Tesla Says Non-Tesla Cars Can Use Extra Space at Charging Stations

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Tesla Says Non-Tesla Cars Can Use Extra Space at Charging Stations

Ford EV owners recently woke up to a game-changing update: access to Tesla’s extensive Supercharging network, adding 15,000 DC Fast Chargers to their options overnight. This massive expansion is a testament to the pre-existing infrastructure established by Tesla for its own clientele, marking a significant leap forward in EV charging accessibility.

However, a notable hiccup accompanies this progress. Tesla’s Superchargers, known for their short cable length due to the Magic Dock connectors, are causing a bit of a logistical issue. This design quirk means that drivers of non-Tesla vehicles might find themselves needing to occupy two charging spots to connect, and surprisingly, Tesla’s app doesn’t seem to discourage this practice.

Taking a step back, Tesla’s Superchargers have long set the standard in the EV charging realm. Initially, the Tesla plug, now transitioning to the North American Charging Standard (NACS), was exclusive to Tesla vehicles, facilitating both home and rapid charging. Meanwhile, other manufacturers leaned on different standards like the Combined Charging System (CCS) or the older CHAdeMO. Tesla’s recent move to open up and standardize NACS has quickly led to its broad acceptance across the industry, marking a pivotal moment in the evolution of EV charging.

The swift adoption of a new EV charging standard across the industry, led by Ford, is remarkable, especially since such changes typically unfold over years. Originally, Tesla’s Supercharger network was optimized for its own vehicles to save costs, including the decision to use short cables that match the location of Tesla’s charging ports on the rear driver’s side.

This design has become an issue for non-Tesla electric vehicles, such as Ford’s F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E, which have their charging ports near the front wheel on the driver’s side. Due to the short length of Tesla’s Supercharger cables, these vehicles face challenges connecting when parked normally, leading to the necessity of double-parking to access charging, thus blocking additional charging stalls.

Tesla’s website reads:

[I]n some cases you might have to park over the line in order to charge comfortably. Avoid parking diagonally to reach the cable and try to obstruct as few charge posts as possible. Charge port locations vary by EV model, which requires cable sharing between adjacent stalls at many sites.

Tesla is addressing the cable length issue with its upcoming “v4” Superchargers, which feature longer cables placed on the charging unit’s exterior, allowing the charger to reach both sides of the stall. This design aims to facilitate easier access for non-Tesla electric vehicles. However, Tesla continues to roll out new Supercharging sites equipped with the “v3” model in the U.S., while some new sites in Europe are starting to see the introduction of the “v4” Superchargers as of February.

Furthermore, Tesla is advocating for a standardized location for charging ports across all manufacturers, which could help reduce both costs and the clutter of cords at charging stations.

For non-Tesla vehicle owners, the situation may not always require taking up two charging stalls. At certain Supercharger sites, selecting an end stall or using one of Tesla’s “pull-through” chargers might be a solution, although this workaround is not universally applicable due to varying station designs.

Since Ford introduced the Magic Dock, there have been noticeable complications at Supercharger stations, especially highlighted by Ford F-150 Lightning owners sharing photos of their vehicles charging. These images illustrate the potential issue of reduced vehicle capacity at busy Superchargers, where the need for non-Tesla vehicles to double-park could significantly lower the number of cars able to charge at once, potentially leading to queues.

An F-150 Lightning owner shared insights on charging etiquette in a Facebook post, stating:

If we can’t get to an end stall or don’t have a pull through option, then we have to park in the “wrong” spot on the other side of a charger to get the cable to reach. Again, this is where we, as owners and out-worlders, need to exercise patience and courtesy, especially if stations are full and people are waiting to charge. Do your best to not inconvenience other drivers while still getting a charge. Wait for an end spot, look for a pull through or just communicate well with Tesla owners around you. The last thing we want is some viral video that includes a charging etiquette argument with Tesla owners.

Tesla’s system for detecting available Supercharging stalls, which relies on whether a charger is currently in use, struggles to identify spots occupied by double-parked vehicles. As a result, a Supercharger station with 6 Tesla cars and 3 non-Tesla vehicles charging could inaccurately display 3 open stalls, despite them being taken by the double-parked cars.

This issue is expected to persist and potentially worsen. Rivian and General Motors are set to join the Supercharging network soon, and as more automakers adopt the NACS, the situation could further complicate. Consequently, Tesla owners may face more challenges at increasingly busy Supercharger stations.

The Supercharger network, once a significant advantage for Tesla, aiding in its rise above competitors with its extensive and dependable infrastructure, now faces a new dilemma. Opening up its network to other brands might dilute this edge, leading Tesla owners to reconsider their brand loyalty since Tesla’s key selling point becomes available to a broader range of electric vehicles.

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