The Tesla Supercharger network is the fastest way to charge up an EV.
However, while we reckon it's A-OK to use a Tesla destination charger (if you have the right adaptor), you're - currently - unable to use a Tesla Supercharger unless you own a piece of Elon's IP and machinery.
So, who can use Tesla Superchargers?
Short answer; only owners of a Tesla S, X or 3 can use the Tesla Supercharger network in Australia and New Zealand.
This is because Tesla’s supercharging network uses a unique plug design that does not allow for cross-compatibility between the Tesla chargers and other BEVs or PHEVs. Basically, it's modelled on the common Type 2 plug, but with an additional notch that makes it bespoke.
Why do Tesla use a different plug for Supercharging?
To be honest, it's not 100% clear whether Tesla want to mark it's territory with a different plug OR whether they've been leading the way on EV tech for so long that their plug became standard...before a standard was established amongst all EV manufacturers.
Either way, other EV makers are now upgrading their charging tech in an attempt to keep pace with Elon and his team, with the Type 2 and CSS 2 plugs becoming prevalent. We suspect, along with many EV commentators, that the 'big players' in the auto world didn't really rate Tesla's chances of still being in business by the time a plug standard was decided.
How many Superchargers are there in Australia?
According to the Tesla Australia website, there are around 30 in operation, with another 9 coming online soon.
The Supercharger network is concentrated along Australia's east coast, as far north as the Sunshine Coast and south down to the Great Ocean Road. Nothing in Tassie just yet, and only one current and one coming in Perth (where there is actually an active EV community who have formed the Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia).
How many in New Zealand?
Seven up and running and five coming soon...which is awesome for a nation so enthusiastic about EV uptake and with such amazing roads to travel (and fantastic hills to use the regen brakes on!).
Will Tesla Superchargers be compatible with other EVs in future?
Tesla - and Elon Musk - have always stated they want to make EVs accessible for everyone. So, eventually this will mean ALL the EV manufacturers agree on some charging standards and solutions.
Actually, this is already starting to happen with the Model 3s released in Europe which have a CCS 2 plug; this means they're compatible with all Type 2 and Combo 2 charging stations. Some Tesla Superchargers are also upgrading to CCS 2 plugs and, if Telsa decides to open up the Supercharger network worldwide, this would help in unifying charging options for DC fast charging.
How much does Tesla Supercharging cost?
Tesla owners used to be able to access a lifetime of free charging. However, this incentive ended on 1 February 2019, with Elon Musk stating in a tweet that lifetime free recharge was 'adding too much cost to the cars, especially Model 3'.
Tesla now offers 1000 free miles of supercharging if you buy a new Model S, Model X, or Model 3; with a referral.
Apart from that, the price to supercharge a Tesla costs about $0.42 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in Australia and New Zealand, with the total price of full charge dependant on the kWh maximum of the specific model of Tesla.
What if I have a non-Tesla electric vehicle?
Never fear, you still have fast-charging options!
The most common plugs are the Type 1/ J1772, the previously mentioned Type 2 and the CHAdeMO plug.
Sure, all these plugs are different, which, again, is largely due to EV manufacturers being unable to find common ground on the issue. Which can make life a little difficult for EV drivers...unless you have the right adaptors.
Hopefully, moving forward, a single design will be decided on. But, realistically, as with Apple and Samsung, we're always going to see some charging differences.
To find your nearest CHAdeMO fast-charging point, we recommend you use the PlugShare app.
Oh, and a little fun fact...from the CHAdeMO Association website; did you know that CHAdeMO is an abbreviation of “CHArge de MOve,” equivalent to 'charge for moving' and is a pun for 'O cha demo ikaga desuka' in Japanese, meaning 'Let’s have a cup of tea while charging'?
Until the price of a Tesla comes down into family-budget-friendly territory, the EV itself - and the Supercharger network - is out of most people's reach.
Hopefully, the information in this post has helped you understand a bit more about Tesla Superchargers, but if it's just confused you more, feel free to get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply pickup the phone and dial 1300 70 11 99.