One of Tesla’s biggest assets is it expansive Supercharger network, now approaching 20,000 stalls at over 2,000 stations around the world.
As of right now, only Tesla vehicles can charge at one of the stations. During the Q1 2018 earnings call, CEO Elon Musk said he would allow other auto manufacturers to access the network, saying “This is not a walled garden.”
Despite the generous offer, no automaker has taken them up on the offer, giving Tesla owners exclusive use of the Supercharger network.
But it appears that’s not the case right now in Europe.
North American vs European Superchargers
The difference between the North American and European Superchargers is the connectors. On this side of the pond, we are familiar with the basic Tesla connector, but in Europe they are equipped with a combo Type 2/CCS connector. Almost all electric vehicle (EV) in the region come with a CCS plug.
That means any EV owner could technically plug in at a Supercharger, but nothing would happen as there would be no ‘handshake’ between the charger and the car to authorize the session (to know who you are, and how to bill you).
According to some videos and social media reports coming from Europe, the latest V3 Superchargers are missing that key handshake, allowing any EV to plug in and get a free charge.
Videos of other EVs successfully Supercharging
So far there are several pieces of evidence showing a Volkswagen eGolf, Hyundai Kona, and Renault ZOE all plugging in and receiving a charge at a V3 Supercharger. While our German is a bit rough (ok, we can’t speak German at all), the first video clearly shows the VW eGolf plugged in with the CCS connector, and the dash light flashing indicating it is receiving a charge.
The Renault ZOE video is even clearer, with the car showing a remaining time of 30 minutes to fully charge. We can also see the available range increasing from 277km to 278km in the short clip.
UPDATE: Another video has now surfaced, showing a Porsche Taycan, VW ID.3, and more getting free juice at a Tesla Supercharger.
What will Tesla do? (WWTD)
There are obviously a number of issues with this taking place. The first is other EVs should not be able to charge at a Supercharger. Based on comments from others after these videos surfaced, they are not able to use the V2 Superchargers. This likely means there is something missing from the V3 units where it is not authenticating the vehicle and the owner.
The other big concern is high Supercharger usage, all of which would be free. Since they can’t ‘handshake’ with the car, there is no way to bill the EV owner for the electricity they use. EV adoption in Europe is also much higher in Europe, potentially leading to Tesla owners being blocked by other EV owners using the Superchargers.
Based on a media report out of Germany, a local non-profit association of Tesla drivers have already reached out to their contacts at the automaker. According to the report, the Tesla employee “was surprised and announced an immediate review.”
Since this seems to be an oversight on Tesla’s part, albeit a very big one, it will be no surprise if Tesla fixes this as quickly as they can.