EV charging infrastructure was one of the biggest obstacles to the mass adoption of EVs. But, of late, charging networks have greatly improved the charging infrastructure in the US.
Now that charging your EV across the country is feasible and long road trips are no longer scary, charging networks are kicking off a charging speed arms race. All the major charging networks offer fast charging, but which one is king?
Tesla Supercharger Network
Tesla is the current king of performance electric vehicles, offering some of the best performance electric cars on the market, and has earned that place at the top by constantly innovating and offering better products than the competition.
The Supercharger network is one of the most comprehensive electric charging networks in the world, and if you own a Tesla vehicle, you don’t need to look anywhere else to charge your car.
Charging your Tesla EV with a Supercharger is easy and works perfectly with your vehicle. The ecosystem that Tesla has built around its electric cars is very reminiscent of what Apple has been able to achieve with its range of products.
The Supercharger network also offers fast charging rates, with 250 kW available as the maximum rate. According to Tesla’s Supercharger siteYou can get up to 200 miles of driving range back by charging for a measly 15 minutes.
The good thing is that your Tesla will automatically precondition the battery if you navigate to a supercharger to make charging even faster. 250 kW is definitely impressive, but it doesn’t take top honors because even faster charging solutions exist.
Red Electrify America
Electrify America is Volkswagen’s Supercharger competitor and partners with tons of car manufacturers to bring free charging to customers. Electrify America’s free charging incentive provides a great reason to buy an EV right now, and it’s probably winning over a lot of potential customers who might have been undecided. In terms of overall charging speed, the Electrify America network offers blazing charging rates of up to 350 kW.
Of course, it’s important to note that your EV must be compatible with these incredible charging rates. Otherwise, your actual rate will be capped at what your electric car can accept. Regardless, if you have a vehicle that can take advantage of the full charge rate offered by Electrify America, you’ll be able to charge your EV in no time.
One of the best free charging plans available today is offered by Hyundai with Electrify America for its IONIQ 5 EV. This incentive includes two years of free charging as long as the sessions do not exceed 30 minutes.
This is one of the biggest advantages that separates Electrify America from the competition: Their partnerships are broad and generous. Buying a new electric vehicle and recharging its battery for free is a huge win.
This is especially helpful due to the incredible upload speeds that Electrify America offers, as well as the fact that the network is growing every day. If you’re constantly on the road, buying a vehicle with an Electrify America charging bonus can be a great investment.
ChargePoint sells its charging stations to companies, so these private buyers are essential to the growth of the network. This business model is interesting and allows the network to grow at a rapid pace.
ChargePoint also makes home chargers for EV owners who want an L2 solution for their home. In terms of charge rate, ChargePoint offers chargers that can deliver power from 125kW up to 350kW.
Investing in a ChargePoint station could be a great option if you are a business owner and want to stay ahead of the curve. This is especially true if you want to diversify your customer base. Companies like ChargePoint could accelerate charging station adoption in more isolated areas faster than larger networks like Electrify America.
EVgo offers charging stations that can charge your EV at a rate of 50kW on the low end and a whopping 350kW on the high end. This is definitely ultra-fast, though the number of EVs that can take advantage of these ridiculous charging speeds is pretty limited at the moment.
The incredible Lucid Air EV is among a select few EVs that can come close to taking advantage of the full 350kW fee. This shouldn’t be a problem though, as it’s all but guaranteed that more and more automakers will continue to fit faster charging capabilities into future electric vehicles.
It seems that most EV charging networks offer 350kW solutions for their customers, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes for Tesla to offer a faster charging option to its customer base.
Volta is one of the most innovative charging networks out there, with charging stations that double as giant screens displaying advertisements. Volta offers L2 and L3 charging solutions. However, don’t expect blazing charging speeds if you’re looking to quickly charge your EV at a Volta station. According to Volta’s FAQ page, their L3 chargers aren’t exactly the fastest.
DC fast charging speed: 50-60 kWh, or up to 210 miles of range per hour, depending on your electric vehicle.
Speeds like this don’t really compare to the other charging networks, but Volta offers a unique business model, and you might even be lucky enough to find a free L3 Volta charger if you spend enough time in the app.
With Volta, their game isn’t about delivering the fastest speeds, especially when they offer free L2 charging, which is a huge selling point for their ad business. Imagine going shopping and being able to leave your vehicle charging with an L2 Volta charger while you walk through the mall. What does Volta want in return? You just stare at some of the ads pasted on their digital billboard.
This definitely seems like a fair tradeoff; the only concern is how sustainable this business model ultimately turns out to be. In an ideal world, Volta would make all of its L3 loaders free to use, but this doesn’t seem sustainable with its current ad revenue scheme.
Which EV charging network is the fastest?
Most of the charging networks on this list offer DC fast charging up to 350 kW, with the notable exceptions of Tesla and Volta. So in terms of raw speed, the competition has beaten Tesla.
But, according to US Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center site., Tesla has 1,585 DC fast charging station locations and 16,785 electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) ports. When you compare this to Electrify America with its 822 locations and 3,576 ports, you’ll quickly realize just how vast Tesla’s network is.
ChargePoint is also far behind, with 1,781 locations and 1,781 EVSE charging ports. So while some competitors offer faster charging rates, Tesla makes up for it by providing its customer base with a large number of DC fast chargers.
Fast charging is more important than ever
Charging an EV quickly is a high priority for many people, especially if your job depends on constant road travel. The charging networks know this, and the competition is heating up in terms of who can offer the fastest charging rates. At the moment, the only limiting factor is the vehicles themselves, but once this is overcome, ultra-fast charging should be commonplace.