After years of withholding access to its proprietary charging network, Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently revealed the company would open its Supercharger access to owners of other manufacturers' electric vehicles. Now, Musk has outlined his firm's plans during an earnings call with investors.
The rough plan goes like this: EV (electric vehicle) owners will need to download the Tesla app and register their vehicle and payment methods.
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They will then need to head to a Supercharger location and use the app to indicate which stall they are in. The driver can then indicate how long they want the charging session to last. Musk says he expects this to work with almost any manufacturer's electric cars.
Musk clarified that charging services would be available to EV drivers in markets where Tesla uses the CCS charging standard (which includes the UK and Europe).
Tesla uses a proprietary connector in North America, but will offer a charging adapter to non-Tesla EV owners. The adapter will also be made available at the Supercharger stations themselves.
Analysis: trouble ahead?
The move to open the Supercharger network is a controversial one for existing Tesla customers, as it can already be difficult to access a charger in some areas.
High demand has led to extended wait times and difficulty finding a charger at times. In response to these concerns, Musk noted that Tesla plans to introduce dynamic pricing based on demand and charging traffic in specific locations, aiming to encourage drivers to initiate shorter charging sessions.
As far as what this means, the outcome will be split down the middle along the lines of Tesla owners and non-Tesla owners.
For Tesla owners, especially those in crowded urban areas, the influx of even more competition for a charging spot will likely be an unwelcome development. Dynamic pricing will help, but those rate increases will affect everyone, regardless of the vehicle they're driving.
Non-Tesla owners have nothing to lose and everything to gain from expanded access to charging, regardless of the price.
Superchargers are the only chargers in some parts of the United States, making it nearly impossible to own and drive an electric car unless the buyer is willing and able to install a charging station at home.
In rural areas, or in areas where the population density makes building a charging station economically infeasible, any additional charging access makes it easier for existing EV owners to charge and makes it more likely that more people will buy and drive an electric vehicle.
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After working in the technology and software industry for several years, Chris began writing as a way to help people outside of that world understand the sometimes very technical work that goes on behind the scenes. With a lifelong love of all things automotive, Chris turned his attention to writing new vehicle reviews, detailing industry trends, and breaking news. Along the way, he earned an MBA with a focus on data analysis that has helped him gain a strong understanding of why the auto industry’s biggest companies make the decisions they do.