In typically abrupt fashion, Tesla’s CEO replied to a question about why other carmakers aren’t using the company’s technology. “They are, although it’s kind low-key. Tesla Superchargers are being made accessible to other electric cars.”, Elon tweeted in response.
It’s unclear what exactly he means by that; whether this is an operation that’s currently underway, or just a plan for the future. ‘Low-key’ suggests Tesla are working with at least one other manufacturer who haven’t yet announced their use of Superchargers. If so, one likely candidate would be Aptera, as they used an image of a Tesla connector in one of their promotional videos – but they are still in the early stages of production, so that glimpse is no promise of the final product.
Tesla actually opened up its patents to its competitors as long ago as 2014 – but there’s been radio silence since then, with no automakers seeming to take up the offer. Of course, getting to use Tesla’s technology wouldn’t come as an act of charity, and doing so would mean competing EV makers tacitly admitting that Tesla does charging better than them. And, as always, the small print is more complex, implying that the company would have to allow Tesla unfettered access to its own IP in return.
It’s possible Elon is merely referring to the recent flaw that occurred when Tesla switched their EU Superchargers to use the standard CCS connectors – briefly, other EVs were able to use the new chargers for free, thanks to a bug. More likely, though, is that the same switch that caused the bug has made it easier to integrate other types of EV to the Tesla network, at least in Europe.
In the US, non-Tesla owners wanting access to the Superchargers would need an adaptor. Tesla might be planning to switch the CCS in the US as well, but this would be an unpopular move with many Tesla maniacs, for whom the aesthetically pleasing charger design is one of the many selling points they see as superior.
Some Tesla drivers reacted to the tweet with trepidation, as opening up Superchargers to other cars would mean a major increase in demand and wait times for the faster network. On the other hand, many recognised that it would be a step forward, especially in the US, for high-speed charging to become standardised. As one Reddit user put it:
There is no Toyota gas pump. There is no Ford gas pump. A gas pump is a gas pump. (…) The Tesla Supercharging network could be like any company selling fuel but instead selling electricity for EVs. The stalls are always full? Build more stalls.maxhac03
It’s certainly true that too much demand for EV charging would only be a positive change in the long run. However, as with all of Elon’s remarks, it’s probably best to take this one with a really, really big grain of salt.