Tesla Supercharger network UK: trial to allow other EVs begins

Published: 20 May 2022

► Non-Teslas to use Superchargers
► Trial comes to some UK locations
► Other brand EV owners will pay more

A trial allowing non-Tesla electric cars to use the firm’s Supercharger network for the first time has come to the UK. Previously, owners of other brands’ EVs were unable to plug in to the Amercian firm’s rapid chargers.

Elon Musk announced the trial in 2021 and it rolled out first in the Netherlands – but from May 2022 Tesla has added Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and the UK.

The company says it is ‘closely monitoring each site for congestion’ having promised Tesla drivers that further stations would only welcome other EVs if there was ‘available capacity.’

How do non-Tesla drivers charge up at a Supercharger?

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, paying around 60p per kilowatt hour at time of writing. This can be ‘lowered with a charging membership’ costing £10.99 a month in the UK, according to the firm. Full details of how to charge are here.

To start with, just 15 Tesla Supercharger stations will open up in Great Britain. That’s a total of 158 Superchargers or around one in four sites, the company says. ‘We will eventually welcome both Tesla and non-Tesla drivers at every Supercharger worldwide,’ Tesla said.

Tesla Supercharger V3 - piling in more than 1000 miles of range per hour!

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 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 3000 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 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.

The first Tesla Supercharger V3 is at the Park Royal service centre

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 secondhand 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.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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