By Evan Williams

Tesla is looking at sharing its Supercharger network with other automakers. The news comes directly from its CTO, JB Straubel.

It's not the first time that sharing the Supercharger network has been floated. CEO Elon Musk mentioned previous discussions back in 2015. But nothing ever came of it. At the time, there were only a few hundred Superchargers operating, so it made little sense.

Now Tesla has more than 5,000 of the quick-charge stations at over 800 sites and has said that it expects to have more than 10,000 globally by the end of this year. That's a very serious network, one that would make any automaker take notice.

"For things like Supercharger, we are actively talking to other carmakers and we are trying to figure out a structure to work with them," Straubel said to Electrek.

There are some hurdles to allowing other brands to use the Supercharger stations. The first is congestion. Straubel acknowledged that in some areas network congestion could be an issue. Doubling the number of charging stations this year would help alleviate that, but the rollout of Model 3 will likely further increase demand.

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The next issue is the chargers themselves. Most other EVs are designed for less than half of Tesla's fast charging rate in kilowatts. That can be taken into account and adjusted for by the charging system, but it means that they will still charge more slowly than a Tesla could.

There is also the issue of the plug. Tesla has its own charging standard, but there is also CHAdeMO used by some Asian manufacturers, and the CCS standard used by North American and European automakers. A Tesla can be connected to CHAdeMO chargers using an adapter, but not to CCS. And cars using the other two charging systems can't connect to Tesla's Superchargers. But Tesla has recently joined CharIN, an industry group working to promote the CCS charging standard. That could lead to improved compatibility between Superchargers and CCS system cars.


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