Tesla has brought up the idea of opening up its Supercharger network to other automakers several times over the years, but a recent comment by CTO JB Straubel has fueled conjecture that talk may soon evolve into action.
Speaking at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s recent Energy Fair in Wisconsin, Straubel said, “For things like Supercharger, we are actively talking to other car makers and we are trying to figure out a structure to work with them.”
Actually, Elon Musk said something similar back in 2015. However, Electrek points out that there are three reasons to believe that the time is ripe. In the past, Supercharging was free, so allowing drivers or other brands to use the network would have required developing some kind of tracking and payment system. Now Tesla has established a payment structure, and has introduced such a system, which could presumably be easily adapted to accommodate vehicles from other automakers.
Tesla has also joined the Charging Interface Initiative, which promotes the CCS fast charging standard used by other US and European automakers (and now by one Japanese brand), a sign that it’s open to collaborating with other automakers to help improve charging technology for the good of all.
Finally, several automakers are experimenting with higher charging power levels. One argument against opening the Supercharger network to other brands was that none of them could take advantage of Tesla’s higher charging rates (up to 145 kW). However, Porsche recently demonstrated an 800-volt charging system (double the voltage of the current CCS standard), and Audi and Mercedes have each announced upcoming EVs that will be able to handle higher DC charging rates. As the technology develops, more cooperation will surely benefit everyone – especially EV drivers.