PBS News Hour’s Science Correspondent Miles O’Brien found out for himself that charging an EV and getting the power you need when you want it can be pretty darn complicated on a road trip in California.
Considering that California has more charging stations than any other state, the delays and problems were discouraging. One of the program’s expert guests said that the intention of the company that installs and maintains the charging stations is to make sure that they are available 100% of the time, similar to a gas station.
That’s still far from true.
I wouldn’t consider buying a pure EV as my main transportation. Maybe a hybrid.
That explains it. The Tesla charging network is far more mature than the other networks. Tesla has better designed chargers and maintains their charging stations a lot more regularly than any other charging network.
Part of the problem is that one of the biggest charging networks out there was created simply as part of a penalty settlement. So they do the minimum necessary rather than caring about level/quality of service. And the other automakers figured that they may as well “free ride” as much as possible on charging networks rather than invest on their own a bit to improve them.
We’re headed down the hybrid road, eventually… Waiting on grandson to get his license, take over the Civic, then we’ll go on to a CRV… Darn kids don’t care about wheels it seems, not the same game when I was a kid…
Interesting that anyone wanting to write a “how difficult it is to charge” (hit piece, click bait?) article has stopped driving Teslas.
I’m going on a 1500+ mile trip (one way) in a couple of months and there are 2x to 3x as many Tesla Superchargers as I’ll need along the way, except in one place – near Glacier Natl Park. I booked a hotel that says you can reserve an EV charger for a price, but guests are free. I called just today to check and they said, yes it is free 8pm to 8am. But they only have Tesla Destination chargers.
(Actually I went and checked and found about 25 Superchargers on the route. After my initial charge at home I may need about 6 or 8 of them. I’m ignoring the dozen or two I’ll drive by in CA that I’ll not need.)
Yes, Tesla opening its chargers to other brands will help. The PBS program noted that Teslas were available but couldn’t charge their vehicle.
Maintenace was a problem. One would not acceot credit card. Wanted cash at 11 pm. (personally i would drive to the closest atm.). One stopped charging after one hour. Only slow chargers available. One installed but not yet in service.
Ages n ages ago I looked at converting my brand new F250 to Propane, double tanks in the bed, to extend the range to try to match the dual tank towing package, but after a lot of looking around, the hassles of travel, towing while having to look for propane availability, long before cell phones & Google, I cancelled out of the thoughts, it would have cost a bit, but also so great for the engine (460 ci), I really wanted to do it… We can see the supply problems now with chargers, fast chargers, restricted access… Transition times…
ChargePoint and EVGo and whoever else’s networks are overpriced, slow, need a lot more buildout and need a lot more support and reliability. This is why Tesla has an order-of-magnitude lead. But it’s not news. It’s shoddy scare-mongering journalism to pretend Tesla doesn’t exist, unless they can actually influence those Corps and government to do what Tesla has done - 6 to 10 years later.
Roadtrips to way upstate NY (500 mi round trip), Acadia Natl Park (500 mi rt) and western Virginia (1200 mi rt) completed with no problems and just an extra 45m per 600 miles charging over refueling, with a lower range standard M3. Which cost the same as a nice SUV.
If you want to talk about the state of EV charging in general, you need to look at more than just Tesla. Yes, Tesla’s charging network is pretty good. But not everyone wants to drive a Tesla. For some, a Tesla doesn’t meet their needs. (cough … pickup truck … cough, cough) Some won’t have anything to do with Elon - he is a rather polarizing person.
Is it a hit piece if you test out a bunch of non-Tesla chargers and find that several have problems? They didn’t make up the problems with the chargers. The problems are real. Allowing that you might want to take a scenic route from LA to SF, I’m not going to complain about their route selection. But even along that 500 mile route, did they really need to stop 9 times to charge over two days? Of course not. They were testing out the availability of charging.
They also clearly pointed out the advantages of fast DC charging, which are becoming more available outside the Tesla charging network. One of the problems they pointed out is the need for communication between the vehicle and charger to accomplish DC charging. Tesla has no problem with this, as both are in house. But non-Tesla chargers need to communicate with a variety of vehicles, and that has the potential for issues.
Today I found out that ChargePoint does not own the network, it does not even franchise the network, they call themselves a Service as a Service, they sell the equipment and provide software to bill and otherwise manage the chargers but each owner does and charges whatever he/she/it wants.
Curiously that is similar to the difference between Mac and Windows. Mac insisted that developers follow the Apple User Interface Guidelines while Microsoft had no similar directives. When we were developing our Desktop Help for Mac we discovered that Microsoft Excel was not following the rules for Cut, Copy, & Paste. While pitching our software to Apple we reported this. At first they were skeptical but checked the code. We were right. Apple picked up the phone to Redmond and told Microsoft to fix it which Microsoft did. (1985)
With this difference in approach it’s no wonder that Tesla’s Supercharger network works better.
True, but I guess it depends on the goal of articles like this. If the (unstated) goal is the same as the oil industry’s goal, to delay conversion to EVs as long as possible, then it is fair to simply point out all the problems. But if it is to give a view of technological progress on how to potentially solve a part of the climate change crisis then it does measure up. Showing that Tesla has, essentially, solved the charger installation and maintenance challenge should be in line with how most of the media treats climate change and constantly tells us that it is a crisis, stay tuned for more info soon.
Remember ~5 years ago? Many of the road trip charging (hit pieces on EVs) articles were with Teslas. Many had various problems, including a few faked low battery cases until they found out that Tesla could track their cars.
I guess if you want to think that their goal is to write a hit piece, no amount of discussion will change your mind.
I prefer to look at it as an honest assessment of the state of charging. And it sure looks like there’s room for improvement, especially if you get away from interstates and larger urban areas.
That’s at least partially true for Tesla chargers as well. There are only four Tesla charging stations in North Dakota - all of them along I-94. Looks like 10 in South Dakota, mostly along I-90 with one or two in the Black Hills area.
Wyoming - maybe 10 or so, all along interstates plus one in the Yellowstone/Teton area.
Nebraska - 5 on I-80.
New Mexico - 9 by my count. Again only along interstates.
This is all from Tesla’s own map of superchargers. If you get away from the interstates in these areas, you’ll have to rely on non-Tesla chargers. So those are important to Tesla drivers as well.
My bottom line: If people don’t point out problems, how will those problems get addressed? If news outlets don’t point out issues with EV chargers - especially for non-Tesla owners - what incentive do those other charging networks have to improve their systems? If your goal is more EV adoption, you should be encouraging an honest assessment of charging availability.
One of the worst things that could happen in the conversion to EVs is for consumers to have a bad experience with their EV which makes them want to return to an ICE vehicle. Charging is definitely part of the experience, and for the majority of people who rent their home and don’t have a place to charge, they must rely on public chargers.
I also think it is a reasonable assessment for the non-Tesla part of the market. But in CA, I think there are far more Teslas than non-Tesla EVs. I tried to find the actual numbers but all searches just gave one year market numbers…but in any case it seems to have been about 75% in prior years dropping to 50ish% more recently. So I think an honest assessment would include the same trip with a car that most EV-owning Californians drive. But they wouldn’t do that because it would be a boring report.
A report meant to evaluate the overall condition of non-Tesla chargers would have checked many dozens of charging stations all over the state (or hundreds over the country). At best this is anecdotal data.
If someone wants to get an idea of what is possible and where things are headed just take a virtual trip on I-5 from LA to SF. That is the heaviest concentration of where most people, in CA drive further than one full charge. (I just made that up but it is probably true)
Ignore the chargers within 50 miles of your starting point since there are many of these but you probably wouldn’t need them. You’ll find about 16 Tesla Supercharger locations (3 or 4 right next to each other) and a total of over 440 fast chargers. And I don’t think any are more than ~50 miles apart. Most people would only need to stop at one of these, maybe 2.
This info is part of the honest assessment of state of EV charging. All done in about 10 years by a (then) small startup. It shouldn’t really be a problem to duplicate that in the next 10 years if the so-called Tesla competitors get serious about competing.
That was kind of my point in a later reply. If you’re willing to stick to interstates, the Tesla charging network is easily up to the job. The issue comes in when you get off the interstates and are outside of the East and West coasts. Both Tesla and non-Tesla charging gets pretty sparse in some places away from interstates.
This is why I reject your proposed LA - SF route as reflecting real-world use, and why I think that the PBS route is more realistic. Sure, if my goal is to get between those two cities in the shortest amount of time, I suspect any EV with a 250+ mile range will have no problem at all. But life isn’t always about getting from here to there in the fastest time. There is some really nice scenery to explore along the California coast. And what better way to do that than in a zero emission EV? Be kind to nature while you’re enjoying it. Except, of course, that EV charging becomes an issue along that route - at least for non-Teslas. (I didn’t check, but since Tesla chargers are pretty reliable, although potentially crowded, I suspect the scenic route would be fine for them.)
Another point I was making is that Tesla isn’t going to be the sole source of EVs, much to the chagrin of all the Tesla fanbois. From a practical standpoint, they mainly sell one car today (the Model Y). All the other Tesla cars are nice but mostly irrelevant. If that one car (or any of the other 3 they sell) don’t meet your needs, you’re going to buy something else.
So once again, the solution isn’t to tout the wonders of Tesla, it’s to get these competing non-Tesla charging systems to step up their game. That makes the market for all EVs larger - including Tesla. Because even Teslas will likely use non-Tesla chargers from time to time.
Do you disagree that the LA-SF route is the most heavily traveled? Isn’t that the obvious place to build out first?
I guess I’m just a glass half full kind of person on EV adoption.
So would you agree the the we’ve established a concrete proof point?
Now, on to the next step…the ball is now in the hands of the non-Tesla EV makers to catch up.
Maybe you heard the news. Tesla has started adding CCS adapters to some of their Superchargers.
I predict the availability of chargers for non-Teslas is going to increase.