When Tesla began making electric cars, it also became the first automaker to produce chargers for electric vehicles. Because it was the only automaker that was actually making EVs when it started out (and is still the only automaker that exclusively produces EVs), the Supercharger was a proprietary technology that only worked with Tesla vehicles.
Now Elon Musk says that Tesla will open up its network of Superchargers to electric vehicles manufactured by other automakers later this year. Tesla had already had plans to make the Superchargers available to EV owners in Norway and was in talks with German officials to do the same in Germany. Now it has plans to allow other EVs access to its worldwide network of over 25,000 Superchargers.
The move will certainly be a welcome one, going by the reactions on Twitter. Some EV owners reported long lines for the more “generic” chargers at charging stations. Others who own Tesla vehicles expressed concern that they might have to wait their turn behind EVs made by Tesla’s competitors, a problem that could be solved by making the millions of chargers that experts say will be needed when EVs become the norm available to the public.
Volkswagen is the only other automaker to invest in charging stations for electric vehicles with its stake in Electrify America, although it had not planned to create proprietary chargers like Tesla did. Other companies that make charging stations include Blink Charging, EVgo, and ChargePoint. These charging stations, which follow new industry standards for charging of electric vehicles, can be found alongside Superchargers at stations like Fastned’s solar-powered installation in Düsseldorf, Germany and a planned Oxford Superhub, which will include 38 charging stations, including 12 Superchargers.
Owners of other EVs will still need to carry adapters in order to charge their vehicles at Tesla’s proprietary Superchargers until Tesla can get its connectors switched over to the industry standard. There is a chance that it may simply choose to develop and sell the adapters, though this move might prove unpopular with owners of EVs made by other auto manufacturers.
Longtime watchers of Elon Musk and his companies may wonder if he has simply presented another timeline for a new product or update to an existing product that might slip. Musk has even admitted that creating a fully autonomous vehicle that can drive itself is more difficult than it looks after several delays from the original timeline in getting Full Self-Driving up to Level 5 on the Society of Automotive Engineers’ scale of the capabilities of driver assist programs.
Elon Musk has not given up on the effort, though. The company recently released Full Self-Driving Version 9 beta, though the $1,500 price for the required hardware did reportedly irk some customers. Tesla has apparently knocked the price back to $1,000 in response to backlash from customers.
It will take time to switch over 25,000 Superchargers in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia or distribute adapters for competitors’ EVs. Tesla may surprise people by completing the job by the end of December 2021, though.