Non-Tesla cars could be charged extra for Supercharger access

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Non-Tesla EVs will soon be able to access the Supercharger network using the firm’s app, but slow-charging cars may need to pay a premium.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently confirmed plans to open the Tesla Supercharger network of rapid electric car charging points up to vehicles from other manufacturers. Musk has now offered some clarity on how non-Tesla EV drivers will be able to access the network.

During Tesla’s quarterly financial conference, he said that electric car drivers looking to use the Supercharger network will access the charging points via the firm’s smartphone companion app. They’ll sign up for a Tesla account and be charged for a charging session in a similar way as they would using any other third-party charging point.

“We are thinking about a real simple thing where you just download the Tesla app, you go to the Supercharger, you just indicate which stall you are in, you plug in your car, even if it’s not a Tesla, and you just access the app to tell “turn on the stall that I’m in for how much electricity”, and this should work for almost any manufacturer’s electric car,” he suggested.

However, Musk confirmed that drivers of cars with older and slower charging standards would be liable to pay more for electricity at a Supercharger point.

“If the charge rate is super-slow then someone will be charged more,” he said. “We’ll also be smarter with how we charge for electricity at the Supercharger,” suggesting prices may vary according to demand or the time of day.

Tesla is currently upgrading its Superchargers so they can supply 300kW of peak charging power.

Musk also offered a few words on the motive behind opening Tesla’s Supercharger network to other electric vehicle brands, saying: “Our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy. It’s not to create a walled garden and bludgeon our competitors.”

Until now, the Tesla Supercharger network has been reserved for Tesla cars only, with the company controlling access in its older vehicles by engineering its own charging connector. More recently, though, Tesla’s cars shifted to conventional Type 2 and CCS charging sockets in some markets, with the firm restricting access to its Superchargers through a software limitation.

Using the current-generation 250kW DC Supercharger network, the new Tesla Model S Plaid can take on 320km of range in just 15 minutes. Similar charging speeds should be also achievable by other vehicles, providing their electrical systems can accept the power.

Currently, the Tesla Supercharger network comprises more than 25,000 stations worldwide, which would make EV driver’s lives a little easier when hunting for a charging socket.

However, even if the Tesla Supercharger network is opened to British EV drivers, given the size of the Supercharger network here currently, it won’t be enough to satisfy demand once the sale of pure combustion vehicles is banned in 2030.

The SMMT estimates that 700 charge points would need to be installed daily between now and the end of the decade to properly support the market. Currently, the installation rate stands at around 42 chargers per day.

Luke Wilkinson

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