► Trial for non-Tesla cars starts in Netherlands
► More than 600 Superchargers
► V3 versions deliver up to 250kW
A trial allowing non-Tesla electric cars to use the American firm's Supercharger network for the first time has started in the Netherlands, following an announcement made by CEO Elon Musk midway through 2021.
The pilot scheme is taking place across 10 locations in the Netherlands, with the company "closely monitoring each site for congestion" having promised Tesla drivers that further stations would only welcome other EVs if there was "available capacity".
Non-Tesla owners can use the selected Superchargers by downloading the Tesla app, but will be charged more than the standard rate enjoyed by Tesla drivers. This can be "lowered with a charging membership" according to the firm.
No timescale has been given for the expansion of the trial, so it's not clear when (or indeed if) we'll see a similar development in the UK. However, Tesla has laid out its intention to "aggressively expand the network", and says that having more customers will speed up that process.
Tesla installed its 500th UK Supercharger on the A12 outside Colchester in June 2020, with the total number swelling to 624 chargers across 73 locations by March 2021. The first Tesla charging point was installed in London's Royal Victoria Docks in 2014
Tesla Superchargers are slowly becoming a common sight in service stations and car parks across the UK, and the company says there are now more than 30,000 charging points and in excess of 3,000 stations worldwide.
The Supercharger network is one of the main reasons that Tesla electric car ownership has been so viable, even for early adopters: it works seamlessly and hasn't suffered from the reliability issues that some other networks are notorious for.
You'll probably have seen the banks of futuristic-looking, white Tesla Superchargers at motorway service stations dotted around the UK's main trunk road network. Owners can see where the stations are on their sat-nav, which even indicates which chargers are in use and which are free.
Further electric car charging reading
What is the latest Tesla V3 Supercharging?
V3 Supercharging uses the same principle as Tesla’s current Superchargers, but adds a 1MW power cabinet to the equation. That means 250kW peak charging rates per car, with Tesla saying a Long Range Model 3 can theoretically top up 75 miles of range in just five minutes.
What’s more, V3 charging also means no shared power – so charging speed won’t be hindered when two Teslas charge up together. Handy for those peak busy hours.
The UK's first V3 Superchargers were installed at Park Royal in London in 2019, using CCS cables that have become the norm on other high-speed charging networks. These can plug into the Model 3 directly, while the Model S and Model X are supplied with adaptors. As a result the latter pair will only enjoy maximum charging rates of around 145kW.
What else is new?
Alongside the infrastructure upgrades with V3, Tesla has also rolled out an over-the-air update called On-Route Battery Warm-up. Batteries are essentially portable chemical reactions, and their efficiency is sensitive to heat.
Tesla's new warm-up feature gets the cells at the ideal temperature for charging on the way to the charger, and that means when the car is connected to the Supercharger, power transfer is as efficient as possible – right from the start. The result? More miles for your time stationary.
In 2019, Tesla announced that its V2 Superchargers would be upgraded to unlock charging speeds of up to 145kW.
How much does Supercharging cost?
This has become a bit of a minefield over the years. All Tesla EVs used to come with free Supercharging, but lately the company has been phasing that offer out... before reintroducing it for certain periods to entice new customers. Our advice is to check before you buy, especially if you're looking at second-hand models.
Charging costs can vary, but currently Tesla's website suggests a guide price of £0.28 per kilowatt-hour; about twice what you'd pay to plug in at home. This is still considerably cheaper than using petrol, however: when running a Tesla Model S long-termer in 2018, CAR consumed £294 of power over 5600 miles, the equivalent of just 5p a mile. That's cracking value and the (since discontinued) 85D's 200-mile usable range meant we could easily take it on long trips to the other end of the country – so long as we factored in detour time for finding working charging points on our way.
With every new Supercharger station that comes online that task gets easier and easier, and the Model S's 405-mile range has massively reduced the need to stop en route. But be warned: there are still large swathes of rural Britain where charging up is not as easy as it should be.
How to plan a trip with Tesla Superchargers
Tesla has launched a journey planner which helps you map out any route with your EV. And because the tool is specific to Tesla, it’s able to carefully calculate your route based on the range of your car. It’ll also favour Tesla’s own speedier Supercharger network, too. You can try the tool out here.