how Tesla lost the charging battle on the highway

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If Tesla really is a must in fast charging, however, we did notice a difference in size compared to other players: its location is usually off highways. We will return to this phenomenon in detail, trying to understand how we got there. What are the pros and cons for electric car drivers?

Traveling by electric car is becoming easier, in particular thanks to the drastic increase in the number of fast charging stations across Europe. Electric mobility players fought in 2022 to break charging station opening records, to the delight of drivers of connected vehicles.

However, between Ionity, Tesla, Fastned or Totalenergies, we are forced to note significant differences. At a time when Tesla is opening up more and more Superchargers to all vehicles, it can no longer be seen as an operator reserved for the brand’s cars. Let’s take a look together at how charging works for long trips and why Tesla already seems to have lost the highway charging battle.

Where are Tesla’s superchargers?

There is no doubt that Tesla is very well established in Europe and in France, with more than 130 Supercharger stations installed to date in metropolitan France. In terms of available charging stations, this corresponds to almost 1,700 for France alone, that is, more than 12 terminals per Supercharger station. For comparison, Ionity, number 2, has around 570 in France.

The Tesla Superchargers map in January 2023

With such an impressive number of terminals, it may be legitimate to wonder where they are located, especially for those traveling on the highway. In fact, with a few exceptions, Tesla’s superchargers tend to be off-roadin shopping center or hotel parking lots, when they are not simply in the middle of nowhere.

Not offering freeway loading permits people who travel on the secondary network to recharge without problems, and this is also useful for locals who don’t have a charging solution at home: there’s no need to take a toll stretch of highway to charge your vehicle’s battery. Tesla is almost an exception in this regard, because large fast-charging operators Ionity, Totalenergies and Fastned build most of their terminals in highway service areas.

When finding the charger takes longer than charging itself

If the advantage of an off-road charge is undeniable when traveling avoiding tolls, the disadvantages are significant for those who cross the country at high speed on the highway. In fact, at the time of V3 superchargers that can send out up to 250 kW on a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y battery, the detour required to reach the charger may be longer than the load itself.

The Mâcon supercharger: 20 terminals available // Source: Bob Jouy for Frandroid

In many cases, a 500-kilometre motorway trip through part of France requires two or three electric car charges, with charges that can be relatively short. If you can reach your destination by charging three times ten minutes, for example, it is better for you not to leave the highway, otherwise the time lost due to the load will increase considerably.

In fact, getting to a charging point a few kilometers from a motorway exit often involves passing a toll gate and navigating to the parking lot where the terminals are located, which easily takes around five minutes. The way back takes so long adding ten minutes of bypass to a fast charge is easier than you thinkespecially with Superchargers that are in commercial areas that are difficult to access during peak periods.

The Tours Supercharger in the commercial area, with many places occupied by thermal vehicles // Source: 1TeslaOtherwiseNothing on Twitter

This is particularly the case for the new Superchargers established since 2021, in Perpignan, Montpellier, Bordeaux and Honfleur. All these Superchargers have the particularity of being in a shopping area near the highway as the crow flies, of course, but in practice it takes long minutes to reach the famous charging point, once you have left the highway.

Why Tesla is not installed on the road?

If Tesla primarily chooses off-road locations with its share of ridership limitations, Why don’t you install more Superchargers in service areas? ? In fact, as of 2019, some Superchargers are in different areas. We can mention in particular the Poulet de Bresse area, the Vidauban Sud area or the Vendée area, where 12 Superchargers work alongside the Ionity terminals.

More currently, Tesla’s standard is to install 16, 20 or even 28 terminals charging at the same time, which means having the largest number of parking spaces reserved for fast charging. If this is conceivable in a shopping center car park with several hundred spaces, in a motorway service area with fifty spaces, it is a much more complicated mission.

A Tesla Model S on Supercharge // Source: Bob Jouy for Frandroid

In fact, it is difficult to imagine that during the great summer crossings, the approximately 20 spaces reserved for charging electric vehicles in a crowded area will be respected, where finding a place to park becomes an impossible mission. We also have an article dedicated to our 4,000 km trip in France during the summer 2022 crossover.

Also, with a few exceptions, Ionity or Totalenergies stations only have 4-8 terminals, much less than each Tesla Supercharger station. We can also imagine that operators of the service areas (which are usually associated with an oil company) could have turned their eyes to Ionity, a partner of Shell, or Totalenergies, instead of Tesla.

Where are the others?

Since 2022, the installation of fast charging stations has dramatically accelerated in France, with just two players accounting for the majority of chargers available: Tesla and Ionity. Among the operators that currently have more than 100 charging points of more than 100 kW in mainland France, we find Freshmile, Fastned, Electra, Engie, Totalenergies, Allego and of course Ionity and Tesla.

Font : Didier Toulouze on Twitter

Of the almost 4,000 charging points of more than 100 kW equipped with a Combo CCS cable in the territory, about 1,700 belong to Tesla, while the second player, Ionity, only has 570.. This clearly shows the difference between Tesla and the others, at least in terms of the number of terminals per station: there are 134 Tesla stations versus Ionity’s 120, for three times the number of terminals on Tesla.

However, as explained above, Ionity terminals and others have an undeniable advantage during long motorway trips: they are often located in service areas, which means you don’t waste time recharging.

What’s more, if until now the number of bollards per station was quite low, thus increasing the probability of not finding a free bollard in times of great transhumance, this is about to change. At the end of 2022, Ionity inaugurated a station with 16 terminalsY fastened did the sameproving that Tesla does not have a monopoly on very large charging stations.

A future where Tesla is no longer essential

In the world of fast charging, Tesla is no longer essential, even for owners of branded vehicles. In fact, many drivers now choose to recharge at Ionity, Fastned or Totalenergies as a priority in order totime and budget optimization.

Question Supercharge/Charge Rapid 👇

When traveling in an electric car, recently:
– prefer a non-Tesla charger to save travel time
– charged in a Tesla Supercharger after making a big detour or losing time

— Bob Jouy (@bobjouy) January 4, 2023

After numerous price changes in 2022, it’s sometimes more appropriate to charge outside of Tesla’s Superchargers, and this is even more true for owners of vehicles of other brands (who don’t benefit from the same rate as Tesla owners). , except to pay a monthly subscription).

However, the current jungle of top-up cards is still a Strong argument in favor of Teslathat allows an unparalleled charging experience for owners of brand vehicles: just plug in to start charging. What’s more, the integration of third-party charging stations into Tesla’s navigation is still imperfect, which doesn’t encourage the brand’s customers, in search of simplicity, to stop anywhere other than Superchargers.

When other players, such as Fastned, who have been implementing their Autocharge for many months, but also Ionity with Plug and Charge, manage to offer a similar charging experience, as well as demonstrate the reliability of your terminals in the public eyeTesla may no longer be the first choice for many owners.

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