Tesla is adopting a new charging port for the Model 3 launch in Europe, a move that will enable owners to take advantage of third-party fast chargers. The company confirmed to Inverse on Wednesday that it will use the CCS Combo 2 socket for the upcoming launch instead of the modified DC Type-2 connector currently used for Tesla’s European cars.

The move is part of a wider upgrade in the company’s charging solutions. Tesla will start selling an adapter for Model S and X vehicles to charge using the new connector, and Tesla plans to start upgrading its more than 3,600 European “Superchargers” to offer the existing connector as well as CCS Combo 2 in a dual charge cable. All future European superchargers will offer two cables with each connector.

A Tesla spokesperson confirmed the move to Inverse in this statement:

While Tesla owners already have access to the most convenient and reliable charging solutions available between home charging, Supercharging and Destination Charging, we want to expand their ability to charge at third party fast chargers. In advance of Model 3 rollout in Europe, we will be retrofitting our existing Superchargers with dual charge cables to enable Model 3 which will come with a CCS Combo 2 charge port, to use the Tesla Supercharger network. Model S and Model X customers will continue to have full access to the network and a CCS Combo 2 adapter will soon be available to purchase, if desired.

A CCS Combo 2 connector (left) and an IEC Type 2 connector (right).
A CCS Combo 2 connector (left) and an IEC Type 2 connector (right).

The shift is big news for drivers that want to charge and get back on the road fast. Tesla’s European cars currently use a Type-2 connector that supports AC charging from public spots, where a 22kW point can fully charge a Model S in three-and-a-half hours. That’s pretty slow, but Tesla’s Supercharger network can use that same socket to provide 120kW of DC power to reach 80 percent in around half an hour. The current situation means if there’s no Supercharger around, you could be waiting a while to get back on the road. There are over 5,000 CCS Combo 2 charge points in Europe, some of which support up to 150kW.

The plug could offer even faster speeds in the future. Ionity, a rapid charging network started as a joint venture between BMW, Daimler, Ford Motor Group, the Volkswagen Group, Audi and Porsche, plans to offer 400 charging stations across 19 European countries by 2020. These superfast chargers are capable of supporting huge amounts of power up to 350kW. Tesla has made no official announcement of supporting such speeds, but CEO Elon Musk previously teased even more powerful chargers as part of a future supercharger upgrade:

Tesla started its Model 3 European launch this week, with plans to start producing significant volumes in January ready to reach the continent in February and March. Musk previously told Inverse that a right-hand drive model for the United Kingdom should arrive by the middle of next year. Orders are set to reach Asia Pacific in the first half of 2019. While the company had a backlog of nearly half a million pre-orders for the car when it first launched in July 2017, Musk estimates that with this global expansion, demand could reach “probably in the order of anywhere from 500,000 to one million cars a year.”

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