Tesla has finally agreed to allow non-Tesla drivers to top-up their cars’ batteries at Supercharger stations in a move meant to boost EV adoption. Based on a White House announcement, Tesla would make at least 7,500 chargers available to all EVs by the end of 2024. The Biden administration has been pressuring Tesla for quite some time to open up its chargers.
The Supercharger network is arguably Tesla’s most important asset. Public chargers’ availability is essential for EV owners who want to plan long trips. Tesla has built the largest EV charging network in the U.S., with nearly 18,000 charging posts. It’s more than double the number of its closest rival, Electrify America. Tesla Supercharger network covers most parts of the U.S., with around 1,700 charging stations available on interstates, highways, and city centers. This means that it’s almost impossible to run out of battery during a road trip.
Nevertheless, the Supercharger network is a Tesla-only affair. You’re out of luck if you drive a different electric car and need to charge at a Tesla Supercharger. For once, the charge plug is different, just like an iPhone charger plug is different. And even if you could find an adapter, a non-Tesla EV still won’t be able to communicate with the charger to initiate the session. This is set to change thanks to intense lobbying from the Biden administration. On Wednesday, the White House announced that Tesla agreed to make “at least” 7,500 chargers available for all-electric vehicles by the end of 2024.
A month ago, senior White House officials met with Elon Musk and tried to convince him to make the Tesla Supercharger network usable for non-Tesla owners. The government had leverage, considering it plans to spend $7.5 billion on building fast-charging stations, and Tesla wants a piece of the pie.
Tesla agreed to only 3,500 DC fast chargers open to non-Tesla owners, representing roughly 20% of the total number of Tesla DC fast chargers available today. The other 4,000 chargers will be slower Level 2 chargers. This helps Tesla have its cake and eat it by maintaining its competitive advantage. It also allows enough stations to remain exclusively available to Tesla owners.
The rumors of opening up the Superchargers to non-Tesla EVs surfaced long ago. Tesla already did this in Europe and Australia. Nevertheless, Tesla cars and charging stations in these regions already use the CCS connector, so it was just a matter of flipping a switch to let other EVs charge. Tesla does that via the Tesla app, where owners of non-Tesla vehicles can create an account and pay for charging.
It’s a different story in the U.S., where Tesla uses its NACS proprietary connector. Allowing other EVs to top up their batteries means that Tesla must fit its stations with different plugs, like CCS and CHAdeMO. Rumors indicate that Tesla would do this using an intelligent adapter called Magic Dock. This allows non-Tesla owners to charge their vehicles without worrying about adapters.
After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions. Full profile