Owners Tips

What Non-Tesla EV Owners Need to Know About Using Tesla Superchargers

Owners of electric vehicles (EVs) made by Ford learned on Feb. 29, 2024, that they will soon be able to charge their vehicles at Tesla Supercharger locations. Tesla pioneered the North American Charging Standard (NACS), and before this, its expansive Supercharging network was exclusive to Tesla drivers. Nearly all EVs and charging stations currently use the Combined Charging System (CCS). Tesla drivers can access non-Tesla chargers using an adapter, and soon, non-Tesla EVs will be able to use Tesla’s network.

The benefits of Tesla’s charging network are its sheer size, quick charging speeds, and ease of payment – each Tesla is connected to an account and a payment method, so there’s no need to swipe a credit card or load funds onto an app. Drivers simply plug their car in and see the charges on their account once the charging session is complete. It’s a seamless and convenient experience that has been unmatched in the EV industry, and opening access addresses a few pain points associated with the EV charging experience.

“We are extremely excited to be the first automaker to provide access to our customers to charge on the Tesla Supercharger network across the U.S. and Canada,” said Ken Williams, Director of Charging & Energy Services for Ford Motor Company.

While Ford can claim bragging rights as the first automaker to provide customers access to Tesla’s network, it is not the only automaker working on a deal with Tesla. Other EV manufacturers are rolling out access, either this year or next, and nearly every major automaker has announced they will adopt the new standard.

Accessing Tesla’s network is not a simple plug-and-play procedure for automakers. For example, although the agreement between Tesla and Ford came into effect on Feb. 29, Ford customers won’t be able to take advantage of Tesla’s Superchargers until software updates are made to their vehicles and to Tesla’s chargers. Ford EV owners will also have to wait until Ford ships out the necessary fast charging adapters, which will allow Ford vehicles to plug into Tesla chargers.

North American Charging Standard

Like Ford, other EV brands will have to adapt their EVs to charge using NACS. This means that the charging ports on non-Tesla EVs will have to conform to NACS specs – either by design or with the help of a fast charging adapter.

Mazda recently announced that it has reached an agreement with Tesla to adopt NACS for charging ports on its North American EVs starting in 2025. All Mazda EVs launched in 2025 and beyond will come with a NACS-compatible charging port.

Mercedes-Benz has announced that drivers will be able to use Tesla Superchargers in North America starting sometime in 2024 via an adapter and that the company will implement NACS ports into its new EVs starting in 2025.

Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche announced plans to implement NACS into North American vehicles in 2025. The brands are also looking at adapter solutions that will allow their existing vehicles to access the Tesla Supercharger network.

Honda has announced that it will adopt NACS for its North American EV models starting in 2025. The 2024 Honda Prologue and Acura ZDX, on the other hand, will be compatible with NACS via charging adapters.

The Tesla Supercharger network will be accessible to all Nissan vehicles through a NACS adapter, which will be available later this year. Starting in 2025, Nissan will begin offering EVs for the Canadian markets with a NACS port.

Hyundai Motor North America announced that it is adopting NACS ports for its EVs in the United States and Canada. In the United States, all-new or refreshed Hyundai EVs will come exclusively with a NACS port, beginning in Q4 2024. Canada will follow soon thereafter in the first half of 2025. Owners of existing Hyundai EVs will have access to the Tesla Supercharging Network starting in Q1 2025 with the help of an adapter.

Toyota will incorporate NACS ports into certain Toyota and Lexus EVs starting in 2025. Customers who own Toyota or Lexus vehicles without a NACS port will be offered an adapter to enable NACS charging starting in 2025. General Motors, Subaru, Rivian, Volvo, and Polestar will also be using the new standard in their future EVs.

Fast Charging Adapters

While automakers are planning to use fast charging adapters that will allow older EVs (those without NACS ports built in) to plug into Tesla Superchargers, they’re not saying how much those adapter will costs to purchase.

Ford announced that its customers can order a fast charging adapter from Ford and that the adapter is currently available at no cost, but only for a limited time. Until the end of June, new and existing Ford customers enrolled in the brand’s BlueOval Charge Network can order a free adapter (one adapter per vehicle VIN). However, any Ford customer who does not order their complimentary adapter during this period will have to pay USD $230 to purchase one if they do so after July 1, 2024. Future Ford EV customers will also have to purchase an adapter from Ford.

Will other automakers follow this same pattern? We simply don’t know yet because they haven’t announced details.

Waiting Period

Another key question is: How long will EV owners have to wait for their adapters? Ford started taking orders for adapters on Feb. 29, but the company doesn’t expect to start shipping them until the end of March. Ford’s retail customers can order theirs at ford.com/FastChargingAdapters, while Ford Pro commercial customers will be contacted this spring by mail or by their Ford Pro account manager to order theirs.

Limited Access

Ford announced that its customers will have access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers throughout the U.S. and Canada. However, not all Tesla Supercharger locations will be available to Ford customers. Older V2 (version two) Superchargers are incompatible with Ford vehicles and will not be accessible.

While the newer V3 (version three) Superchargers are compatible with Ford vehicles, Tesla has decided that certain V3 supercharges will remain exclusive to Tesla vehicles and will not be available to Ford owners.

As other EV manufacturers gain access to Tesla’s network, they will likely have to deal with the same restrictions. Some Supercharger locations will be available to them and compatible with their vehicles, while others may be exclusive to Tesla drivers.

Since not all Tesla Supercharger locations will be open to Ford vehicles, Ford is advising its customers to use the FordPass app or the Public Charging app on their in-vehicle SYNC touchscreens to find the closest compatible Tesla charging locations.

To make charging stations even easier to find in the future, Ford is currently working on adding easy-routing features to Apple Maps for Apple CarPlay users and Google Maps for Android Auto users.

Other EV manufacturers are likely to offer the same kind of navigation assistance when they gain access to Tesla’s network to ensure their EV customers don’t end up at a Tesla Supercharger they can’t use.

Tesla offers its own app, which allows EV owners to look for charging stations in their area and see how many charging stalls are currently available.

Cost to Charge

Owners of non-Tesla EVs are likely to pay a premium to charge at a Tesla Supercharger. Ford explained that charging costs are set by Tesla and that Ford customers might have to pay a premium to use the network. However, Ford drivers will be able to view pricing before they plug in and pay, allowing them to opt out if they don’t agree with the pricing.

As other EV brands gain access to Tesla’s network, they’ll likely have to pay a premium as well. However, using the Tesla app, EV owners can purchase what Tesla calls a Supercharging Membership, which allows all EV owners to Supercharge at the same price (per kWh) as Tesla vehicle owners. Currently, Tesla is charging $16.99/month for a Supercharging Membership. This article gives some more insight into what Tesla owners pay.

OTA Updates

Before Ford owners can take advantage of Tesla’s Supercharger network, they’ll need to update the software in their vehicles. Ford F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E customers will receive an over-the-air (OTA) software update allowing them to use the Supercharging network. On the other hand, E-Transit owners will need to visit a Ford dealership to update their complimentary software.

Although the new software was available as of Feb. 29, 2024, it will have a staggered rollout, which means that some Ford customers will get their update sooner while others will have to wait.

The need for software updates is likely to be the norm as other EV brands gain access to Tesla’s Supercharger network. While some vehicles will likely get OTA software updates, other EVs might have to visit a dealership for an update.

In addition, Tesla will update its network to make its Superchargers compatible with Ford vehicles.

While we don’t have all the answers yet, the fact that Tesla is opening up its Supercharger network to other manufacturers is a step in the right direction. With the ability to use Tesla’s network in Canada and the U.S., as well as pay for those charges with a convenient app (either with the Tesla app or onboard apps in each vehicle), EV owners will soon have more charging options and more freedom from range anxiety, no matter where they’re travels may take them.