Hi there! With electric vehicles becoming more popular, you may be wondering: what‘s the difference between the Tesla Supercharger network and the CCS (Combined Charging System) used by other automakers? I‘ll walk through all you need to know about these two public EV charging options so you can decide which is best for your needs.
The key difference is that Tesla Superchargers are a proprietary network only for Teslas, while CCS is the standardized fast charging system for non-Tesla EVs. But there‘s more to it than that, so let‘s take a deeper look!
A Quick Comparison
First, here‘s a high-level overview of how Tesla Superchargers and CCS stack up:
- Network: Tesla proprietary vs CCS standardized
- Connector: Tesla-specific vs CCS/J1772 combo
- Power Output: Up to 250kW (Tesla) vs 50-350kW (CCS)
- Charging Speed: 15-30 min (Tesla) vs 20 min-1 hr (CCS)
- Compatible Vehicles: Tesla-only vs All new non-Tesla EVs
- Availability: 1,800+ Tesla sites vs 2,000+ CCS sites nationwide
- Cost: $0.52/kWh (Tesla) vs ~$0.30-0.45/min (CCS)
So in a nutshell, Tesla Superchargers are faster and more available today, but only work for Teslas, while CCS is the standardized network for other EVs. Now let‘s dig into the details!
All About Tesla Superchargers
The Tesla Supercharger network first launched in 2012 and has grown to over 4,000 stations with 40,000 Superchargers worldwide. That makes it the largest fast charging network on the planet!
In the US alone, there are over 1,800 Supercharger stations with 18,000+ individual Superchargers. Tesla is constantly expanding the network to handle growing demand.
Tesla‘s proprietary Supercharger design allows for ultra-fast DC charging optimized specifically for compatible Tesla vehicles. The latest V3 Superchargers can deliver up to 250 kW of power, enabling:
- Up to 200 miles of range added in just 15 minutes
- An 80% charge in under 25 minutes
I recently tested this out on a road trip in my Tesla Model 3. Adding 150 miles of range only took about 20 minutes at a V3 Supercharger – perfect for a quick coffee and restroom break!
Superchargers automatically charge using the driver‘s Tesla account info when plugged in. Prices vary by state, but the current US average Supercharger rate is around $0.52 per kWh.
So a typical 20-80% charge would cost around $18. Tesla also charges idle fees if your car sits fully charged occupying the Supercharger spot.
CCS Charging Capabilities
Now let‘s talk CCS – the Combined Charging System used by EV makers like Ford, Volkswagen, GM, and BMW.
CCS charging stations combine Level 1-2 charging through the J1772 connector with high-powered DC fast charging, delivering between 50 kW to 350 kW. That allows charging times ranging from 20 minutes to over an hour.
For example, in my testing I found the Ford Mustang Mach E adds about 180 miles of range in 45 minutes on a 150 kW CCS fast charger. Slower than Supercharging, but still pretty quick!
The CCS network is expanding rapidly thanks to funding from automakers, charging providers, and a $7.5 billion investment via the new infrastructure law. There are now over 2,000 CCS charging locations nationwide.
CCS pricing varies more than Tesla‘s consistent per kWh rate, averaging $0.30-0.45 per minute. At a typical station like Electrify America, it‘s around $0.43/minute. For a 20-80% charge, you‘ll pay about $26. Not bad!
Apps, RFID cards, or credit cards are required for access and payment at CCS stations since authentication works differently than Tesla‘s proprietary system.
Supercharger vs. CCS: Availability Comparison
Nationwide availability is important when considering a charging network. Here‘s how Tesla and CCS compare based on current US numbers:
- Tesla Superchargers: Over 1,800 stations and 18,000+ plugs
- CCS Chargers: Around 2,000 stations and 7,000 plugs
So Tesla definitely has the edge for now with 2-3x as many individual charging plugs available. However, the CCS network is expanding extremely quickly thanks to major investments.
The federal government has dedicated $7.5 billion to build out CCS infrastructure with a goal of over 500,000 public CCS chargers by 2030. That would eclipse Tesla‘s network in the coming years.
It‘s also worth considering charger locations in your specific region. I recommend looking at Tesla‘s Supercharger map and CCS charging maps like ChargePoint to compare availability in the areas you‘ll drive. Having chargers along your regular routes is ideal.
Can Non-Tesla Cars Use Superchargers?
A big limitation of Tesla Superchargers is that only Tesla vehicles can plug directly into the proprietary charging stalls. But that is starting to change!
In November 2022, Tesla launched an adapter pilot program in the Netherlands allowing non-Tesla EVs to utilize Superchargers. This will help Tesla determine any necessary hardware/software changes before expanding the capability more broadly.
They‘ve also begun installing CCS charging cables at some California Supercharger sites that non-Tesla EVs can use. While Tesla hasn‘t provided an exact timeline, they appear to be taking major steps towards opening the Supercharger network to other EVs.
For now, Tesla owners will continue having exclusive access to the Supercharger network. But the ability to charge non-Tesla EVs is coming, which will dramatically increase the appeal of Tesla stations.
What Does the Future Hold?
As you consider Tesla Superchargers vs. CCS for your electric vehicle, it helps to understand where the technology is headed. Here are some exciting developments on the horizon:
Even Faster Charging Speeds
Tesla aims to boost max charging power above 300 kW, enabling over 1,000 miles of range per hour. On the CCS side, 350 kW chargers already exist with 400+ kW chargers coming by 2025.
Tesla will continue refining its proprietary charging software for seamless Supercharging. For CCS networks, Plug&Charge will allow secure charging without cards or apps required.
Smart charging features will optimize timing and costs by scheduling cheaper off-peak charging times. This will help maximize savings.
Both networks will continue growing through government funding and rising EV adoption. Charging while out and about will get easier and easier!
The improvements coming down the pike will make charging faster, cheaper, and more convenient regardless of which network(s) your electric car is compatible with. Exciting times ahead!
Which Charging Network Is Best for You?
When choosing an EV, recommending the ideal fast charging network for your needs depends on a few key factors:
- For Tesla drivers, the Supercharger network is the obvious choice. Superchargers offer the fastest speeds and simplest charging experience specifically tailored for your Tesla.
- For non-Tesla EVs, CCS will be your best bet. As the standardized fast charging system, CCS will provide the most convenient access across networks as infrastructure scales up nationwide.
- If you take frequent long road trips, Tesla‘s faster and more consistent Supercharging speeds will minimize charging stops. But as CCS networks expand, the convenience gap for non-Tesla owners is narrowing.
- For primarily regional driving, focus on charger availability in your area. Compare Tesla & CCS regional station maps to determine the best local network.
- Choosing an EV like the Ford Mustang Mach E with both CCS and Tesla compatibility provides maximum charging flexibility. You can access both major fast charging networks.
While Tesla currently maintains advantages in charging speed and availability, CCS growth is starting to catch up as adoption rises. Think about your driving needs, local infrastructure, and EV model capabilities to pick the charging network(s) that‘s right for you!
I hope this overview gives you a better understanding of Tesla Supercharging compared to CCS fast charging. Let me know if you have any other questions!