For years, Tesla has led the automotive industry in the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Today, Tesla has over 25,000 "Superchargers" around the world. These branded locations have been a beacon for Tesla drivers looking to recharge their vehicles, even in places where other companies were not installing stations. Drivers of other EV brands could not use them because they were designed to work for Tesla models only.
According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, things will soon change. Musk recently revealed some details about the long-rumored expanded availability of his company's charging stations to non-Tesla electric vehicle owners. Although many questions remain about when this change will take effect, some answers are beginning to come to light.
We do know that how non-Tesla drivers will access Superchargers will depend on their geographic location. For instance, in Europe, Tesla's charging stations use the CCS standard plug, which connects to Tesla and non-Tesla EVs alike. But in the United States, Tesla's Superchargers use a proprietary connector that only works with Tesla EVs. That means non-Tesla drivers will need to use an adapter to charge their vehicles at a Supercharger. EV owners will either need to buy an adapter or, in some locations, Tesla said it might provide them.
Non-Tesla EV drivers will also need to download and use the Tesla app to start a charging session. While Tesla drivers simply need to plug their EV in to refill the battery, other EVs cannot communicate with the Supercharger, so the app will function as a bridge connector. In non-Tesla EVs, a similar, simplified communication protocol called Plug and Charge is available. It allows EVs to get energy from a compatible DC fast charging station without the owner needing to swipe a credit card or log in to an account.
Tesla's Musk also said that non-Tesla drivers will likely pay more for their charging session than those driving the company's own EVs and that a more dynamic pricing system will be coming to the stations. This will adjust the rate people pay for their charge, similar to what Uber does with its 'surge' charging. These changes are likely to help Tesla's bottom line when it comes to installing and maintaining the Superchargers. Tesla SVP of powertrain and energy engineering, Drew Baglino, told investors on a recent call that, "Increasing the utilization of the network actually reduces our costs, which allows us to lower charging prices for all customers."
Other charging station providers are also working to make their stations available to more EVs. Electrify America, which primarily uses the CCS connector, offers a CHAdeMO connector at each station. EVgo also offers Tesla connectors in some urban locations.