Tesla unveiled today an updated Model S and Model X design featuring a new dual connector charge port system to support more than one charging standard on its electric vehicles.
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Currently, the charge port on all Tesla vehicles is located within the tail light on the driver’s side, but the actual connectors are different depending on the market.
In the US and Canada, it features Tesla’s own proprietary connector and in Europe, the company uses the standard Mennekes plug.
In China, Tesla was using the same charging system as the one it uses in Europe until now.
As the electric vehicle industry is maturing, automakers and charging network operators are trying to work together on open charging standards while adapting to specific requirements in different markets.
Tesla’s new dual connector charge port design appears to be the company’s solution to navigate those markets starting with China.
The Chinese government developed its own charging standard ‘GB’ and now Tesla has the standard built into its cars:
In order to fit both connectors, Tesla had to move the charge port from the backlight (top right in the right picture), which makes it looks more like a gas tank access design than what Tesla was aiming for with its original design.
Here’s what it looks like on Model S and Model X with the port closed:
Tesla has been building an extensive charging network in China and this is not changing anything about Tesla’s own Supercharger effort, but it will enable an easier access for Tesla owners to the growing public charging network in the country.
China has a new ZEV mandate to deploy 5 million EVs by 2020 and to support that, the government will deploy itself 12,000 new charging stations across the country. They are also working on an incentive plan for EV buyers to install home charging stations – they are planning to unlock $20 billion in financing for 4.8 million residential charging stations.
Those stations need to work with their new national charging standard, which likely drove this move from Tesla. Last year, Tesla also launched ‘Tesla Charging Partner Program’ in China to promote the national EV charging standard.
While we are only seeing this from Tesla in China for now, we expect that the solution could end up being used in other markets too.
China has its own standard plug, but companies everywhere else are adopting the CCS standard. Last year, Tesla joined the CharIN organization as a core member to promote the CCS standard, but we have yet to see any implementations in the company’s product line.
Current Chinese Tesla owners will still have access to the public charging stations thanks to a new free adapter for the GB plug.
Tesla could always go the same route with adapters for CCS, but if this design change on its Chinese vehicles is an indication, it looks like Tesla could bring the same design to support CCS directly in its other markets.
Either way, we are seeing more support for charging standards and access to more charging stations, which can only be good for EV enthusiasts.