In the North America Tesla cars use a proprietary charging cord, therefore to fast charge a Tesla car in North America requires using the proprietary charging cord. This morning friends in a local Electric Auto Association chapter (GGEVA) noticed that an eVgo charging station in San Francisco had support for Tesla cars. What could this be that eVgo can handle fast charging a Tesla car without it being labeled Supercharger? Did eVgo work out how to implement Supercharger support on a non-Tesla fast charging station?
It’s possible that since Tesla supports Combo Charging System in other regions (in at least Europe, Australia, and New Zealand) that ABB (the provider of charging stations to eVgo) has worked out how to implement CCS for delivery through the proprietary plug shape Tesla uses. For example Tesla cars in Europe are known to support nearly 200 kiloWatt charging rates on bog-standard CCS stations. With the ability to charge at up to 190 kW, an EV owner in Norway managed a 1000 km trip in 10 hours using bog-standard CCS stations.
To do this in the USA, ABB would have to do the following:
- Implement the Supercharger plug on their own – 3rd parties like Quick Charge Power has done so, surely ABB can do so
- Develop communication protocols sufficient that a Model S/X/3 can interact with an ABB fast charging station through that charging plug
- This would probably require cooperation from Tesla
Before someone jumps on me – Yes, Tesla has offered to the car makers that their cars can be made to interoperate with Supercharger stations. I was on the conference call where Elon Musk made that announcement, and somewhere on LongTailPipe is my write-up of that announcement. I do not see the incentive for the automakers to give Tesla that kind of marketing win.
Instead I would rather see Tesla start a path towards support of the standards-based fast charging systems. Tesla is doing this in Europe/etc by adopting the IEC Type 2 CCS plug. Why not do so in North America?
Turns out that, instead, eVgo simply mounted a Tesla-Chademo adapter on a regular eVgo/ABB charging station. So much for hoping …
The first thing to do is to visit the eVgo website and see what’s up. Of interest is the section for finding charging stations.
Hurm, that’s interesting, a filter selection talking about Tesla. That’s new.
If you’ve used a feature like this, you know that a charging network (like eVgo) has an online map with which to find charging stations. A common feature of such a map is to “filter” for charging stations by their characteristics. So if my car had a Combo Charging System charging port, I’d want to find stations that support CCS fast charging.
In this case we’re pretending to have a Tesla and are looking for charging stations that support Tesla fast charging.
Clicking the selection filter, then zooming the map out, there are a few nearby charging stations with “Tesla Adapter” support. Then traveling to the nearest location (ABB’s headquarters in Silicon Valley) I find this:
Here’s what eVgo is doing. This is a fairly normal eVgo installation with two charging stations, one of which has this “TESLA DRIVERS” banner. The sharp eyed will see a Tesla-CHAdeMO adapter.
Here’s the instructions which is
- Attach the adapter to the CHAdeMO charging cord
- Plug it into the charging port on the car
- Start a CHAdeMO charging session on the charging station
In case it’s not clear by now, what eVgo did is an expensive accommodation of Tesla owners, rather than what I expressed hope for above. eVgo did not implement something allowing direct charging via the proprietary Supercharger plug, but they added an off-the-shelf adapter (which costs $500 or so).
This is what the charging station looks like from the front. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a normal everyday eVgo charging station.
And of course if you leave the Tesla adapter off, it works as a normal everyday CHAdeMO charging station.
Having reached the bottom of this post – what should one think about this situation?
On my way to this charging station I was pondering whether the demand for CHAdeMO is falling off. The primary driver for CHAdeMO demand was not the Kia Soul EV you see here, but instead the Nissan Leaf. But in the USA (and probably elsewhere), Nissan Leaf sales have dropped off. Maybe the charging networks have seen this, and maybe they’re wondering how to make use of the CHAdeMO assets they’ve installed?
My opinion is that Tesla should do something to better accommodate the non-Tesla fast charging systems. In Europe and elsewhere Tesla adopted the Type 2 CCS fast charging plug on the Tesla Model 3, for example. Because of that Tesla cars can now directly use any CCS fast charging station with zero need for any adapter. Therefore, why doesn’t Tesla do the same in the USA? Why should the charging networks have to spend $$$’s like eVgo has done to install an adapter?
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