Tesla Supercharger membership program threatens EV charging competitors

Tesla has launched a new membership for charging your non-Tesla vehicle at a reduced rate at Tesla Supercharging locations.

For the longest time, while EV drivers complained about the charging experiences provided by many charging providers, notably Electrify America, they have been prevented from accessing the market leader, the Tesla Supercharging network. As Tesla begins to open its Superchargers to non-Teslas through the Magic Dock, that barrier to competition has been removed, and Tesla has opened a membership to capitalize on it.

Memberships from Tesla, Electrify America, and EVGo all operate similarly. By paying a monthly fee, you can access a lower price per kWh (or price per minute, depending on where you live), typically roughly 25% cheaper than the non-membership rate. Coming in at $12.99 per month, the Supercharging membership is undoubtedly more expensive than membership offerings from Electrify America and others at roughly $4 per month. Still, despite the higher cost, many non-Tesla drivers are already calling the charging experience superior.

While sadly, non-Tesla vehicles are not immediately recognized by Superchargers, which would allow the driver to plug in and walk away; it only requires two other steps. When you arrive at the charger, you identify which stall you are parked at and scan a QR code at the charger, then press start charging. And while this experience is far more clunky than the one offered to Tesla drivers, it still beats out the experience at the vast majority of other chargers.

On top of this operational advantage, which is quickly going to be apparent to customers when they use the service, Superchargers have proven themselves to be the more dependable option as well. Electrify America chargers have gained the unfortunate reputation for being unreliable and inconsistent, only further incentivizing non-Tesla drivers to choose Supercharger locations.

It should be noted that currently, Tesla’s Magic Dock is far from widespread or battle-tested, but as the automaker continues to spread this availability, its threat to charging competitors will only become more apparent.

At the very least, the path forward for Tesla’s new charging competitors is a clear one; continue to improve the charging experience and reduce downtime to at least Tesla-parity. However, for the time being, Tesla is now offering a product that is quite considerably better, and it will likely attract customers to its new members no matter the price. Hopefully, it can serve as a wake-up call for charging companies, leading to a better charging experience for everyone in the near future.

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