prerequisite to winning government incentives available only for charging stations that are open to all EVs, whatever the brand.
How many other countries could see Tesla open up access hasn’t been disclosed. Such a move could pose challenges in the U.S., however. Here, the carmaker uses a unique plug on its Superchargers. It would either need to make adapters available — or require non-Tesla owners to bring adapters with them.
Tesla already makes adapters available for its own customers so they can use the growing network of charging stations being set up by companies like EVgo, ChargePoint, Green Lots and Electrify America.
Speeding up the quick-chargers
None of them come close to operating as many high-speed chargers, worldwide or in the U.S. That’s beginning to change, however, as the leaders in the field have all announced plans to accelerate the roll-out of fast-charging stations. They’re also increasing the speed of the technology. Initial public chargers fell into two categories: 220-volt systems that could take eight hours or more to fully recharge a long-range vehicle, or 400-volt, 50 kilowatt systems that could reduce charging times to an hour or so.
The latest chargers are jumping to 150 and even 350 kilowatt-hours. And some products now can receive an 80% charge in under 20 minutes.
While some competitors hope to rival Tesla’s size, that still will take several years to achieve, at the earliest. Another advantage of the Supercharger network is the way it has been laid out, Tesla intentional filling gaps in more remote regions of Middle and Western America to ensure drivers can travel pretty much anywhere and still be sure of finding a place to plug in.
A key Biden goal
The Biden administration has set a target of having 500,000 high-speed charging ports in place across the U.S. by the end of the decade. It has called for $17 billion of its infrastructure plan to be set aside to help fund that network. EV proponents believe that this will largely eliminate one of the key barriers to widespread adoption of battery-electric vehicles.
TheDetroitBureau.com has reached out to Tesla but has yet to receive any comments on the reported plans for the Supercharger network.