Tesla launched a pilot project in the Netherlands this week in which non-Tesla electric vehicles will be allowed to use its Supercharger network, representing the first time that the automaker is opening up its proprietary charging stations to EVs from other companies.
Tesla’s Supercharger network is often held up as the best possible example of an EV charging network: fast, reliable, and plentiful. But Tesla’s network is also exclusive to Tesla owners, meaning someone driving a Volkswagen or Ford EV wouldn’t be able to use it. But that’s now starting to change.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has, for years, talked about opening up his company’s vast Supercharger network to other electric vehicles. And over this past summer, he started revealing key details about how it would actually work. Now the company is ready to start the process by announcing its first pilot project.
Initially, only 10 Supercharger stations in the Netherlands will be available to non-Tesla EVs. Vehicle owners will need to download the most recent version of Tesla’s smartphone app (version 4.2.3 or higher) in order to access the stations. After downloading the app, customers will be prompted to select “Charge Your Non-Tesla” in order to find the closest participating Supercharger site.
Tesla owners can still use the stations just as normal. “We will be closely monitoring each site for congestion and listening to customers about their experiences,” the company said in a blog post.
The selection of the Netherlands as the pilot project’s starting location isn’t surprising. Tesla CEO Elon Musk previously indicated the experiment would likely start in Europe, where standardized charging cable connectors are mandatory. Other European countries will likely follow before the company opens up its Superchargers in the US. (Tesla has already committed to opening up the network in Norway.)
Tesla uses a proprietary connector in North America, so non-Tesla vehicles here will need an adapter in order to access the company’s Superchargers, of which there are over 6,400 plugs in the US, according to the Department of Energy.
“It’s always been our ambition to open the Supercharger network to Non-Tesla EVs and, by doing so, encourage more drivers to go electric,” the company said. “This move directly supports our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
There’s still a lot of pieces that need to fall into place before Superchargers across the globe become available to non-Tesla owners, especially with regard to how much other automakers are willing to spend on adapters for their customers. But the pilot in the Netherlands is an indication that the ball is finally rolling on a key piece in Musk’s stated plans to spur a revolution in EV adoption.