Tesla Superchargers Cost More For Other EVs, Unless You Buy A Membership

Following months of anticipation, Tesla’s industry-leading Supercharger network opened up to non-Tesla drivers on Thursday, starting with Ford vehicles. Now we’re starting to understand some of the nitty-gritty details of how Supercharging will work for outsiders—including how much it will cost. 

Tesla is charging owners of other EVs roughly 35% more per kilowatt-hour (kWh), according to rates listed on the company’s app. Supercharging rates vary widely by location and time of day (some stations offer lower prices during off-peak hours), so that’s just a ballpark.

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Tesla opens its walled garden

Tesla’s Superchargers are known as the very best around, but they were always exclusively available to Elon Musk’s customers. Through a series of deals with rival automakers, Tesla is offering Supercharging to other EVs. It’s great for EV adoption. 

At some locations, we observed a premium of closer to 37%, while at others it was as low as 23% during off-peak hours. However, Tesla is also offering a $12.99-per-month membership that grants other EV owners the same pricing that Tesla drivers get. That may be worth it, depending on how much one plans to Supercharge. 

Screenshot of Tesla app showing member and non-member charging rates

Tesla’s app shows member and non-member charging rates.

Let’s take a real example. The peak rate at one Supercharger in the Los Angeles area is 61 cents/kWh for non-members, but 45 cents/kWh for members. Using those numbers, it would only take around 81 kWh of charging—roughly 60% of the battery capacity of a Ford F-150 Lightning with the larger battery pack—to recoup the $12.99 fee. That subscription has been available since Tesla opened a limited number of Superchargers up to all EVs last year using so-called Magic Dock adapters.

It makes sense that Tesla is giving preferential treatment to its own customers, who up until now had exclusive access to the vast majority Superchargers; Magic Dock access has so far been very limited. Many Tesla owners bought their cars specifically because of the charging network, which is regarded as superior to rivals like Electrify America and EVgo both in terms of convenience and number of stations. 

Over the last year, practically the entire auto industry announced plans to switch over to Tesla’s charging port design, now known as the North American Charging Standard, or NACS. Historically, only Teslas had the NACS port, with Superchargers offering a plug to match. That plug was incompatible with other cars, as was Tesla’s charging system on the back end. 

Now that’s changing. Legacy automakers and EV startups alike have said they’ll incorporate the NACS port into their future vehicles. They’ve also struck deals with Tesla to offer their customers access to around 15,000 Supercharger plugs of the 27,000 or so that Tesla operates in North America.

It’s a big win for EV adoption. Car buyers consistently cite charging anxiety as one of the biggest reasons they’re hesitant to ditch gasoline. 

Vehicles with the old style of port (the Combined Charging Standard, or CSS) will need to use an adapter. Ford opened orders for its adapter on Thursday as Tesla switched on Supercharger access for its cars. So far, the adapter seems to be working swimmingly, according to tests by our very own Tom Moloughney

California startup Rivian may be next up, saying on Thursday that its vehicles will gain Supercharger access in March, with adapter shipments to follow. General Motors, Volvo and Polestar (Volvo’s EV offshoot brand) should gain Supercharger support this spring, according to Tesla.  

Contact the author: tim.levin@insideevs.com