Tesla opening Supercharger network to other EVs — but it's not what you think

Photograph of a white Tesla model 3 charging through the supercharger.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Tesla’s Supercharger network is one of the biggest advantages Elon Musk has when competing with the likes of Ford, Mercedes and Audi in the EV space. Given that Tesla was early in the electric car race, it had to aggressively build out its own Supercharger network to incentivize people to buy its cars.

But Tesla hasn't been as bullish in allowing other EV makers to use its Supercharger network, potentially hindering overall EV adoption.

Well, it seems that in Norway, Tesla is changing its tune on Supercharger exclusivity. According to council meeting notes from Vestland county in Norway, as obtained by Electrek, Tesla is open to expanding its Supercharger network to other EVs in exchange for economic incentives. Just don't expect this openness to translate to the U.S. yet. 

For Tesla to be eligible for government incentives in Norway, it needs to ensure Superchargers are available for the entire public. At the moment, Tesla is wanting to build five Supercharger stations in Vestland county. 

"In the application, Tesla describes the relevant charging stations will nevertheless be publicly available from the third quarter of 2022," per the Vestland county meeting minutes as translated by Google Translate. "The administration considers that the charging stations for which benefits have been applied for will then be eligible for the scheme, provided that the benefits paid out after Tesla opens the charging offer for all car brands no later than the end of September 2022."

But if Tesla doesn't fulfill its promise to make Superchargers available to all cars, Norway is willing to rescind those benefits. 

"The administration recommends that Vestland County Municipality take note that the benefit can be removed if the conditions are not met."

This is not the first time Tesla has optioned its Supercharger network to other EVs. Germany's Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said he's been in talks with Tesla for such a deal. 

"I am in direct contact with manufacturers such as Tesla in order to ensure that the existing infrastructure, for example Tesla Supercharger, is also opened up to other manufacturers," said Scheur in an interview with German newspaper Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Although, as noted by Electrek, it's easier for universal charging at Supercharger networks in Europe as Tesla employs the CCS standard for charging, unlike the proprietary connector used in the U.S.

Elon Musk also responded to YouTuber MKBHD in December of 2020 as to why other automotive manufacturers haven't taken Tesla up on the offer to use its Supercharger network. Musk responded by saying, "They are, although it’s kind low-key. Tesla Superchargers are being made accessible to other electric cars."

At the moment, Tesla has over 25,000 Superchargers with over 2,700 stations around the world. About 1,200 stations are located in the U.S. By comparison, Electrify America has 500 stations. 

Given that Tesla made the initial investment in its Supercharger network, it's not totally surprising that the company would like some government incentives to offset that initial cost. Like gas stations, EV charging stations need to be universal, or the headache of buying an electric car won't be worth it to many buyers. If America does plan on leading the EV future, then chargers that can work with all electric cars will be necessary. 

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.