Tesla Supercharger network: where can I charge in the UK?
The Tesla Supercharger network brings speed and convenience to electric car driving. Here's how it works
The Tesla Supercharger network is arguably the blueprint of EV charge point networks. Launch a car (or four - enter the Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y), then give the people somewhere to charge and boom.
As questionable as some of his tweets (Xeets? Exes?) are, Elon Musk isn't daft.
Resolving that classic chicken-or-egg-first conundrum, the Supercharger network is now well-established. It recently celebrated its 10th anniversary in Europe, giving all Tesla (and some non-Tesla) drivers free electricity for the day.
It launched with wild ambitions of being fully solar-powered and offered free energy to all Model S customers for the lifetime of their cars... initially. Sadly, those perks are nowhere near as generous these days.
That said, in May 2022 Tesla launched a pilot scheme to enable non-Tesla drivers to use the Superchargers at some UK sites. And with EV drivers needing as much infrastructure as possible as uptake increases, that's very handy indeed.
What did they go and do that for?
Well, Tesla levies a pence per kilowatt-hour fee to its customers, but allowing non-Tesla drivers to use Superchargers means it can charge those people more. So more revenue.
Plus if the Supercharger stations are full, Tesla drivers will naturally start queuing up at other third party charging points, and arguably it makes sense to give non-Tesla owners reciprocal access. Fair’s fair.
Nice. Do I need a special card or passcode to use a Tesla Supercharger?
Nope. If you’re a Tesla driver, you can turn up, plug in and use your ginormous touchscreen once you’ve finished charging to find out how much it cost you. But the charger can already tell who you are and who to bill once connected and glowing.
If you’re a non-Tesla driver, you need to use the Tesla app to initiate the charge and pay. Unless you've stumbled across Tesla's first UK V4 Superchargers, opened at the Tesla Centre in Tottenham in August 2023: those have contactless payment pads as required by the law now. More are on the way.
Otherwise, there's no touchscreen on the Supercharger itself, sorry.
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Tesla drivers pay around 69p/kWh (it varies by location), while everyone else will need to fork out about 10p/kWh more for the privilege.
However, you can get a charging membership to cut that cost if you'll be using Superchargers frequently. That's £10.99 per month, so best get your calculator out.
Is any part of the Tesla Supercharger Network free?
Not really. Tesla has Destination chargers, which offer up to 22kW and can often be free or nominally financed. For example, you may have to pay to park at a hotel, but you can charge overnight. But not always. Zap-Map is a good resource to know what’s available, where and for how much. But Tesla owners can get that info from the navigation suite.
And what are these 'idle fees' I've heard about?
Ah, those are for drivers who don't shift their cars out of a bay within five minutes of their charge finishing. Once complete, you'll be billed an extra 50 pence for every minute you remain plugged in, which is meant to encourage you to get a move on so other people aren't kept waiting.
The fee only applies if a Supercharger station is 50 per cent occupied or more: if it's at capacity, the idle fee doubles. Best to keep an eye on how things are progressing with the Tesla app so you don't pay more than you have to.
How big is the Tesla Supercharger network?
It’s huge, and growing. Of the 40,000-plus Superchargers in the world, over 1,100 of them can be found in the UK. Superchargers are designed for long-distance travel so tend to be found in bulk at service stations. Tesla also has that Destination charger network of course, but Superchargers charge faster.
How much faster?
Superchargers in the UK generally vary from 120kW to 150kW. V4 Superchargers are allegedly capable of peaking at 250kW, and Tesla claims they have been 'future-proofed' so that higher speeds can be unlocked in the future. Watch this space.
Hang on, I thought that was already possible?
You're right. Tesla introduced its first, previous-gen 'V3' Supercharger to the UK in 2019, topping out at 250kW (on a good day). At the last count, there are 18 V3 charging locations across the UK, with 22 V3 Superchargers open to non-Tesla customers.
There's talk of a software release being developed to convert V3 chargers into V4s, which (again, allegedly) would allow power of up to 324kW, but this is still very much in the pipeline.
Either way, a Tesla Supercharger is still likely to give you more than the 50kW most so-called 'rapid' chargers are stuck with at the moment. And did you know some of the 'ultra fast' 350kW charging points in the UK can only manage that figure for a short time? The same is true of some Superchargers, but still.
Yep. It's like broadband: the headline rate they advertise isn't necessarily the rate you'll get.
Whatever. How much range am I getting from a quick Supercharger stop?
Depends on what car you're driving. The Model S can replenish up to 200 miles in 15 minutes, whereas the Model Y can get up to 150 miles in the same window.
If you aren't driving a Tesla, you'll need to know your car's maximum charging speed to work out how long you'll need to stop for.
How reliable is the Tesla supercharger network?
We've always found the Tesla Supercharger network to be highly reliable, and there's evidence (e.g. long queues in multiple countries) that we're not alone in thinking so.
The company continues to add sites to its UK network, and it'll need to keep that up if it wants to cater for everyone...
And how many UK Superchargers can I use without a Tesla?
Some 158 Superchargers across 15 stations are participating in that pilot scheme. They are located in Aberystwyth, Adderstone, Aviemore, Banbury, Birmingham St-Andrews, Cardiff, Dundee, Flint, Folkestone Eurotunnel, Grays, Manchester Trafford Centre, Trumpington, Thetford, Uxbridge and Wokingham.