No, Tesla Stations Aren’t Open To All EVs (Yet)

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A recent article at the San Francisco Chronicle leads with (as of this writing) a headline saying, “Tesla superchargers in California now available for all EVs.” The paywalled article cites a social media post by Governor Gavin Newsom, but there’s just one problem: the headline is completely false, at least for now. It should be true later this year, though (more on this below).

The post by Gavin Newsom is also a little hard to understand, saying that the Tesla supercharging network “is opening to non-Tesla vehicles.” In the video, Newsom pulls up to a Supercharger in a Mustang Mach-E, plugs it in, and then gets into more detail, saying Tesla is opening up to “additional models” (which is correct right now).

I don’t think either the Chronicle or Gavin Newsom are trying to be dishonest. But I do fear that people who know next to nothing about electric vehicles will see this and think that every EV can charge at Tesla’s Superchargers, when we aren’t there just yet. This could lead to people getting stranded or suffering a lot of inconvenience when they find out that it isn’t true (yet).

What’s Really Going On, Then?

Part of what they’re saying is true. Tesla really is opening up the network to other EVs. Last year, Ford shocked the EV world when it announced that a deal had been struck giving Ford EV drivers access to the Supercharger network. But the Supercharger network uses a proprietary Tesla plug for charging, and Ford’s EVs use the CCS1 connector. So, the announcement wasn’t that anybody would get access that day, or even that year. The story was that adapters would be available sometime in 2024, and only then would access open to Ford’s vehicles.

Later, sometime in 2025, Ford’s vehicles will start shipping with the Tesla connector, which has since been renamed the NACS connector, an open standard any EV can use and any EV charging company can offer.

After Ford’s announcement, other companies really didn’t have any choice but to strike their own deals with Tesla. Other charging infrastructure was both geographically limited and often unreliable in 2023 compared to Tesla’s network, so Ford got a huge competitive edge. So, a week later, GM made the announcement. Then, another and another and another. By the end of 2023, almost every automaker had made their own announcement.

Only Two Other Companies’ EVs Can Use Tesla Superchargers Right Now

As of this writing (on the last day of April 2024), only two companies have gotten as far as both supplying adapters and giving their drivers access to the Supercharger network: Ford and Rivian. Ford was the first company to start shipping free adapters to customers, and then a few weeks later, Rivian did the same. Charging can be started either in Tesla’s app or it can be started via Ford or Rivian’s apps. Plug&Charge is also available, but must be configured ahead of time for billing information.

Other companies that announced last year are gearing up to do this, too, but final arrangements with Tesla have not been made and official adapters are not available yet. If you plug any other EV into a Tesla Supercharger station, you’ll get an error saying that the vehicle is not authorized.

Online rumors (which a trusted source has confirmed with me) say that GM is getting ready to offer adapters. There’s a part number in GM’s system, and a price of $25. GM might offer the adapters for free to people, and charge $25 for a replacement, or the company might charge everyone $25. No announcement has been made as of this writing, but it seems like that announcement is likely coming soon!

Not All Superchargers Are Open To Other EVs

Another very important thing to understand in 2024 is that not all of Tesla’s stations are going to be open to other EVs.

The problem? Older Tesla charging stations only communicate with vehicles using a proprietary Tesla protocol. Other EVs might be able to physically use the adapter to plug in at these stations, but when the car and the charger are speaking different languages, no charging is going to happen.

Newer Tesla charging stations (versions 3 and 4) have newer hardware that can both speak the Tesla language and speak the CCS language other EVs are expecting to be able to use at charging stations. Because the adapters are just metal and plastic, and connect Tesla’s pins to CCS pins, the charger needs this capability.

So, if you’re looking for a charge, don’t assume you can pull up to any Tesla station in another EV. You’ll need to check Tesla’s app first to make sure it’s compatible. You can also turn on a filter in the popular PlugShare app to filter out Tesla stations that don’t work with other vehicles yet.

Eventually, Tesla will likely upgrade these older stations to work with all EVs and give faster charging speeds, but that hasn’t happened yet.

New EV Drivers and People Renting EVs Need To Know About This

EV enthusiasts and regular readers of EV publications like this one probably know all this, but it’s important to keep in mind that not everybody follows the latest EV news and not everyone knows about the vagaries of EV charging while the industry makes the transition to NACS. So, it’s up to us enthusiasts and industry insiders to get the word out and help keep people out of trouble for now.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to a sad story about a woman who rented an EV and had no idea how to charge it!

Imagine you’re in her shoes, you rent an EV, and you heard from California’s governor (the leader of a state with a bigger population and economy than many developed countries) that your EV should be able to charge at a Supercharger. But, with the battery getting low, you pull into a Supercharger, plug the thing in, and nothing happens.

[Editor’s note: I’ve also been at a Tesla Supercharger in Florida where someone who rented a Kia EV6 had pulled up expecting to be able to charge and was pretty far from a non-Tesla fast charger he could actually use. And he wasn’t going in that direction. Not a good experience. Incidentally, he had tried to rent a Tesla, but they didn’t have any at the time. —Zach]

Do we really want people to have this be their first EV charging experience? Hell no! So, we need to be spreading the word, reaching out to our local rental businesses, getting dealers into the conversation, and making sure everyone learns what’s really going on here.

Hopefully, in 2025, when everyone has an adapter and everyone can use any charger, things will be a lot better. But, in 2024, we need to be helping each other out.

Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.


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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba