The Great Tesla Charger Opening Will Begin With Ford

What made the difference? A road trip by Ford’s CEO, apparently.

A white Ford Mustang Mach-E at a Tesla Supercharger charging station.
Superchargers: not just for Teslas anymore

Did you hear about the great Tesla charger unshackling? In February, the White House and Elon Musk jointly announced that the electric vehicle company would open up a section of its enviable charging network to all EV owners. While fast chargers from a variety of companies are springing up around the country, Tesla still has the best network around, and this signaled a potential watershed moment for EV adoption. But now Ford is doing its drivers one better.

Starting in early 2024, Ford EV owners will get access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers in the United States and Canada, the company announced Thursday. That means Ford F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit drivers will have their fast-charging network more than doubled (Ford’s BlueOval network currently has about 10,000 DC fast-chargers) — and the same goes for drivers of Ford’s future electric vehicles, as it’s aiming to launch a number of “next-generation EVs” in 2025. 

Not only does this new deal give Ford owners access to Tesla Superchargers earlier than other automakers under the deal brokered by the Biden administration (where all the allocated chargers will be open by late 2024, though some are already open), but it gives them access to thousands more chargers, too. When Tesla opens up part of its charging network to all, that will only include “3,500 new and existing Superchargers along highway corridors” and “4,000 slower chargers at locations like hotels and restaurants,” but the Ford deal includes more than three times that number of fast-charging stations.

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In terms of how this will be implemented in practical terms, a Ford press release notes that “[a] Tesla-developed adapter will provide Ford F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit vehicles fitted with the Combined Charging System (CCS) port access to Tesla’s V3 Superchargers. Ford will equip future EVs with the NACS charge port, removing the need for an adapter for direct access to Tesla Superchargers, starting in 2025.” Payment will also reportedly be handled via the FordPass app or Ford Pro Intelligence platform — no Tesla tech needed.

Why did Ford decide it was worth it to pay Tesla to open up a larger swath of its charging network? Apparently, a big factor was the personal experience of Ford CEO Jim Farley when he took a family road trip to Lake Tahoe in an EV in 2022.

“My kids kept looking at me and going: ‘Hey, Dad, there’s another Supercharger. Can we stop there? How about there?’” Farley recounted to Musk in a Twitter Spaces conversation on Thursday when the deal was announced, per The Washington Post. “I was like, ‘No, we have to go over here behind this other building.’ So it kind of became obvious to me the job your team had done and what it means for customers.”

It turns out that in order to make the best decisions for EV adoption in America, the decision makers actually need to drive electric cars themselves. Who knew? 

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