Tesla aims to rollout a Supercharger network that’s double in size later this year. It would be a sorely needed investment for electric vehicle infrastructure across the U.S. Now, the company is once again floating the possibility of opening up the network to other automakers. And it should.
The initial consideration of giving other vehicles access to the Supercharger network came in late 2015, when Tesla CEO Elon Musk said it’s “intended to be available to other manufacturers if they’d like to use it.” The Supercharger network is a robust offering of charging stations for Tesla’s all-electric vehicles, so Musk’s remarks were notable for that reason alone.
But there hasn’t been serious discussion about it since, until this weekend, when Tesla CTO JB Straubel disclosed that it’s apparently still discussing the potential for other automakers to use Superchargers. Electrek first noted his comments, which came at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s 28th Annual Energy Fair in Wisconsin. Here’s more of what he said, via Electrek:
When talking about Tesla sharing its IP with other automakers, Straubel said:
“For things like Supercharger, we are actively talking to other car makers and we are trying to figure out a structure to work with them.”
Though he also acknowledged that congestion was still a problem on the network.
There’s some potential hiccups to the idea. Say Tesla succeeds in pushing out 500,000 cars in 2018, a goal Musk has repeatedly stated. Surely that’ll put added stress on the Supercharger network’s capacity; reports of overcrowded stations are familiar. Tesla said last year it’ll phase out free charging for owners, as it said it would help expand the size of the Supercharger network. (The automaker brought back the perk, but only for owners who purchase a vehicle through a reference.)
But with the additions to the network—Tesla, for instance, says some of the newer stations will be able to accommodate “several dozen” vehicles at once—congestion is expected to be less of an issue. And with newer vehicles on the road that can utilize the DC fast-charging capabilities of a Supercharger—Electrek points out the planned announcements from Porsche, Audi and Mercedes-Benz—that means more cars could charge up faster, creating an even more streamlined process.
If EVs can catch on, infrastructure’s going to be needed. Tesla already has a decent-sized charging network in place. Giving other carmakers a slice of the action helps solve part of that problem. It seems like a no-brainer.