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Guide: Some Tesla Superchargers now open to other EV brands

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

Tesla superchargers

As part of its deal with the federal government, Tesla has opened a portion of its Supercharging network to owners of other EV brands. Adding the automaker’s chargers to the system increases the chances of finding a stopping point on a long trip and can help improve the EV ownership experience for many drivers. At the same time, it may increase congestion and make wait times longer for Tesla owners and others, so let’s take a look at what this means to people on both sides of the fence.

Tesla Supercharger Facts

The Supercharger network created a significant advantage for Tesla owners and gave the automaker a leg up in the EV marketplace early on. It continues to be one of the most seamless and least irritating charging options, but until recently, the network has been closed off to owners of outside EV brands. Here’s what you need to know about the Supercharging network:

  • Tesla has more than 40,000 Superchargers worldwide
  • The chargers offer up to 250kW charging speed
  • The network includes Superchargers and destination chargers at end-point locations
  • Chargers can be located using the Tesla app
  • The pilot charging program is only available for cars with CCS connectors

Tesla Supercharger Pilot Program

As part of its push to expand charger availability in the U.S., the Biden-Harris Administration released a fact sheet outlining the steps required to reach a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers along highways and in communities. The White House’s goal is for EVs to comprise half of new vehicle sales by 2030, and a robust, reliable charging network is a significant step to reaching that target.

Tesla was already piloting a program to allow other EV brands into its charging network, but its deal with the federal government will accelerate those efforts. The automaker will open 7,500 chargers across the U.S., including at least 3,500 of the vaunted 250-kW Superchargers and thousands of Level 2 Destination Chargers at hotels, restaurants, and more remote locations.

Tesla superchargers

How to access Tesla Superchargers

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to access and use Tesla Superchargers if you own a non-Tesla EV:

  1. You’ll need to download the Tesla App for iOS or Android phones
  2. Create a Tesla account
  3. Add a payment credit card. You can add, edit, and remove cards in the app or online
  4. Select “Charge Your Non-Tesla” and use the search tool to locate a Supercharger
  5. Select a charging stall, unlock the adapter, plug in the car, and tap “Start Charging”

Some Supercharger locations are enormous, so you’ll need to know how to locate your charger. Tesla labels each Supercharger post with a unique identifier. If the charger you’ve selected is labeled “3C,” then select “3C” in the app to charge. You must remove the connector within 30 seconds of selection and plug it in within two minutes, or the app will require you to start over.

This pilot program is only available to electric vehicles with CCS connectors, so you won’t be able to participate if your vehicle uses the less common CHAdeMO connector type. The good news is that many EVs have CCS, so there’s a good chance you’re in the clear. Check before you head to a Supercharger location. 

Teslas have charging ports on the left rear part of the vehicle, but other automakers locate the ports in different places. Supercharger cables and stalls are designed for Tesla vehicles, so you may need to do some maneuvering to get your car in the correct position. Given the volume of vehicles that charge at Supercharger locations, it’s important not to position your vehicle awkwardly to block other stalls. 

When you’re done charging, move your vehicle and avoid blocking the stall for others. Tesla requires idle fees for cars that sit after completing their charge, ranging from $.50 per minute when the station is half full to $1.00 per minute when it is 100 percent occupied.

Though Superchargers are generally reliable, damage and downtime do occur. The Tesla app is a solidly dependable way to view locations that are operable or down, making it easy to determine whether a stop is worthwhile.

Tesla Superchargers

Costs at Tesla Superchargers

Tesla said that pricing for other EV brands “reflects additional costs incurred to support charging a broad range of vehicles and adjustments to our sites to accommodate these vehicles.” Charging rates vary by site, but you can view the rate for each location in the Tesla app, and the automaker offers a charging membership to lower the costs. Current Tesla owners can continue charging at the same price.

Frequently asked questions

You’ve got questions about Superchargers, so let’s answer some of them!

Will Tesla open more Superchargers over time?

This pilot program does not represent the full rollout of Superchargers to outside EV brands, so we’ll see more chargers open over time. It’s unclear how the effort could expand beyond the initial 7,500-charger program is complete.

How fast will my EV charge at a Supercharger?

Superchargers offer up to 250kW speed, but your vehicle’s charging time and speed depend heavily on its onboard charger and electrical architecture. Older EVs don’t have the same capability as newer models, so expect longer charging times.

Tesla superchargers

Can I use the Tesla app to charge all my EVs?

Yes. You can store your Tesla vehicles in the app and use the same tools to access charging for any non-Tesla EVs that you own.

Can I charge at Superchargers outside the U.S.?

This pilot program is limited to a handful of countries, and neither of the United States’ neighbors (Canada and Mexico) are on the list. 

Are Tesla Destination Chargers fast chargers?

Destination chargers are considered Level 2 chargers, which offer up to 19 kW speeds, far short of what’s considered a fast charger. That said, they are located where Superchargers and larger fast chargers are impractical and can provide crucial driving range when you’re off the beaten path.

Will Tesla Superchargers damage my car?

No. Charging at a Tesla location is no more damaging to your EV than charging at Electrify America, EVGo, or other sites.

Tesla superchargers

I can’t find any Superchargers. What are my options?

Your EV may offer charging navigation tools in the infotainment system, but if that’s not the case, several apps can help you locate a charging location. Plugshare is an excellent tool for finding out-of-the-way chargers, and you can also find locations at many auto dealership locations. 

What else is happening with chargers in the U.S.?

The government has tapped several companies and industries to contribute to the charger buildout effort. Pilot, GM, and EVGo are working together to build 2,000 350kW fast chargers at Pilot and Flying J locations, and the first 200 will be available in 2023. Electrify America is partnering with TravelCenters of America and others to build 1,000 chargers over the next five years. Soon, we’ll see chargers at Starbucks and other locations as well, so the network will proliferate over the next few years. 

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