Last year, global engineering firm umlaut, which performs benchmarks in various industries, adapted its testing prowess to the United States’ electric vehicle market to determine which public charging network was the best in the country. The effort, which was dubbed as the inaugural 2020 USA EV Charging Infrastructure Benchmark, determined that Electrify America was by far the best public charging network in the United States.
But while the inaugural USA EV Charging Infrastructure Benchmark was notable, there was a popular network that was not included in umlaut’s first analysis: the ubiquitous Tesla Supercharger Network, which is very prevalent but not open to the public like Electrify America. This was why in this year’s USA EV Charging Infrastructure Benchmark, the global engineering firm made it a point to include the Supercharger Network in its study, even if the system had to be scored quite differently due to it being specifically designed for Tesla’s electric cars.
For the 2021 USA EV Charging Infrastructure Benchmark, umlaut performed a comparative study of the country’s fast-charging networks and rated each one using several criteria, specifically: interoperability, pricing, transparency, functionality, and availability, among others. A Tesla Model 3 and a Ford Mustang Mach-E were selected as the vehicles that would used for the study. The EV pair covered 2,100 miles over six days to test charging stations across Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
To rank the different charging networks, umlaut opted to split its analysis into two areas: the “Digital Platform,” which includes a service’s website and mobile app, and the “Charging Location,” which includes ease of payment, amenities, and the technical performance of the system itself. The results, interestingly enough, revealed that Electrify America was still the overall winner with 702 points due to its balanced scores in the “Digital Platform” and “Charging Location” categories.
Tesla’s Supercharger Network was a second with an overall score of 649. This was quite interesting as Superchargers completely dominated the “Charging Location” metric, earning a perfect score in “Technical Performance” and high scores in the “Access and Payment” subcategories, among others. However, the Supercharger Network lost points in the “Digital Platform” category since Tesla’s website and mobile app were not as useful as those of other networks. This was, of course, partly due to the fact that Tesla’s Supercharger sessions were already integrated into the company’s vehicles themselves.
Despite the challenges presented by the Supercharger Network in this year’s 2021 USA EV Charging Infrastructure Benchmark, umlaut’s Christian Sussbauer noted that Tesla’s charging systems excel in numerous key areas.
“We had a lot of internal discussions about including Tesla Superchargers in this year’s Benchmark because we really want to create a testing system that will capture the right metrics and provide the most useful information to the EV industry. To be honest, if you asked me before we conducted the tests, I think I would have predicted that Tesla Superchargers would end up leading in total points because it’s well known that they do a great job in many aspects of fast charging. And actually, our test results show this clearly—Superchargers excel in many important areas. It’s actually a little boring to test Supercharger stations because you just plug them in, and they reliably work.”
“We were happy to find a very high level of simplicity and reliability with Electrify America this year as well. Using an EV with Plug & Charge enabled on Electrify America’s network was a very good user experience. All of the EV industry should strive to replicate that aspect of Superchargers and Electrify America/Plug & Charge. And in the end, Electrify America also has a very useful smartphone app and website that combined to put them over the top in terms of total points scored for the metrics we were measuring in 2021,” Sussbauer said.
Watch a video about the 2021 USA EV Charging Infrastructure Benchmark below.
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