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Monday, March 20, 2023

Tesla officially opens its charging network to non-Tesla cars


One of Tesla’s biggest competitive advantages in North America has been its network of chargers that, 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 can work with the Tesla charging format and other charging companies, such as EVGo, ChargePoint and Electrify America, to add Tesla-style plugs to their chargers. .

However, it is not yet clear if any other company could take up Tesla’s offer, or if any ever will.

Tesla drivers have long been able to use CCS chargers with a simple adapter that fits over the charging plug. But actually having a Tesla-style charging cable: Tesla now has he called it the “North American Charging Standard” or NACS, although it’s not some kind of official government designation, it would make the process easier and not require you to buy an adapter.

For non-Tesla vehicles, the ability to use a Tesla supercharger, the company’s name for its fast chargers, has been more complicated and requires, at best, a special adapter purchased from another company. Even then, it still may not work due to differences in the way cars communicate with the charger.

Driving a car with a Tesla-style NACS charging point will make it much easier. But so far, no automaker or charging company has announced any plans to accept Tesla’s offer that was 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 started doing so in Europe, where Tesla vehicles are equipped with a European version of the industry-standard CCS-style charging ports.

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

Under EVGo’s existing plan, called Autocharge+, Tesla drivers can use the EVGo phone app to quickly connect and start a charging session. The timing of EVGo’s promotional announcement was coincidental, said EVGo Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Levy, and EVGo currently has no plans to start putting 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 meant that the companies had to abide by Tesla’s “Patent Promise.”

Under the terms of that agreement, companies that wanted to use any Tesla technology had to agree not to sue Tesla for any kind of patent infringement or help any other company do so, essentially making Tesla’s patent-sharing offer a two way street. .

It is unclear whether Tesla’s patent commitment applies to the use of the NACS charging standard. Tesla, which does not usually respond to questions from the media, did not respond to emailed questions on the matter.

Bill Visnic, editorial director of the Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE, said he didn’t think automakers would accept Tesla’s offer. CCS is a standard developed by SAE in conjunction with a consortium of automobile manufacturers.

“There’s a lot of important work and collaboration going on there,” he said.

However, even Visnic admitted that Tesla chargers tend to be more reliable and easier to use than other public chargers.

As for charging companies, Visnic said, they likely want to keep their chargers using the CCS standard, since Tesla already has a larger network of chargers and many Tesla drivers can easily use an adapter. (Some Tesla vehicles do not work with CCS adapters).

But charging companies may want to add these cables because they could attract new customers, said Jim Burness, chief executive of National Car Charging, a wholesaler of equipment for the electric vehicle charging industry. Burness owns a Tesla as his personal vehicle.

“This will help owners of older Teslas who would otherwise not only have to buy an adapter, but also pay to upgrade their car if the plug is right there at the station,” he said.

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