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Tesla Supercharger station review, compared to Chevy Bolt charging

Tesla Supercharger station review, compared to Chevy Bolt charging

Tesla Model 3

A Tesla Supercharger station.
Mark Matousek/Business Insider


Two of the biggest obstacles holding back the growth of electric-vehicle sales are the speed and availability of charging stations.

While, in most instances, EV owners can charge their vehicles at home, longer trips can require a stop at a charging station. Finding a charging station was the biggest problem I experienced when driving the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Nissan Leaf last year. On multiple occasions, I was unable to find a station I had navigated to, and in one case, the one I found allowed for charging at only very slow speeds.

That changed when I tested a Tesla Model 3 in September. Tesla’s Supercharger network made charging faster and easier than I’d experienced before.

Here’s what it was like and how it compared with my experiences with the Bolt and Leaf.

Are you a current or former Tesla employee? Do you have an opinion about what it’s like to work there? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com. You can ask for more secure methods of communication, like Signal or ProtonMail, by email or Twitter direct message.

My first experience with electric-vehicle chargers came when I drove the Chevrolet Bolt EV last year.

chevy bolt

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Mark Matousek / Business Insider


I used Apple CarPlay to find nearby charging stations, and it appeared I had a decent number of options. But things went downhill from there.

chevy bolt


Mark Matousek / Business Insider


It took about two hours to find a charging station that worked and had an opening.

chevy bolt

A ChargePoint charging station.
Mark Matousek / Business Insider


But the charger at the station I found could add only around 25 miles of range per hour.

chevy bolt

Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Mark Matousek / Business Insider


I would have had to wait at least three hours to add a significant amount of range, and nine hours for a full charge.

I also had difficulty finding a charging station when I drove the Nissan Leaf a few months later.

2018 Nissan Leaf

2018 Nissan Leaf.
Mark Matousek/Business Insider


The Leaf’s navigation system had a feature that displayed and provided directions to nearby charging stations, but it was ineffective.

2018 Nissan Leaf

2018 Nissan Leaf.
Mark Matousek/Business Insider


My first attempt at using it directed me to a Nissan dealership that appeared to no longer exist, and my second attempt led me to a large multistory indoor parking garage without giving me any indication of where the charger was.

I eventually gave up and turned to Google Maps, which led me to an easily accessible charging station without any difficulty.

2018 Nissan Leaf


Mark Matousek/Business Insider


The next day, I began using the ChargeHub app, which allows you to search for nearby charging stations and locate them on a map.

ChargeHub

The ChargeHub app.
ChargeHub


The app also tells you the number of plugs at each station, where the plugs are, the shape of each plug, how quickly it can charge your car, and how much it costs to charge. The app was far more effective than any other method I’d previously used to find charging stations. 

But finding and using a charging station was much easier with the Model 3.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3.
Mark Matousek/Business Insider


Tesla’s Supercharger stations were easy to find using the Model 3’s navigation system.

The station I chose was tucked into the corner of a strip-mall parking lot, but the distinctive appearance of Tesla’s charging stalls made them easy to spot.

Tesla Model 3

A Tesla Supercharger station.
Mark Matousek/Business Insider


One small disadvantage this time was the fact that I had to back into my spot because the Model 3’s charge port is near the trunk, and the charging station’s cables weren’t very long.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3.
Mark Matousek/Business Insider


I used the touch screen to open the charge port.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3.
Mark Matousek/Business Insider


Tesla automatically charges the owner’s credit card for charging sessions — no need to pay at the station.

Tesla Model 3

A Tesla Supercharger stall.
Mark Matousek/Business Insider


All I had to do was grab the cable …

Tesla Model 3

A Tesla Supercharger cable.
Mark Matousek/Business Insider


Once it started charging, I could monitor its progress on the touch screen.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3.
Mark Matousek/Business Insider


Get the latest Tesla stock price here.

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