Tesla to allow rival electric cars to use its Supercharger network

Scheme will initially see 15 sites in the UK opened up to non-Tesla owners, and is likely to expand across the country...

Tesla charging station with Tesla Model S cars

Most electric car drivers will soon be able to use the Tesla proprietary Supercharger charging network, as part of a new pilot scheme by the firm.

Some 158 chargers will be open to the public across 15 sites in the UK, where they were previously reserved exclusively for owners of the US car maker's models – the Model S, the Model 3, the Model X and the Model Y.

The sites opening up as part of the trial are: Aberystwyth, Adderstone, Aviemore, Banbury, Birmingham St Andrews, Cardiff, Dundee, Flint, Folkestone Eurotunnel, Grays, Manchester Trafford Centre, Thetford, Trumpington, Uxbridge and Wokingham.

Drivers of non-Tesla electric cars will be able to use the network through the Tesla smartphone app. This will show whether a particular charge point is compatible with their car, and whether it is vacant or in use.

For £10.99 per month, new users can purchase a subscription to the service, entitling them to a reduction in charging costs per kWh.

Non-members can charge at an average price of 60p per kWh – more than double the 28p per kWh rate paid by current Tesla drivers at most chargers, although this varies by location. Nonetheless, this non-member rate is competitive with rival operators such as Instavolt and Ionity, which charge a flat 57p and 69p per kWh, respectively.

Tesla charging station with Model 3 21-plate

Tesla is yet to clarify whether other brands’ cars will be able to charge at the same 150kW speeds as its own models. 

To use the Superchargers, an electric car must have a CCS-type connector. These sockets are found on most current electric cars including the Kia Niro EV and Volkswagen ID 3, but not earlier models such as the 2011-2018 Nissan Leaf, which instead uses CHAdeMO and Type 1 sockets.

The pilot scheme might cause controversy among Tesla owners. The exclusivity – and availability – of Tesla’s charging network could be regarded as a factor in their decision to purchase a car from the brand instead of an alternative make. Tesla has said that it will monitor congestion at the 15 sites involved in this pilot scheme.

A similar pilot scheme from Tesla has been underway in France and Norway since November 2021, and across all its charge points in the Netherlands since February 2022.

Red Tesla Model 3 front cornering

In a statement posted to its website, the American brand said that it had “always been our ambition to open the Supercharger network to Non-Tesla EVs, and by doing so, encourage more drivers to go electric.” It also confirmed that the scheme will “aggressively expand” in the future.

The Tesla Supercharger network finished first place in the recent What Car? charging survey, in which it attained the highest scores for charging speed, ease of use, location and value for money. It was also the second-most reliable network, second only to Instavolt.

According to charging app Zap-Map, Tesla had the most rapid (25-99kW) and ultra-rapid (100kW+) charging points of any provider in the UK as of the end of April 2022, with 880. This was followed by BP Pulse with 795 and Instavolt with 764.

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