A big change is coming to Tesla’s Supercharger network in the coming months. United States and also in Canada as they will be available to electric vehicles of other brands. What is already becoming a reality in Europe is about to take place in the United States, as confirmed by Elon Musk during the event Financial Times Future of the Carto which Tesla will add a second SAE J1772/CCS Combo2 connector to your entire network.
Until the arrival of the European Model 3, Tesla used a proprietary and patented charging port in all its electric cars. This is different in North America and Europe, as the power grids are technically different in both regions. This is why an American Tesla cannot recharge on the European Supercharger network. Its proprietary connector allows charge in mode 3 (in three-phase alternating current limited to 16 kW) by having a CCS connector. Also, this connector is modified to introduce the direct current through it using the same connection pins as the alternating one. Therefore is incompatible with CCS Combo 2 chargers, which use two additional pins for continuous recharging.
Tesla changed its strategy in the European Model 3 by incorporating a CCS2 charging port in the car, compatible with European fast charging networks, that is, with the two additional pins for direct current. At once updated with a second cable all Superchargers to make them compatible with Model 3. This new connector will also be implemented in the new generation of European Model S and Model X.
Elon Musk himself was in charge of announcing the opening of his network of Superchargers worldwide to electric cars from other manufacturers from the end of 2021. While in Europe the opening is only determined by the resolution of some technical problems related to the software, in the United States “it’s a bit more complicated because we have a different connector than the rest of the industry, but we will add the connector of the rest of the industry as an option for Superchargers in the US”, Musk announced during the event Financial Times Future of the Car celebrated a few days ago.
Tesla has not yet clarified how it will implement this change, although presumably, as it did in Europe, it will add a second CCS1 charging cable independent of the existing one already with the proprietary connector. Another way to do it would be to set up separate charging points, which would complicate logistics, or to have an adapter from the Tesla connector to the CCS1 at each charging point.
Later, when the Model S and Model X with a proprietary connector stop circulating, Tesla you will be able to remove this connector from all your carsstandardizing the loading port and remaining exclusively with CCS 2 connector (Mennekes/CCS Combo 2). Older cars will still be able to charge on these CCS2s using an adapter.
In this way, the Tesla Supercharger network will be prepared so that it can be used by any electric car on the market with a CCS1 connector. To do this, you will only have to register in the Tesla application (even if you do not own a car of the brand) and start the charging session from there.
Loss of competitive advantage?
For now, Elon Musk doesn’t has provided a schedule indicating when the first Superchargers in the United States and Canada are expected to allow charging to other brands of electric cars. This strategy will have a significant impact on the charging network worldwide and should mark a historical milestone, a before and after in electric mobility. The Californian manufacturer owns the electric vehicle recharging network more extensive and better managed of how many exist throughout the world.
During the event, Elon Musk was asked about what the loss of competitive advantage could mean for Tesla against its rivals to have this great exclusive recharge network. The CEO of Tesla assured that is the right moveeven losing that extra big advantage: “We’re trying to do everything we can to advance electrification, even if it diminishes our competitive advantage: this is the right thing to do.”
By opening the charging network to other brands, Tesla also faces the challenge of increasing the use of Superchargers, thus increasing the maintenance that require and can cause saturation peaks in those locations with greater use, especially in holiday seasons. A situation that the manufacturer wants to solve by investing the money it earns from the recharges in increasing the network and also with a greater investment in maintenance.
In the United States, the federal government is allocating 7.5 billion dollars to expand the electric recharging network. Private companies that want to benefit from federal government subsidies will have to service vehicles produced by more than one manufacturer. At the time that Tesla opens the Superchargers to the rest of the electric cars, it will be able to request a part of those 7,500 million dollars.
In November of last year, Tesla launched a pilot program in which they only opened 10 Supercharger stations in the Netherlands so they could be used by non-Tesla electric cars. The objective was to check the feasibility of these refills in order to later expand the number. At the beginning of February 2022, the manufacturer announced the extension of this availability to 40 stations. To the 10 in the Netherlands, there were 16 in France and 14 in Norway.
Passed the pilot program The Netherlands became the first country in which its Supercharger network is open to the rest of the electric car manufacturers. The program has also reached Spain. The 13 stations that the manufacturer has opened for now in the Peninsula (of the 41 you have in total) add up to a total of 119 points of new recharge whose maximum power is between 150 and 250 kW.
With the opening of the first batch of Superchargers in Spain that of other European countries has also been announced. Specifically, the list of countries with Tesla stations open to electric cars of other brands is as follows: France, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium and Austria.