TESLA has started trials to make its Supercharger network available to all compatible cars for the first time in the UK, opening the extensive network up to a large number of EV drivers.
The move comes as part of Tesla’s wider-reaching project to expand access to its Supercharger public EV charging network, which until recently was only able to be used by drivers of Tesla vehicles.
A total of 15 sites are part of the UK’s trial scheme, accounting for almost 160 chargers. Drivers of electric vehicles fitted with a CCS inlet are able to use the charge points, which have a tethered connector.
Tesla drivers benefit from a “plug & charge” access system, with no need for RFID cards or apps to start or stop the charge point. Instead, the car is linked to an account which bills the driver for the electricity used when charging on Supercharger units.
Drivers of other makes will need to access the chargers using Tesla’s app, but can use them on an ad hoc basis. By entering a credit/debit card, name, and billing address, the driver then picks the charge point they are plugged in to and starts the charge.
The network is compatible with all EVs that use the CCS inlet, but there is no option for those driving the likes of the Nissan Leaf or Lexus UX 300e to charge on the devices, since these use the CHAdeMO standard.
Tesla charging inlets are all positioned in the same spot, no matter the model, with access at the very rearmost section of the 3/4 panel, incorporated into the rear lights/reflectors. As such, there will be some issues with drivers of other models using the charge points in the same way.
Using the Tesla Supercharger Network With A Non-Tesla
There was only one other car here – a Tesla – so I didn’t feel worried about blocking two spaces, because there is no way a Tesla cable would reach the charge port on the iX3 if I parked in the correct space. I then went over chat to the Tesla owner who was also charging. He was fine with non-Teslas having access to the Tesla superchargers. ‘Everything will be electric soon, so it doesn’t matter’ was his approach.
For example, some EVs have their inlets positioned on the driver’s side, rather than the nearside of the vehicle, and others have them at the front of the car near the grille (unlikely to see many issues there) or off to one side between the front wheels and doors – this latter point, in particular the likes of Porsche and Audi, will cause some challenges in physically being able to plug the car in particularly in a busy Supercharger location, as they will need to park in another Supercharger’s bay.
There is likely to be some backlash from Tesla drivers as, until now, the network has been at the vanguard of public EV charging. It was limited to Tesla drivers only, and designed as such, with plug & charge capability, strong reliability scores, high-power charging, and relatively cheap costs.
Tesla drivers will retain these benefits, but usage of the network is likely to go up While this will bring in additional revenue for Tesla, which it has said it will reinvest into Supercharger sites, and expand options for EV drivers, the added business will cause waiting times at certain sites.
However, non-Tesla drivers will pay almost twice the cost to charge, at more than 60p/kWh typically, though this can be reduced by paying a subscription fee – currently £10.99 per month – for those expecting to regularly charge on the network’s points.
Equally, it is a beneficial move for drivers who venture into Europe, since a number of other sites have been opened up across the continent in a similar manner. Should the trials prove successful, Tesla expects to expand the project to include all sites in due course.
By comparison, the other CCS-only, high-power, pan-European EV charging network, Ionity, charges 69p/kWh for those not signed up to a manufacturer-backed tariff.
Where Non-Teslas Can Use Tesla Supercharger Sites
- St Andrews
- Folkestone Eurotunnel
- Manchester Trafford Centre
- Trumpington (Cambridge)