On November 14, Tesla officially unveiled its Model 3 sedan in Europe and began inviting customers on the Old Continent to place their orders for the most affordable vehicle in the company’s lineup of all electric cars. As Elon Musk has noted previously, left-hand-drive versions of the Model 3 are expected to be available in Europe in the first half of 2019 with right-hand-drive versions coming available in the second half of next year.
That’s good news, but what is really exciting for many living there is that those European-spec Model 3s will come equipped with a CCS charging port, giving Model 3 drivers many more opportunities to charge their cars. Tesla Model 3 have noted this after talking to Tesla staff, and Tesla has confirmed more broadly as well.
Tesla currently has 430 Supercharger locations in 23 European countries, but providing access to existing CCS chargers will add 5,500 more charging points for Model 3 drivers to use.
Drew Bennett, head of global charging infrastructure for Tesla, tells Driving Electric in the UK, “As the Model 3 has expanded here in North America, the way we’re seeing people use charging is that the Supercharger network helps them feel comfortable. Just in case, right? They don’t know what they’re worried about, but the fact that there is an always available, fast solution makes them feel a lot better.”
A Better Customer Experience
Even though the company expects most owners to do the majority of charging at home, Tesla recognizes that it can provide better “customer experience, capacity, availability and convenience” by embracing third-party charging networks. That strategy also benefits those who live in apartment buildings, co-ops, and condominiums where access to charging while at home is limited or nonexistent.
“There’s two things I care about a lot when we think about charging,” says Bennett. “One is expanding the network so that people can continue to go everywhere that they want, anywhere they can imagine. That’s a big deal, and it takes an aggressive company to invest in that. The other thing is as we scale to maintain capacity on the network, what you’re going to see is that regional operators will continue putting stations where there are a lot of owners. And from our perspective, there’s no reason that that always has to be a Tesla charging station.”
Tesla quietly joined the CCS coalition in Europe two years ago but this is the first time any benefits of that cooperation have been made public. Bennett says adding CCS compatibility will not slow down expansion of the Supercharger network as the company continues to “push the envelope” of sustainable energy and transportation.
“We’ll accelerate it for sure,” says Bennett. “We’re there to put infrastructure in before our owners need it. It’s absolutely our goal to be leading demand. By no means is giving our customers the chance to more conveniently use other stations diminishing our investment in the network.”
Superchargers With CCS Cables
Tesla has begun adding CCS cables to its Superchargers in Europe in addition to the DC Type 2 connectors that are already standard equipment beginning at Supercharger locations on the busiest routes. Future Superchargers will be fitted with both types of cables. Tesla is expected to begin making CCS adapters available to Model S and Model X owners in the near future so they can use CCS charging equipment as well. The price of the adapters is expected to be around €500.
Note that Tesla already offers CHAdeMO adapters, which is how the Tesla Shuttle Model Sand Tesla Model X in the picture below were able to fast charge at the GreenWay station in the photo. And there are cables for 22 kW charging that are available for the non-superfast CCS charging available at these stations and others.
The question that has not been answered is whether drivers of electric cars that use the CCS standard will be able to use the Supercharger network once the CCS charging cables have been added to all the Tesla charging equipment in Europe.
As Drew Bennett acknowledges, anxiety about being able to charge electric cars when away from home may be irrational but it is real for many drivers — and many would-be EV buyers. One of the best ways to move the EV revolution forward is to promote a convergence in charging technology and standards. People don’t really care what the shape the thing is that plugs into their car to give it more electrons — they just want to know they can go where they want to go and get home without drama. Linking Tesla and CCS is a big step in the right direction.
A Tesla Shuttle using a CHAdeMO fast charger at an Innogy charging station in Germany.