Tesla talks to rivals about use of its Supercharger network

Tesla Motors Supercharger station in Oxnard, California.

Tesla Motors Supercharger station in Oxnard, California.

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Owners of non-Tesla vehicles may someday find themselves using one of Tesla’s Supercharger stations if the “active talks” the Californian firm has disclosed lead anywhere.

Yes, Tesla is discussing the possibility of opening up its Supercharger network to rival automakers. The comments come from Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel.

During the recent Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s 28th Annual Energy Fair in Wisconsin, the Tesla exec was quoted as saying, “For things like Supercharger, we are actively talking to other carmakers and we are trying to figure out a structure to work with them,” Elektrek reports.

It isn’t the first time Tesla has floated the idea of opening up its Supercharger stations. In 2014, CEO Elon Musk said the chargers are “intended to be available to other manufacturers if they’d like to use it.”

Tesla Motors Supercharger network in North America - map as of January 2017

Tesla Motors Supercharger network in North America – map as of January 2017

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Note, Straubel conceded there is the potential for congestion and overcrowding at stations, which is already proving an issue at some locations.

In response, Tesla plans to double the size of its Supercharger network and the new stations will be able to charge dozens of cars at once. If other makes were given the go-ahead to use Supercharger stations, DC fast charging capability may also help keep congestion down.

Tesla has been taking steps to curb overuse itself—the automaker phased out free charging for owners earlier this year. But, Tesla reinstated the perk for existing owners as well as those new owners who purchased a car with a reference. Used Teslas with free charging capability also carry the perk their entire life, meaning it’s transferable from owner-to-owner.

The Supercharger network is one of Tesla’s core competencies. It seems like a backward decision to give up such a competitive advantage, but who knows what kind of deal Tesla could strike.

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