Charging networks are just as strategic as battery suppliers. Everyone who isn’t Tesla needs to focus on build-out. What we have today is not acceptable to the vast majority of consumers.
Our Tesla, when it sits for a few days, can drop significant battery capacity, so when we pulled up to Mackinaw City, I wanted to be sure we had more than the 70 miles we had. I put into the Ford’s GPS the closest high-speed charger and navigated.
The filters available in the GPS are odd. Coming from Tesla’s SuperCharger network, I am used to clicking on the screen to select the EV station, its speed, and available stalls. You are given a series of numbers corresponding to the EV charger on the map on the Ford system. Until you click on it, there are not a ton of details. Not great UX.
He indicated this was his first EV and that he wasn’t sure if he was using the charger right, but it wasn’t working. I figured maybe, as a first time EV owner, he didn’t understand the process. Nope. He was right; the station wasn’t working.
Fawlty Towers of Chargers
The Rivian owner called and complained to ChargePoint and left. I sat there for a bit, hoping the system, now with only one EV plugged in, could provide some juice.
When the screen turned red and the charger indicated a fault. And then another fault.
I pulled out from one stall and moved to one a few spaces down.
Keep in mind that it would charge me for connecting every time I did this. I believe there were 10 dollars in fees for what amounted to a waste of time. At this point, I had something I hadn’t had in many years.
Sitting there with my family in the back, growing upset, I felt uneasy that maybe taking the F-150 Lightning on this first trip wasn’t a great idea. To be honest, I hadn’t done a ton of research into the charging networks up north other than validating there were stations.
With our Tesla, I just put in the route I want to take and let it deal with it.
Instead of catching the ferry, I felt we needed to get some charge before we left. I feared that if we didn’t have juice, we wouldn’t be able to get back to a functional highspeed charger. I put into the GPS the next nearest charger and double-backed 30 miles to Indian River.
EV networks we need to talk. If your charger cannot provide 125kw+ juice, please stop labelling it at high-speed. The station we were able to get back to provided us 50-70kw. We sat until we had 125 miles on the tank (~30 minutes) and headed back to the ferry.
I had a chance to compare BlueCruise to our 2019 Tesla M3, and they are similar in idea but different in execution. Given we only have the AutoPilot (not the FSD beta), they are identical in what each vehicle can provide.
BlueCruise does better than our Tesla in driving along the highway as the driver. I mean that changing lanes, braking, etc., are more manageable to transition between than the Tesla. You can tell that the Tesla was designed with complete autopilot in mind, so turning it off to switch lanes and back on is clunky.
I think Ford accepts that total autopilot will not happen for many years, so it was built with the driver being more involved with the lane switching, cruise, etc. I don’t think this is a bad thing. Ignoring Elon’s antics for a moment, it will likely be many years before Level 5 is a reality.
BlueCruise has the unfortunate issue that it ping pongs along the lane lines. You can tell it is compensating with going too far and then back. At highway speeds, it can be slight nausea-inducing. I have read a few reviews of the tech on other autos Ford produces, and no one mentioned it, so I am not sure if it is something wrong with my truck or if no one else has compared it to other platforms.
I want to quantify that these ping pong moments are not 100% of the time, but they are often enough that my wife, riding shotgun, asked what was wrong with the system a few times.
I shared my trip stats online on a few mediums, but given all the questions, I figured before I get started, I would consolidate the information here:
- Cargo for this trip was two adults, a toddler, a suitcase, and two bikes
- The weather is 4-22C (42F-72F)
- The average speed was 75mph, with no hotdogging
- The trip started with a 100% battery
You can see the trip profile (thanks to @ktamsPDX); it’s a bit of a grade. I will post the stats on the return also.