Charging Away From Home

In my last post I had mentioned my first, failed and at the time, only attempt at charging my car at a fast charging station. The way my day unfolded on this particular occasion, starting with my home charger failing to charge the car overnight, provided a ripe opportunity to face this challenge once again. Keep in mind this was still done out of curiosity rather than necessity, as my home is a mere 10 minute drive from this location.

Speaking of the home charger; this wasn’t the first time this had happened, and I’ll have more (but hopefully not too much more) on this in a later post.

Clear blue skies and a beautiful sunny day – an ideal scenario for a drive, and a charge.

After meeting my friend for lunch, I was at about a 45% charge at that moment. Feeling optimistic and perhaps even a bit restless to return to that same fast charging station, I also commanded a bolstered arsenal of knowledge and experience gained through 3 weeks of ownership. I sensed that more positive results would be yielded this time around. I am pleased to say that this was the case. Well, mostly.

My first attempt at charging quickly brought me up from a 38% charge to a 49% charge in about 5 and a half minutes, costing a whopping $1.85 CAD. For some reason, the session was automatically and abruptly ended at this moment. When retrying it on the same charging unit – it is one of two kiosks there – there was some error code indicating that the charging station had reached a heat threshold that would not allow it to continue. Yes, the charging station overheated.

Encouraging signs of progress this time around.

Determined to prove that this was not a “me” problem, but a “them” problem, I scooted over a few feet to the other kiosk to restart the process. This was immediately successful, and I brought the charge up another 11% to a nice and even 60%. This time I had manually ended the charging session at this point as opposed to it being automatically cut short, so I can’t necessarily confirm whether the first machine was malfunctioning or if experiences like this are par for the course.

What I can say with authority, is that the charging time was about the same at this kiosk, as was the cost; another 5:19 mins, costing $1.75 CAD, with an additional 11% of charge to boot.

Second time’s (and second kiosk’s) a charm.

Utilizing grade 4 math skills will suggest a hypothetical* charging cost of around $16.50 CAD if one were to charge from 0-100% at this particular station (Petro Canada) and this process would take ~50 mins. If you factor by the time taken to charge, this produces a rate of $0.33/min, which is clearly advertised on the station.

So in the real world, let’s say you barely made it to the station on the last bit of charge left in the car. It would cost you approximately $13 CAD to “fill up” to the “maximum” 80% and you’d have to wait 40 minutes for this to happen. These figures are specific to this station, and based on my brief research on charging options around the world, this would be considered by all accounts “average” as it pertains to fast chargers.

From my understanding, outside of Tesla, there are no stations that officially make use of the “Supercharger” nomenclature for any of their networks. Rather, at the moment, there are a variety of different fast charging stations from different companies, which all charge at different speeds and at different costs. Some are advertised as being faster or at the same level as said Tesla Superchargers, and one such outfit claims its technology can charge a Taycan up to 80% range in just 15 minutes – almost 3 times as fast as the charger I used today.

I still have yet to locate or become aware of the supercharger equivalent for my car, if there is such a thing in my vicinity. Maybe someone local can chime in, but for now I suspect I’m currently in a bit of an echo chamber being one of a handful of Taycans in the city.

To answer the big question: Yes. It will be noticeably cheaper to charge your car with electricity than it will be to fill with gas, ceteris paribus. Just be sure to factor in more time out of your day, if you want to do it the electric way.

*Superchargers and most fast chargers only allow you to charge up to 80% capacity, as a safety measure. The chargers that do allow above 80% will charge much more slowly after reaching this threshold.

TESLA vs. the Rest of Us

Near the Petro Canada charging station, I drove past a row of 8 Tesla charging kiosks at a mall parking lot just on the outskirts of the city limits. I quickly found out this was actually one of Tesla’s prized Supercharger stations. More on that below.

Prior to my trip today, I was made aware that there is an adapter available for purchase that would allow the Taycan to charge at Tesla stations. So, I felt that checking out this station would be relevant to my research and decided to do some more investigating. So I parked in a spot at the station and took a photo of the plug for future reference.

I later found out that Tesla Superchargers are completely proprietary, and that the adapter would only work on various types of Tesla fast chargers – the part of the network that is considered a level down from the Superchargers. I understand that Tesla owners who also own other makes of EVs, charge the latter in conjunction with the adapter using the at-home Tesla charger.

Anyway…. the mall wasn’t busy, and there were no other stalls being used. I decided I would make a quick trip into the mall for a coffee and a stroll.

Tesla’s Superchargers remain proprietary; a result due in large part to the plug type at such stations.

When I returned to my car, I had company waiting. I was greeted with modest, but obvious levels of hostility from someone who was clearly a hired hand tasked to provide such a reception for those trespassing on Tesla’s sacred real estate. I do not recall if he was contracted by the mall, or directly by Tesla to provide this service, but he most certainly had the latter’s best interests at heart. Either way, someone is getting paid for the sole purpose of patrolling and guarding Tesla Superchargers from vagrants. This is probably consistent across the globe.

If the vast Tesla charging network is considered a treasure to its owners, then the Superchargers would definitely be their holy grail. Not even a mall in the middle of farmland, outside a modest city in the Canadian prairies is exempt from this doctrine.

I accept that this scenario is not much different than walking into a local sports bar donning the rival team’s jersey. While doing so does not circumvent any meaningful laws or technically infringe on anyone’s rights, it surely does break a few unwritten rules – or at best, some loosely written ones – which ultimately opens the door for anyone who feels compelled enough to digress. To be fair,  the attendant’s tone and choice of words were not too far off the banter you’d expect to receive entering an environment like this. Fair play.

The photo-op itself, was both irresistible and well worth it.

This experience certainly made for some good content to share in T’s Corner, and spurred me on to gain more insight into the world of EVs that exists beyond the lens of a Taycan. So I hopped onto other EV forums to see what they were like.

For one – unless this type of incident is completely isolated, which I doubt is the case – it doesn’t appear to me that EV owners are in any way, a united front. This sentiment is certainly fueled (no pun intended) by the manufacturers and companies themselves, which then trickles down to the consumers who ultimately enact this culture.

The cause that is as all-encompassing as saving the planet was something I naively envisioned having a more altruistic ecosystem, ultimately transcending the need for tribalism or elitism. I suspect that “concerns for the environment” are not the primary motivating factor behind most EV purchases, particularly Teslas. Or maybe I’m just overreacting to the reprimand I received for parking somewhere I wasn’t supposed to.

At the end of the day I encroached on hostile territory, and I am not absolving myself any responsibility for that. I just want to point out that it is my opinion that if you’re not already driving one yourself, don’t expect a thumbs up or ‘the nod’ from Tesla owners. Especially if you drive an EV that isn’t a Tesla.

I realize that my encounter today was not with a Tesla owner, but I can only imagine some of them having a superiority complex, knowing that their Superchargers are policed for them. Further to that that, Tesla goes to great lengths in having their customer base believe that they are doing the world a favor by owning one. I can barely blame them for being that way, if that’s true. It’s really good marketing on Tesla’s part, and it definitely sells cars.

I also doubt that this experience is exclusive to Superchargers. I should probably expect the same treatment (more likely with a Tesla owner, than with an attendant) if this encounter were to occur at a level 2 charger – the kind that actually works with the aforementioned adapter. I’ll still probably give it a try because, why not, right?

-T