Tesla has officially opened its charging network to non-Tesla cars



CNN

One of Tesla’s biggest competitive advantages in North America is that its charging network, for the most part, can only charge Tesla vehicles.

Tesla chargers outnumber so-called CCS chargers, the kind used by Ford, General Motors, Audi, Rivian and others, by a factor of two to one, according to Tesla. Now, Tesla has invited other automakers to build cars with charging ports that work with Tesla’s charging format and for other charging companies, such as EVGo, ChargePoint and Electrify America, to add Tesla-style plugs to their chargers.

It’s not yet clear whether any other companies might take Tesla up on the offer, or if any will.

Tesla drivers have long been able to use CCS chargers with a simple adapter that fits into the charging plug. But it actually has a Tesla style charging cord – Tesla has it now It’s called the “North American Charger Standard,” or NACS, although that’s not the official government designation of sorts — it makes the process easier and doesn’t require the purchase of an adapter.

For non-Tesla vehicles, the ability to use the Tesla Supercharger – the company’s name for its fast charger – is more complicated and requires, at best, a special adapter purchased from some other company. Even so, it still doesn’t work because of differences in how the car communicates with the charger.

Driving a car with a Tesla-style NACS charging point will make it easier. But no automaker and no charging company has, so far, announced any plans to acquire Tesla in the bid announced in a blog post on Friday.

The company and its CEO, Elon Musk, have spoken before about opening up its charging network to non-Tesla vehicles. the company has began to do so in Europe where Tesla vehicles are equipped with the European version of the industry standard CCS style charging port.

On the same day Tesla announced its offer for other companies to use its charging format, charging company EVGo announced a temporary offer for Tesla drivers with CCS adapters to use EVGo fast charging stations without paying a monthly subscription fee.

Under EVGo’s existing plan, called Autocharge+, Tesla drivers can use the EVGo phone app to plug in and quickly start a charging session. The timing of EVGo’s promotional announcement is not coincidental, said EVGo Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Levy, and EVGo currently has no plans to begin placing Tesla charging cables at its stations.

In the past, Tesla has offered to allow other companies to use various Tesla-patented technologies, but doing so means the company must abide by Tesla’s “Patent Oath.”

Under the terms of the agreement, companies that want to use Tesla’s technology must agree not to sue Tesla for any kind of patent infringement or help other companies to do so, essentially offering Tesla a two-way patent split. .

It is unclear if Tesla’s Patent Oath applies to the use of NACS charging standards. Tesla, which generally does not respond to questions from the media, did not respond to emailed questions on the topic.

Bill Visnic, editorial director for the Society of Automotive Engineers or SAE, said he doesn’t think automakers will take Tesla up on the offer. CCS is a standard developed by SAE and a consortium of car manufacturers.

“There’s a lot of work and collaboration that’s important to that,” he said.

Even Visnic admits, though, that Tesla chargers tend to be more reliable and easier to use than other public chargers.

In terms of charging companies, Visnic said, they probably want to keep charging using the CCS standard because Tesla already has a larger network of chargers and many Tesla drivers can use the adapter. (Some Tesla vehicles do not use CCS adapters.)

But charging companies may want to add these cables because they can bring new customers, said Jim Burness, CEO of National Car Charging, a wholesaler of equipment for the EV charging industry. Burness owns a Tesla as his personal vehicle.

“This will help owners of old Teslas who will have to say not only buy an adapter, but also pay for a retrofit of their car if the plug is right there in the station,” he said.

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