Following up on an analysis we published previously, a recent real-world DC charging test by Bjørn Nyland clearly shows the Tesla Model 3’s significant charging advantage over the Audi e-tron. Even on a CCS charger, which doesn’t take full advantage of the Tesla’s potential, the Model 3 performs much better. The Tesla Model 3 Long Range adds 179 miles (288 km) of highway range in 20 minutes, 61% more than the Audi e-tron’s 111 miles (179 km). Let’s see the chart.
You can find a metric version of this chart at the foot of the article.
Let’s be clear — the Audi e-tron is a fine vehicle, and can provide comfortable long highway journeys if you don’t mind taking a 30 minute break every couple of hours. It will comfortably do 180 miles from home (starting from full) before finding a charger, and then settle down into covering additional legs of 150 miles (2+ hours of highway speed driving) for every 30 minute rest and charge break. For anyone but the most hardcore road trippers, that’s a pretty normal pattern, especially if you have kids or pets on board. The issue is that Audi has tried to claim that its e-tron has better charging than Tesla’s vehicles, and that’s grossly inaccurate. We’ve dug into this previously, but now we have more real-world data, thanks to Bjorn’s recent testing.
It’s clear from the above graph that — even putting the far greater overall range of the Tesla Model 3 to one side — the Audi e-tron is miles behind the Tesla on practical DC charging ability. This result is on optimal (and currently not very common) 350 kW CCS hardware that puts the Audi in its best light. The Tesla Model 3, on the other hand, is not quite at its best on these CCS chargers (capped at 500 Amps) — its performance on Supercharger V3 stalls is better still.
Audi will want to point out that its e-tron maintains high-power charging (in kW terms) for longer than the Tesla, and a head-to-head would look less crushing on a 30 minute or 40 minute charging session. But the Tesla driver can be long gone by that point. The Audi can never come close to the Tesla on miles of range added over any given period of time. This is what matters most on a mid-trip fast charging break. Here’s a table of the highway miles-added performance of the two vehicles over a wider range of charing durations:
Like the earlier graph, the table is calibrated in the closest-to-reality EPA-rated highway range. In terms of relative performance, the Tesla is optimised for making great use of fast 10–15 minute charge breaks, and the Audi is optimised for expected 25–30 minute (or longer) charges. Even on such longer charges, the table data clearly show that the Audi still can’t nearly catch up with the Tesla.
Put differently, the Tesla can drive for ~2 hours at highway speeds for each 15 minutes of charging (8:1 ratio), whereas the Audi can drive for ~2 hours for each 30 minutes of charging (4:1 ratio). That’s a significant advantage for the Tesla. As I’ve mentioned previously, the early high charge rate of the Tesla is a smart strategy. Many drivers will only need a short top-up to reach the end point of their journey, such that 5 or 10 minutes will be sufficient in many cases. Serving these customers plenty of energy quickly is both more convenient for them and for other customers, as it allows the infrastructure to serve many more people in a given period of time.
We don’t yet have charging data for the current Tesla Model S and X vehicles (I’ll bring you charts as soon as we have it), but it’s clear that they also greatly outperform the Audi e-tron.
All of these EVs are great vehicles, giving owners a much better driving experience and much better value than any fossil fuel vehicle counterparts, and — along with many of the other 200+ mile EVs on the market today — can comfortably make longer journeys in the many regions of the world with good infrastructure. The Teslas do nevertheless have a significant practical-charging advantage over the EV competition for a number of reasons. They have much higher power charging capability, and they are more efficient (in some cases significantly more efficient) at using a given amount of energy than other EVs. The Tesla Model 3, for example, is the world’s most efficient EV at highway speeds, fractionally more efficient (123 vs 122 MGPe) even than the smaller and lighter (and much lower powered) Hyundai Ioniq.
Tesla’s final practical-charging advantage comes from having the most widespread DC fast charging network, the Tesla Supercharger network. This is more widespread and more user-friendly than other public DC charging networks (plug-and-charge, accessible 24/7, more reliable, and broadcasts the number of open stalls before you even arrive). To top it all off, most of Tesla’s vehicles in Europe can also use all the other public DC charging networks (see Bjørn’s other recent tests of CCS and CHAdeMO adapters).
Tesla has hinted that US models will also be able to take advantage of other charging standards, via adapters or otherwise, in the future (the CHAdeMO network in the US is already available to the Tesla Model S and Model X via an adapter). Tesla’s Chinese-market vehicles can already use both the Supercharger network and the local GBT-standard networks.
In practical terms, Tesla EVs’ overall DC charging capability puts them at a significant advantage over the Audi e-tron. The Audi is a fine EV whose owners are no doubt delighted with it, but it was foolish and misleading of Audi managers to try to argue that the e-tron has any kind of DC charging advantage over Tesla’s vehicles. Perhaps they will think twice before making such claims in the future and double check their math. Better to put a bit more energy and focus into improving the efficiency of their EVs, and try to close the gap with Tesla that way.
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