Technical Glitch Enables Free EV Charging in Europe

Aside from being the most famous electric vehicle (“EV”) maker, Tesla is the only electric vehicle maker that has invested in a widespread charging network for its drivers. The company’s network of destination chargers and Superchargers are arguably more reliable than the charging networks drivers of other EV vehicles have to use. However, a technical glitch seems to be allowing EV drivers who don’t drive a Tesla to use some European Tesla Superchargers.

A couple of days ago, non-Tesla electric car owners were surprised to find that they could charge their vehicles for free at the new V3 Superchargers in Europe which use the common CCS standard. Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) switched its main charging standard to CCS when it launched Model 3 and its Supercharger V3 in Europe. Although most other electric cars already use the same standard and connector, they technically shouldn’t be able to use Tesla’s Supercharger network.

This is because Tesla vehicles have to do a digital “handshake” with the Supercharger before it can start charging. On top of ascertaining that the vehicle in question is a Tesla, the digital handshake handles the cost of charging, linking it to the driver’s Tesla account. Instead of limiting the charging network to only Tesla vehicles, the software is letting virtually any electric vehicle with CCS to charge at the new V3 Superchargers in Europe.

Nextmove, an electric vehicle rental company managed to charge the following EVs on Tesla’s SUpercharger: VW e-Golf, VW ID.3, BMW i3, Opel Ampera-e (Chevy Bolt EV), Hyundai Kona Electric, Hyundai IONIQ Electric, Renault Zoe, and the Porsche Taycan. The theory is that there is a bug in Tesla’s V3 handshake that releases the charge even if it doesn’t detect the vehicle as a Tesla car. Since the non-Tesla vehicles are not linked to a Tesla account, they are receiving charge for free.

According to @TeslaStars on Twitter, “this is due to a EU law that requires new charging stations to have at least 1 or 2 stalls compatible with any EV. The order now obliges @Tesla when they open a new station to have one or two charging stalls open to the public.” Additionally, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has in the past stated his willingness to open the company’s network of Superchargers to other automakers. TeslaStar presumes that Tesla launched this “free for anyone” approach only as an interim measure. If it tweaks its app to allow non-Tesla owners to have an account, then it could start charging them through the app.

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