Elon Musk: Tesla is in talks with other automakers about sharing the SuperCharger network (UPDATED)

Competing fast charging standards are a major impediment to electric road trips. If Tesla’s vast Supercharger network could be used by other automakers’ EVs, it would do much to remove this roadblock. Elon Musk has discussed this possibility in the past, and at a recent press conference in Germany, he hinted that it may soon become a reality.

“Our Supercharger network is not intended to be a walled garden,” said Musk. “It’s intended to be available to other manufacturers if they’d like to use it. The only requirements are that the cars must be able to take the power output of our Superchargers, and then just pay whatever their proportion their usage is of the system. We’re actually in talks with some manufacturers about doing just that, and it will be exciting to share that news.”

“The general philosophy of Tesla is to do whatever we can to accelerate the advent of electric cars,” added the Ambassador of Electrification. “Electric cars…are really the key to a sustainable future. It’s incredibly important that we transition away from fossil fuels.”

Musk also praised his hosts for being “the world’s leader in solar power.” Germany generates so much solar energy that at times supply outstrips demand, and power must be sold to neighboring countries. The solutions? More electric cars to absorb and buffer that power. And of course, stationary storage.

Updated 9/28/2015 – 2:30PM EDT
Speaking at the Economy for Tomorrow Conference in Berlin, Musk hinted at one automaker that has recently expressed interest in sharing the Supercharger network.

“The CEO of one European car company, not a German car company, has approached us recently about doing exactly that, and we’re super supportive of anyone who wants to do that.”

 

Supercharging corridors Tesla plans to enable in 2016

Tesla Superchargers USA 2016

Tesla Supercharger Europe USA 2016

Tesla Superchargers Asia 2016 copy

Tesla Superchargers Australia 2016 copy

 

Sources: Teslascope nieuws
Top Image: Jeff Cooper (CC BY 2.0)

  • Naturenut99

    It’s about time. I know Tesla has offered before. But hopefully this time the other automakers will accept.

  • ned_plimpton

    Looking at those maps, it seems pretty clear who won the Fast Charging standards war. If a few other automakers start signing up to use Tesla’s, forget about it. Then everyone will have too and it’s over for sae and chademo long term.

    • Naturenut99

      Absolutely hope that is the case.
      It’s what I’ve wanted all along.

    • Electric Bill

      It really doesn’t matter too much whether it’s Tesla’s system or someone else’s… the most important thing is that there is one agreed-upon standard so we don’t end up with an electronic equivalent of the Tower of Babel.

      The example I think of is the AM stereo standard war… if anyone is too young to have witnessed the madness over the decades, it’s all available in Wikipedia under AM Stereo. The FCC actually gave its imprimatur to a standard once or twice, but they kept changing their minds– the end result is that some other countries have an AM stereo standard, but there is no standard here in the US and no companies I know of make an AM stereo radio, and no stations broadcast it.

      Even if it does not actually happen to be the outright BEST standard, the most important thing is to have a single charge interface that everyone agrees on so that we can drive anywhere in the country (and Mexico and Canada, too, for that matter) without having to worry about standards.

      When I first got ready to be able to charge my EVs at home, I was confronted with a similar issue with a myriad of 220V outlets… Three prongs, four prongs, flat, round, curved and L – shaped prongs– about a dozen incompatible plug designs, none of which were particularly dominant.

      I wanted to be able to carry a J-plug cable to charge up my vehicles in an emergency if I ran low and found a compassionate homeowner or store willing to allow me to plug in. I finally gave up, except for having a 110V plug which would have given me a slower charge wherever I found myself.

      J-plug, Tesla, Chademo, whatever… yes, I have a preference… but a STANDARD we can rely on is the most important thing.

  • EV Safe Charge

    We applaud Elon Musk for doing the right thing for the environment and for EV growth! After doing so much for EVs with Tesla it was frustrating that he became one of the barriers to EV growth with Tesla-only chargers. We’re very excited by this news and this is a huge step forward for the EV market! Now if only the EV charging networks could have a common access for all, or at least accept credit cards at the charger…

    • Ugliest1

      I don’t think Tesla became the barrier. The other manufacturers didn’t want to make the technological leaps they would have to, to have their cars able to accept the huge amounts of power. As for connector standards, my understanding is much the same, Tesla’s will take anything from 110V/15A up to the supercharger and it is small and elegant. For the opposite in looks and less than half the power capability (and I think will only take DC), take a look at the chademo connector. No disrespect intended to Nissan or anyone … but I don’t think it’s fair to blame Tesla when they’re pushing for better, and delivering, and everyone else is dragging their feet.

    • Naturenut99

      Tesla was designing long range EV’s long before there was a fast charging standard. It is in no way them that was a barrier.

    • CMCNestT .

      Tesla was never a barrier to long range EVs, they have always been a catalyst.

      If Tesla did not exist no manufacture would make a BEV that gets over 100 mile EPA rated range before 2020.

      Nissan was planning to sell us a “luxury” Infinity LE with the same exact range as a base Nissan LEAF for 50% more money.

    • Raf

      Tesla has been beating a trail through the bushes. If they immediately let the more deep-pocketed competitors walk on the same trail, then Tesla’s energies and resources would soon be spent and the deep-pocketed competitors would have a cakewalk. The exclusivity of the Tesla charging stations has helped Tesla build a market for their cars, and if the demand for their cars ever falls off then Tesla will be out of business and have to pass their assets over to another company who may not have the same resolve and commitment. So it is good that they have been maintaining exclusivity up to now, and while it is very corporate of them to share their network now I hope that they do it in a way that doesn’t overly dilute their competitive advantage.

    • http://jpwhitehome.wordpress.com JP White

      Tesla has never restricted access to its charger network. Very early on they open sourced patents to allow other manufacturers to build cars that could use their network. Other manufacturers either can’t or won’t “kiss the ring” and join the superior Tesla Supercharger network.

      The barrier you perceive is the major car manufacturers. NOT Tesla.

    • dkd1230

      I am in agreement with this. All EV cars should be able to use the chargers otherwise it becomes unfair and I’d like to add a bit “snobby”. I previously stated in an earlier comment- should some gas stations only allow Certain brand cars to get gas at their station? Not allow of us CAN or want to pay for a Tesla. So basically, the wealthier get charged while the rest of us go no more than 80 miles before getting home. My Nissan Leaf does have a 440 charger but there are none around me. Additionally, the NYS Thruway apparently has installed some charging stations for a ridiculous fee. So again, my Leaf is my short trip car – my Honda CRV is my daytrip car. i don’t want to sit around waiting for a EV space to open or plan my travels around places to charge.

      • http://www.efest.ca Robert (Electricman) Weekley

        Per the “Not allow of us CAN or want to pay for a Tesla.”, maybe the same could be said – at Gas Stations: “Not all of us CAN or want to pay for Premium 94 Octane Fuel”, but some cars – like a Chevy Volt, or a Turbo (almost anything) – Need High Octane Fuels just to run right! You likely would not want a Tesla to be stuck charging at 30 Amps x 240VAC and trying to drive across country!!

        • dkd1230

          I know of NO gas stations who ONLY pump Premium 94 octane. We have a local mall that ONLY charge Teslas. So those who go there with EVs that are not Teslas, charge at neighboring businesses and walk to the mall. Is that fair to the other business who DOES provide to ALL types of EVs ( especially IF their business is not being supported other than by using the charger)? I think the chargers should be universal to ALL EVs otherwise if EVs DO catch on more, than the parking lots are going to be filled with numerous different types of chargers limited to a type of car.

          • jgs

            I don’t understand. Were the chargers you are complaining about built with public funds or on public land? If not, just who is it you think is being “unfair”?

            As far as I can tell, this is a business decision, nothing more, nothing less. One might argue whether Tesla’s business decision is a wise one, and many do (and with great length and passion!), but so far the results seem to speak for themselves. As with all business decisions, it’s reasonable to expect that it may change in the future as conditions dictate.

          • http://www.efest.ca Robert (Electricman) Weekley

            Have you asked the Mall – if they refused to allow standard J1772 Charging stations in their plans and installation activities, or have you just taken what you see as, it is what it is, and it is Tesla’s Fault they donated these Charging Station to the Mall? Or – were you referring to Superchargers – which no other car could handle the charging rate, for the most part, with the possible exception at present of the Kia Soul EV?

            On the other hand – we have an IKEA Store in Vaughan, Near Toronto, ON, that recently did a presentation and ‘Launch’ using the Sun Country Highway Network (Clipper Creek Charging Stations, Re-Branded) listed as 48 Amp Chargers (60 Amp Breakers) http://api.plugshare.com/view/location/70963 – or – http://www.suncountryhighway.com/en/Listing/IKEA-Vaughn – but at least at this location – really only deliver 36 Amps, but – at least any Car – Tesla or Not, can charger there!

            They also recently announced they will be installing a couple such chargers at each of their 12 Canadian Stores, Maybe they US Stores will come on board similarly next! http://www.suncountryhighway.com/en/Blog/IKEA-Sun-Country-Highway-More-Free-EV-Charging

            We are Lucky, I guess, that in the Greater Toronto Area, I see 4 IKEA markers on the SCH Map – http://www.suncountryhighway.com/en/Listings/1/?PageSize=50

            Sun Country Highway is your Friend – as far as your general thought of Universal Chargers for ALL EV’s go, but Tesla’s Destination Chargers, being essentially the ones they sell owners, go for just $750.00 – http://shop.teslamotors.com/collections/model-s-charging-adapters/products/high-power-wall-connector – so probably a bit less cost to Tesla to donate (And they have – I expect – a lot more money than the SCH [Sun CountryHighway] Team), while the equivalent CS-100 Clipper Creek Charging Station – costs $2,195.00 – http://www.clippercreek.com/store/product/charging-station-cs-100-high-power/ – so it is a bit harder to donate to Malls, etc, but still, where possible, SCH did just that to cover the Trans Canada Highway – suitable for the Tesla Roadster and any other car with similar range – like the Model S – https://suncountryhighway.com/en/home/wlghp

          • Dave_SRQ

            If you can find a company that shares your dream of building an infrastructure of super fast DC chargers in all the right locations, that happen to be compatible with all EVs, let me know. Companies only exist for one reason – to make a profit. Non-profit organizations are an exception. Either way, somebody has to pay for the infrastructure up front. We currently have a “feeding trough” of gasoline cars, service centers, independent dealerships, parts makers, oil industry to provide gasoline, etc. Nobody can figure out how to make the same kind of money off of EVs, with the fuel coming from the power utility, etc. So the other automakers would rather keep you in a gas powered car – or if you insist, they’ll sell you a hobbled EV. That’s your frustration. That, and the fact that Tesla is not a non-profit organization.

            EVs refuel at home 90% of the time, but to avoid building a hobbled car, Tesla had to also build a super fast refueling infrastructure for their cars (for when they are on road trips 10% of the time). No other partners stepped up to share the expense. Offering free fuel to Tesla owners is a marketing perk (much like “free oil changes for life” is a perk that some automakers give their customers).

      • Dave_SRQ

        Your gas station analogy is incorrect. Gas stations are constructed and operated by independent 3rd party companies for profit. There is no 3rd party company that is willing to build an infrastructure of high speed DC charging stations capable of enabling road trips. Tesla built this network for the purpose of selling road trip capable EVs. Tesla has paid tens of millions of dollars for construction expense alone. Then there is the cost of ongoing maintenance, and fuel that Tesla pays as well.

        No other automaker would do it. No energy company would do it either, at any price. Meanwhile, other automakers are just fine with making and selling hobbled EVs to the public, yet Tesla is “unfair” and “snobby” when they require other automakers to also invest to expand their superior network?

        Gas stations don’t care who refuels because everybody pays. Nissan sold you a city car that you now want to use as a roadtrip car. You get what you pay for. Good – Fast – or Cheap, (pick two). That holds true with EVs as well.

        • dkd1230

          unscribe

  • dkd1230

    As an owner of a Nissan Leaf, I would prefer efforts to be made into improving battery mileage so that I would not need to pay for charging outside of my home. In a dream world a battery that would get at least 300 miles on a charge ( in reality means like 200 because of winter weather and driving speeds) would probably greatly reduce the need for all these proposed stations.

    • Raf

      There are a “mind-boggling” number of researchers working on that problem. Tesla is working hard on it, and believes that the charge density will increase by 5% per year. In the mean time, more charging infrastructure will help people drive further afield from their homes. Here’s the article also just published in this website, which explains some of the problems with improving battery mileage: https://chargedevs.com/features/tesla-tweaks-its-battery-chemistry-a-closer-look-at-silicon-anode-development/

    • http://jpwhitehome.wordpress.com JP White

      Tesla’s approach to Rapid Charging is to build a network to allow for unrestricted travel, not just inside the EV range bubble. Oh yeah, and its free to use.

      The Model S doesn’t need public charging for local driving.

      A robust network to support interstate travel is essential for EV’s to be adopted on a large scale.

      • dkd1230

        I’m not sure what made you think it would be free. He said in the article that there would be a charge based on how much you used. Currently in our area Tesla chargers are restricted to be used ONLY by Tesla owners although I was told the chargers were actually built by Nissan. Is that not like saying only BMW drivers can by gas at Mobil stations so the rest of you cheaper cars – don’t run out of gas near a Mobil station even though it is the SAME gas? Additionally- no matter how many you manage to install – non-ev car owners park in the spots and it is not as if it takes 5 minutes to charge. So you could go to charge up and someone else has left their car there for an hour or 2 charging their car while shopping or eating nearby. For me, I only use my car far enough to recharge at home and until driving range increases, use my gas vehicle for longer distances.

        • http://jpwhitehome.wordpress.com JP White

          Supercharging for Tesla owners is free. If another manufacturer wants to participate, clearly they will have to invest in the network in one way or another. The manufacturer could charge their owners passing on their cost or like Tesla absorb the cost and make it free to the owner, their choice.

          The superchargers are restricted to cars that have the right connector and hardware/software in the car. Currently only Tesla’s support the superchargers. Tesla don’t limit the system to themselves and would love for other manufacturers to sign up.

          I very much doubt Nissan built the Tesla superchargers, that’s all Tesla. Nissan do have some units of their own built by Sumitomo.

          Using your gasoline analogy, think of it this way. If the pump nozzle was a different size and shape at Mobil gas stations compared with Shell stations, then only cars with the right inlet could use Mobil gas stations. That’s the situation with EV’s. The interface is what makes the difference between networks. Any EV can be designed to use the Tesla network and it will work fine. This situation has come about since there is no standard for Rapid Charging. A standard does exist for 240v Level 2 charging and all EV’s use the same connectors. It could be that the Tesla network will become the standard, or maybe CHADeMO or CCS will prevail. Time will tell.

          As you point out EV spaces can be blocked by other cars, it happens often at premium parking spots. Tesla install multiple rapid chargers at a single location, unlike other networks that often install just one unit. This redundancy mitigates issues with cars blocking a space or two or a unit going faulty.

        • Joel Sapp

          Firstly, Supercharging is not free for owners it is paid for upfront. If Nissan comes along and says they want access, they would have to pay based upon usage.They would then add that cost to the price of the vehicle just like Tesla does. For example if Nissans use 1/10 of all the power in the super charging network, they would have to pay for 1/10 of the costs attributed to the Supercharging network.
          I am sure the negotiations are which costs they would pay for, so they wouldn’t pay for China if they aren’t in China. They might not want to pay for a new town if no Nissans use that site. They also might want a say in new station rollout strategy.

          Secondly, I suspect if you could charge faster with a supercharging network, you would travel outside the EV bubble or better explained if a thousand Leaf drivers had the same range but faster charging, many would travel outside the 100 mile range.

  • Markkus Rovito

    That cameraman is fired.

  • http://www.pbconsultinginc.com Stephen Bieda

    I was a part of an EV start-up company that approached Tesla to access/ license use of the supercharger network last year but they flat our turned us down. That killed our business plan.

    • jgs

      That is quite interesting. Did your proposed cars meet the ” take the power output” requirement? 135kW as I recall?

    • http://www.pbconsultinginc.com Stephen Bieda

      We were planning to build to the 135 kW spec.

      • jgs

        Is there a journalist in the house? This is potentially a real story — considering Mr. Musk does so well at talking the talk, if he’s not walking the walk that’s news.

        • Raf

          Mr. Musk also does very well at walking the walk. In fact, he’s a powerhouse of action and resolve. But if you had limited amounts of cash to spend, and were developing a network which gave your company competitive advantage that helped bring in more much-needed cash, would you welcome start-up companies who wanted to piggy-back on your network and reduce your competitive advantage? I mean, if you were in a very vulnerable period of your company’s growth where bankruptcy could be a very real possibility unless your product continued to generate sales? Tesla is incredibly vulnerable right now – they absolutely must play every hand that they hold to its best advantage – In several years once they are well-established and have lots of money in the bank, then they can perhaps welcome all the many other EV start-ups that come along. But for now, their wish for other EV manufacturers to succeed must be tempered by their wish that they themselves will succeed.

          • jgs

            You may be right. But then Musk should stop saying one thing for PR effect and doing the opposite in private (IF indeed he has done so and I do NOT assert he has!). Otherwise he’s no better than VW and “Clean Diesel”.

          • Knetter

            Really cause cheating/lying to the consumers/governments buying your product is the same as making sound business decisions?

            VW’s 11 million vehicles world wide produced as much NOx pollution as roughly 500 million vehicles should have been allowed to had they complied with EPA emissions.

            There are only a little over 1 billion cars in the world.

          • jgs

            No, of course not. But the difference is a matter of degree, not kind. Once you realize you can get away with lying about little things (and again, I am NOT saying that’s what happened, just that it shouldn’t happen) then you start making bigger lies. And bigger ones. And then you become VW.

            I’m even OK with Musk saying last year “we welcome competitors to buy in to the SC network” and then this year saying “oh, actually, no” when someone proposes doing so. As you say, that’s business. What I wouldn’t be OK with would be him subsequently pretending that change of policy never happened.

            Oh by the way, has Tesla ever published the specific terms under which they license their patents? They’ve made a lot of good PR out of that too, but I’ve never seen the terms (and I’ve looked). Has anyone ever said they’re using the Tesla patents?

          • Electric Bill

            I certainly wouldn’t say NO better… anybody who stirs the pot and gets EVs front-and-center in automotive circles, deserves serious credit. Neither he nor Tesla should be vilified, when on balance what he has done is far more than simply creating a bunch of old-school diesel vehicles… whether clean-running or not, with or without chicanery.

        • http://www.pbconsultinginc.com Stephen Bieda

          i suspect we were turned down because we were an unknown company/ brand. Our prospective investors have since moved on and so have I.

          • jgs

            OK. And I’m not trying to encourage you to make this into a personal crusade. It is something for the press to either look into, or at the least stick into their back pocket to come back to if it turns into a pattern. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” and all that sort of thing.

            I like Musk. I like Tesla. A lot. But things usually don’t end well when people (even good people) persistently get a pass on having to live up to their promises. (We call people who do that professionally “politicians”.)

            Anyway, thanks for the interesting anecdote and follow-up.

      • Electric Bill

        Steven: in the future, when you post a comment, and then realize you would like to add something to it as you did above, you need not post a second comment. There is an “edit” button that allows you to do so just below any comment you post. This is also quite helpful when you post a comment and realize you’ve made one or more typographical or other errors you’d like to fix!

    • ned_plimpton

      What sort of vehicles were you planning to build?

      • http://www.pbconsultinginc.com Stephen Bieda

        A BEV full size station wagon/ CUV.

    • Maxim Zaitsev

      What was the issue?
      Any thoughts on why you were turned down?

  • Kirill Klip

    This is the last nail in the coffin of ICE cars. Electric cars are already better, we just need to make them cheaper and Tesla’s Gigafactory will make it happen. It is the major step forward if other auto-makers will be allowed to share Tesla Superchargers Network and will co-invest in rapid deployment of these Networks all over the world. We are getting very fast to the mass market for electric cars now.

    http://kirillklip.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/elon-musk-tesla-is-in-talks-with-other.html#

    • brian_gilbert

      THe current cost is cheap enough iif a switch is made to completely driverless. The vehicles can then be used all day instead of a couple of hours lowering the cost to less per mile than the present cost. Hired by the trip of course with the added advantage that you do not have to get it from its parking area or return it there.

  • Raf

    Is Renault-Nissan the other European manufacturer that Tesla is in talks with?

  • John Hohulin

    GREAT NEWS!!!

  • brian_gilbert

    Economics suggests that the coumtry will go completely driverless after 5 or 10 years. Then the charging points will be taken over by the governem t department of transport and shared by the licencees owning and hiring out all the vehicles. Current investment in chargers would be wise to bear that in mind.

    • jgs

      I suppose this could happen in some jurisdictions. The chances of government assuming the installation and maintenance of the charging network in the United States seem slim at best, however.

      • brian_gilbert

        The problem is that with the overall control of the system in the hands of the government as it has to be I cannot see a way of bringing competition into the provision of charging systems. There will be licencee offerring all types of vehicle for hire by the trip. Those licencees will want to use the nearest charging point when a vehicle needs recharging. I auppose the government could give out contracts for imstallation and maintenance of the chargers and then charge for use. The government would probably insist that existing chargers be transferred to it and pay compensation. Investors now should consider whether they would be satisfied with that compensation.
        I realise that the odds of me having all the predictions right are not good. I have been told by a banker that any business investor needs to recover their investment within 4 years so thry need not worry for a while.