Since November, Tesla has been experimenting with allowing non-Tesla electric vehicles (EVs) to charge at select Tesla Supercharger locations in France, the Netherlands, and Norway. Despite the relatively limited number of chargers participating in the program, it’s a big deal because as more people buy EVs the industry needs more and better EV chargers. It would be easier and cheaper for all involved to allow Superchargers—which account for more than half of U.S. fast chargers—to work with all vehicles rather than keep the charger market separated.
Elon Musk has consistently stated he’s willing to do this, but only began the pilot program in Norway after the government pressured Tesla to do so. Asked again during a Financial Times event about the prospect of opening up Superchargers globally, Musk gave a slightly more definitive answer. “We’ve already opened Tesla Superchargers to other electric cars in Europe, and we intend to roll that out worldwide.”
Musk added that “It’s a little trickier in the U.S. because we have a different connector than the rest of the industry”—Tesla uses a proprietary plug for its vehicles in the U.S. but the standard CCS connector in Europe—”But we will be adding the rest of industry connectors as an option to Superchargers in the US. We’re trying as best as possible to do the right thing for the advancement of electrification; even if that diminishes our competitive advantage.”
It is not clear what exactly Musk is planning here, but the electric vehicle-focused publication Electrek makes the strong case that Tesla is likely planning to add CCS plugs to its Superchargers in addition to the Tesla plugs. But it leaves an open question of how extensively, if at all, Tesla will retrofit existing Superchargers to work with all EVs.
The other, more remote possibility is Tesla could sell a dongle to non-Tesla EV owners, much as it sells a dongle (although not in the U.S.) Tesla owners can buy to use CCS stations. This would provide backwards compatibility to all Superchargers but would also mean buying a several hundred dollar (or more, who knows?) adapter from Tesla.
We would ask Tesla to clarify, but the company disbanded its public relations department years ago. In any event, it is possible that sometime, eventually, the U.S. electric vehicle charging network will make more sense.
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