European Electric Vehicle Owners Discover Bug in Tesla Superchargers

Electric vehicle owners in Europe have discovered a bug that allows them to charge non-Tesla vehicles at Tesla Superchargers. In Europe, Tesla Model 3 vehicles make use of a common EV charging standard known as the Combined Charging System (CCS). Even with this standard, Tesla’s Superchargers are supposed to use a special “handshake” protocol with computers integrated into Model 3 vehicles before they allow charging.

This is supposed to allow charging to be associated with a specific Tesla owner’s account to track usage even though charging is currently free. However, Tesla’s recent integration of the CCS standard apparently introduced a loophole into this system that made it possible to charge other vehicles.

An electric car rental company known as Nextmove was the first to notice this loophole, which allowed it to use Supercharger stations to charge its fleet of cars, which included electric models from VW, BMW, Opel, Hyundai, Porsche, and Renault. So far, there is no word on whether Nextmove has been in contact with Tesla about a move that could be seen as stealing electricity. However, it is a case for greater cooperation between electric vehicle manufacturers.

Common Standards Are Needed for Wider Adoption of Electric Cars

A map of Tesla’s Superchargers in the United States. Image credit Tesla.

The integration of CCS may have been part of a wider bid by Tesla to encourage greater adoption of electric cars by adopting common standards for its charging system. Tesla does not appear to have issued a statement on the apparent flaw in its Superchargers, but has indicated that it might be willing to work with other electric vehicle manufacturers to create a common charging network and share the associated costs. Other manufacturers have already made deals with charging networks like Ionity and Electrify America.

Steps like this may appeal to consumers who may be interested in owning a Tesla, but have hesitated due to concern about lack of available charging stations and limitations in the range of most electric cars. As the above map shows, Tesla Superchargers already exist in many major U.S. cities and along major interstate highways with more on the way, but consumers may not realize that. A gas vehicle can be refilled at nearly any gas station regardless of the brand of either the car or the gas station due to widely accepted common standards. Widespread adoption of electric vehicles will require the same convenience even if that convenience amounts to charging functionality in owners’ garages and a special section in public parking lots and garages that have charging stations for electric vehicles.

Before this happens, Tesla is likely to work behind the scenes to fix the bug in its European Superchargers that allow owners of non-Tesla electric vehicles to get a charge for free.