Parts of Tesla’s Supercharger network are open to any car — but short charging cables are causing chaos
- Tesla began to open some of its exclusive Supercharging stations to other electric vehicles earlier this year.
- But the cords are designed for Teslas, meaning that owners of some other cars need to use two spaces to plug in.
- Tesla plans to grant other EV owners access to at least 3,500 of its chargers by the end of 2024.
After years of teasers, Tesla began opening up its vast, exclusive network of Superchargers to drivers of other electric vehicles in the US earlier this year.
There’s just one kink that Elon Musk hasn’t ironed out: The charging cables, which were designed for Teslas, aren’t long enough to comfortably accommodate some other cars. It means non-Teslas have had to park awkwardly to plug in. Or worse yet, park in the wrong spot, blocking off two charging stalls instead of one.
In March, Tesla opened a handful of its roughly 1,700 US charging stations to non-Tesla vehicles. It accomplished this rather elegantly, by retrofitting what it calls a “Magic Dock,” an adapter that automatically attaches to let Chevrolets, Porsches, BMWs top up. (Tesla designed its own charging connector, while the rest of the industry uses a different standard.)
EV owners flocked to the stations to test them out, with many marveling online at the seamless process. But they also noticed a glaring flaw in the plan. All Teslas have their charging in the same spot on the back-left corner of the car. Superchargers themselves — and the surrounding parking spots — are designed to accommodate Teslas only.
That poses a problem when other electric cars, which may have their charging ports elsewhere, try to charge up.
For example, when tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee took his Rivian truck to a Tesla station in New York, he had to park in the wrong spot — effectively blocking another charging stall — in order to plug in. The same happened when Electrek, an electric-car blog, brought a Chevrolet Bolt to a Supercharger.
In a recent YouTube video, Dave Conner, of the automotive channel Out of Spec Reviews, charged a Genesis GV60 electric SUV at a Tesla station while taking up two spots. He noted that the situation could pose problems, particularly during times when chargers are in high demand.
“People are going to start to get upset here with the fact that Tesla has delivered this Magic Dock station capability, but they haven’t thought through the logistics as far as how people are going to charge,” Conner said.
In a video on his State of Charge YouTube channel, Tom Moloughney could barely get Tesla’s cable to reach the charging port of his Ford F-150 Lightning, but succeeded (while blocking an extra space) after repositioning his vehicle extremely close to a bollard in front of the parking space. He spoke with a Lucid Air owner at the same location who said he would have had to “crash my bumper into the charging station” to top up at one of the standard stalls, so he chose the lone Supercharger off to the side that was positioned differently.
Tesla owners sometimes experience long lines at charging stations, particularly during popular travel times. Ford, Chevy, and Hyundai owners clogging up Superchargers could frustrate Tesla owners further if the company fails to roll out a fix before deploying Magic Docks to more locations. The simplest solution, it seems, would be to add longer cables that can reach the charging ports on more vehicles.
Tesla’s chargers being open to anyone is set to be a boon for EV owners who currently rely on an inconsistent patchwork of charging providers. The move allows Tesla to access some of the $7.5 billion in federal funding set aside for improving charging infrastructure.
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