Tesla has finally made it possible for Model 3 owners to use DC fast chargers that aren't part of its own Supercharger network. It just released an update for the EV that adds compatibility with all "CHAdeMO" DC fast chargers across North America. Now, Model 3 owners can pay $450 for the same adapter that's been available to Model S and Model X owners for a long time now, and get a fast charge at nearly any third-party station.
Tesla Superchargers are widely distributed, so Model 3 pilots rarely need access to third-party chargers. Still, CEO Elon Musk promised that the EV would be CHAdeMO compatible when it launched, and that was two years ago. It might be a case of timing -- Tesla is about to start Model 3 deliveries in Japan, where CHAdeMO charging reigns supreme.
Most DC chargers across North America are compatible with the CCS and CHAdeMO systems. However, while Tesla uses CHAdeMO stateside, it has switched to CCS (shown above) in Europe since it's the most common standard there. That switch has led to hopes that Musk might one day open up its exclusive Supercharger network to other EV manufacturers.
The third-party DC chargers are limited to 50kW compared to 150kW max for a Supercharger, but if you happen to be in the sticks without a Supercharger in sight, it's 100 percent better than nothing. As Tesla points out, except for rare cases, DC chargers usually require a subscription and are generally more costly than Superchargers. So, if you plan to use CHAdeMO with firms like Electrify America or ChargePoint, you'll likely need to sign up and, if possible, confirm everything works before you leave.