Tesla’s electric vehicles (EVs) have been around for a while, but have definitely seen an uptick in popularity in recent years, as have EVs on the whole. As the world is moving towards mandating EVs over traditional gas-fueled vehicles, you wouldn’t be the only person considering buying one. While there’s some controversy over the production of EVs, it still stands that they’re far superior to traditional vehicles in terms of energy usage, sustainability, and environmental impact.
If you’ve recently picked up an EV or are thinking about it, it’s only natural to consider what options you have when it comes to charging it up. Most of your charging will probably be done at home, but when you’re out in public, you can make use of rapid charging stations that are situated across the U.S. Tesla’s Supercharger stations and CCS (Combined Charging System) stations are almost identical in prevalence, but differ in their design and usage. Read on for a Tesla Supercharger vs. CCS comparison so you can be informed on the differences.
Tesla Supercharger vs. CCS: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Additional Inlet Required?||No||No|
|Voltage||480 V||200 – 1000 V|
|Charge Time||25 – 30 mins||20 mins – 1 hour|
|Developer||Tesla||Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA)|
Tesla Supercharger vs. CCS: What’s the Difference?
Both Tesla Supercharger and CCS are fast charging options for your EV, but there are some differences. We’ve broken these down below.
The designs for the Tesla Supercharger and CCS connectors are markedly different, as you could expect. The CCS connector type in the U.S. makes use of a type 1 J1772 charging inlet and is capable of charging via slower AC or faster DC. This is what gives it the name Combined Charging System. The European market uses a different inlet, known as the type 2 Mennekes inlet. Whether you’re planning to charge via AC or DC, the same adapter is used, the only difference being if the two DC pins at the bottom are being used or not. Being able to use one adapter for charging at home or a public station is convenient. You may need a particular adapter for home charging, depending on what type of outlet you have.
Compared to the CCS, the Tesla Supercharger looks different, but functions mostly the same. Charging can be done at a public charging station or at home, provided you have the correct adapter for your home outlet. Like with CCS, a separate adapter isn’t required to use AC or DC charging, as it’s all handled within the one connector. Apart from Europe, all markets use the same type of Tesla connector.
When it comes to charging your vehicle, the process is very similar regardless of what connector and vehicle you’re using. To make use of DC fast charging, you’ll likely be at a public charging station. This is because DC isn’t available for home charging. You’ll probably have to pay for this service, either as you go or as part of a subscription, but you may be able to get free charging as an incentive from your workplace.
Some EVs come with some amount of charging credits, such as some models from Volkswagen, Chevy and Ford. Tesla owners who made a purchase through a referral program may also be entitled to free credits, as well as those who purchased between December 15 – December 31 2022. Those lucky early adopters (before 2017) can also make use of free Supercharging for life. Tesla does now offer a CCS adapter as well so that you have the option of charging your Tesla at a CCS charging port rather than only Tesla ports.
Whether you’re using a Tesla Supercharger or CCS, the current provided is AC. As opposed to AC charging, where the vehicle converts the AC into DC, the Tesla or CCS adapter converts the current itself. This incorporated connector is part of the reason why charging is so much quicker with this method. Either way, the process is rather simple and instructions are usually included at the charging point to guide you. Once your car is parked up, you’ll need to open the charging port and plug in the cable to the correct connection. After charging, you’ll pay via an app or contactless payment. The only difference with the Tesla Supercharger is that you’ll have to go through an authentication process. This is to prove you’re a Tesla owner.
Since both CCS and Tesla Supercharger use DC, you can expect charging times to be significantly faster than AC. When these chargers first came out, the maximum supplied current was around 50 kW and 100 kW for CCS and the original Tesla Supercharger respectively. These have been vastly improved as the years have gone on so that you can find charging stations up to 350 kW for CCS and 250 kW for V3 Supercharger stations.
While this seems like a huge difference, you may not see much in reality. This is because CCS have a range of kW in their stations and the power supplied is largely dependent on the voltage also. The charge rate also tends to slow down as you approach a fuller charge, and a more consistent supply of power will usually win out over time instead of a sometimes quick, sometimes slow supply. All in all, Tesla Supercharger seems to charge Teslas somewhat faster, but you’ll rarely be waiting for over an hour with fast charging by any method.
CCS stations made their debut in 2013 in Wolfsburg, Germany a couple of years after their proposal. They were developed through a collaboration with the ACEA and the SAE. Nowadays, they are essentially the standard for charging EVs across the U.S.
Tesla developed their Supercharger stations at a similar time, and, like CCS, these have become more widespread as time went on. While Tesla’s charging technology isn’t yet seen as the standard, Tesla EVs reportedly outnumber CCS vehicles by a ratio of 2 to 1, and the use of these charging stations is often a popular reason for buying a Tesla model. Tesla themselves have recently begun calling their technology the North American Charging Standard, or NACS, but this is a relatively short-term development.
Practically speaking, most EVs in the U.S. will utilize CCS charging. So if you’ve bought a new EV it’s very likely you’ll depend on CCS. The majority of car manufacturers support CCS, including Ford, Jeep, Chrysler, Mercedes, General Motors, Volkswagen, BMW, Honda and many others. Even most Tesla models can use a CCS adapter to make use of these charging stations.
All current Tesla models can use Supercharger stations. This includes the Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X and Tesla Model Y. As previously mentioned, most of these can also use CCS with a suitable adapter cable. Currently in the U.S., non-Tesla vehicles cannot make use of Tesla charging stations. It’s a different case across Europe and Australia, where non-Tesla owners have been able to use Tesla stations since 2021. It’s yet to be determined whether there are plans to implement this across the U.S. Overall, there are more CCS charging stations worldwide than Tesla Superchargers, but in North America, the numbers are very similar.
Tesla Supercharger vs. CCS: 7 Must-Know Facts
- There are more CCS charging stations worldwide, but in North America, the numbers are almost the same
- Most EVs in the U.S. will use CCS charging
- Currently, only Tesla models can use Tesla Superchargers in the U.S. This will change at the start of 2024 when Ford and GM EVs gain access to 12,000 Tesla Superchargers with an adaptor. Both Ford and GM will feature Tesla’s North American Charging Standard connector starting in 2025.
- Tesla models can use CCS chargers, but require an additional adapter cable
- Those who purchase a Tesla model through a referral program can receive free credits
- Tesla models bought before 2017 can enjoy free, unlimited supercharging
- Tesla Supercharger seems to charge faster than CCS
Tesla Supercharger vs. CCS: Which is Better? Which One Should You Use?
Whichever EV model you decide to go for will mostly dictate what charging station you’ll use the most. The vast majority of EVs will use CCS, so it’s likely this will be your choice if you haven’t purchased a Tesla model. However, Tesla models can make use of CCS with an adapter cable. This will likely be slower, though, since Tesla Supercharger tends to charge faster than CCS. You can use both charging types at home, which is where you’ll do most of your charging. So, realistically, you might not notice much difference. Home charging is also cheaper than rapid charging. If you’ve bought an early Tesla model or through referral, it’s the smarter choice to use Supercharger. This is because you’ll either have free charging or credits to use.
While it’s been shown that Tesla models do have the design capabilities to carry out bidirectional charging, in reality, this hasn’t been implemented yet with their chargers. Bidirectional charging can theoretically be used to charge other devices, other EVs or even offload power back to the power grid, but this isn’t currently possible with either charging type. Therefore, this won’t affect your choice much.
Tesla Supercharger Network in the News
In May 2023, Ford and General Motors (GM) announced that their EV customers will be able to use Tesla’s Supercharger network, the largest fast-charging network in North America, starting in the spring of 2024 using an adaptor. And beginning in 2025, both Ford and GM will build Supercharger-ready ports into their EVs.
Recent Technology Updates for the Tesla Supercharger and CCS
Since February 2023, there have been technological advances for Tesla Superchargers and CCS, including:
- Tesla Supercharger V3: Since February 2023, Tesla updated their Supercharger to the V3 version which offers faster charging speeds.
- Combined charging system (CCS)2: The CCS2 is an update to the CCS standard which offers better compatibility for electric vehicles and faster charging speeds.
Potential Technology Advances for the Tesla Supercharger and CCS
While planned technology advancements have not been announced for the Tesla Supercharger and CCS, it is likely that you may see some or all of the following in the next six to 18 months:
- Faster charging speeds: Charging speeds are expected to continue to improve for Tesla Superchargers and CCS chargers.
- More widespread availability: Even though Tesla Superchargers and CCS chargers more widespread, these chargers are expected to become even more available.
- Over-the-air updates: We can expect to see over-the-air updates for electric vehicles which can improve charging speeds and help add new features.
- Intelligent charging: We can expect to see intelligent charging becoming more common for electric vehicles which allows EVs to charge at more efficient times. This can help reduce charging costs.
- Vehicle-to-grid (V2G): We can expect to see V2G become more common for electric vehicles. This allows electric vehicles to send power back to the power grid.