A few weeks ago, I ran across a significant logistical challenge when planning a trip. I wanted to take my Bolt EUV (with only 200–250 miles of range) to Moab, and probably with a small trailer full of camping gear or an RV. Neither of those trailers ended up getting bought (more on that in an upcoming article), but before I ran into that problem I ran into a bigger obstacle: Moab’s only CCS charging station is deader than a doornail.
If I was just passing through, this wouldn’t have mattered too much. I would have had enough range to drive on through town or get back to Green River or Monticello. But I had bigger plans for the power from that CCS station. Instead of just using the power to get around, I wanted to pull a trickle of it from the car at camp for heat or AC, cooking, and other things. I might have even used it for a small water heater to get showered.
Looking at entries on PlugShare and talking to some other people who needed the station to be up, I heard that the local electric utility wasn’t planning on repairing the station at all.
I did have a Plan B: RV parks. With 50-amp service, an RV park could both give my camp the power I wanted and give me Level 2 charging while staying in town. But, I had planned on going during the Easter Jeep Safari, and basically every RV park was full. Even giving up on camping entirely and going with a hotel (Plan C) was ruined by a long list of “no vacancies” and “no rooms available for the dates you selected” online, even for hotels without any kind of charging option. Ouch!
For many families, the obvious answer is to leave the EV at home, burn gas to get to Moab, and use fossil fuels to power a campsite. But, the big plan is to get away from that and put everybody in an EV, right? So, the situation where a town only has one CCS plug and it goes down for good after a flood event isn’t going to cut it.
The good news is that the Infrastructure Bill provided the funds and Utah plans to add at least four more stations in Moab. The bad news is that those stations aren’t allowed to be a high priority. Federal law requires that the funds be spent expanding charging options along interstate highways first, and other highways second. The U.S. highway that passes through Moab is considered a main alternative fuel corridor, though, so I may be wrong about this assumption.
Either way, those four stations are likely to take at least a year or two to complete, leaving a popular tourist town (and a popular town for automotive news) with no CCS charging.
There’s a Quick Way To Solve This Problem in 2023
If you’re a Tesla driver, you might be thinking that I was dumb to not just buy a Tesla. Whether or not I’m dumb is probably debatable, but I wasn’t able to get one. Back in 2018, I bought a Nissan LEAF because there were no Model 3s to be had at any price and I needed a car. In 2022, the cheapest Tesla was tens of thousands of dollars outside of my price range (and the LEAF wasn’t taking care of my driving needs). I’m sure I’m not the only person who wanted an EV and found Tesla to be just out of reach.
Affordable or not, there’s no denying that Tesla’s charging network is far better than CCS and CHAdeMO in the United States. Tesla Superchargers covered most of the Interstate highways ages ago, and they’ve been in places like Moab for years. Not only that, but Tesla’s even built a second location in the town when the original four stalls were getting too busy. So (assuming you’re on a Tesla budget), Tesla’s network is the way to go in Moab.
The great news for us CCS peasants is that Tesla has a way to quickly fix this problem for us: Magic Dock. For those unfamiliar, Tesla’s installing built-in CCS charging adapters at some Supercharger sites. Poors like me (along with people who own more expensive CCS cars) can pull up to them, release the adapter with the Tesla app, and then use a Supercharger to charge our cars. Out of Spec Reviews has a great video showing how this all works:
What’s great about this is that it doesn’t require a long, expensive process. The Tesla station doesn’t need to be replaced or rewired to add this adapter setup. People have seen teams from Tesla show up at a Supercharger and have all of the stations upgraded to Magic Dock within hours. It doesn’t appear to require any permitting or utility work, either. This means that just about any existing Supercharger can get this upgrade quickly.
What isn’t 100% clear is what Tesla’s strategy is here. The more cynical people are saying that Tesla is only doing this to soak up government money, and that it can get paid for its Supercharger sites by governments only if it allows other EVs to get a charge. The more charitable commentators think Tesla is doing this to serve “the mission” (to accelerate the transition to clean energy). The truth probably lies somewhere in between, with Tesla having multiple motivations, and I personally think there’s nothing wrong with chasing dollars as long as you’re not cheating people.
In some cases, Tesla will want to prioritize adding Magic Dock to a site based on government incentives. In other cases, it may have other motivations. I really don’t know.
One Factor I Think Tesla Should Consider
My big point in writing this article is not only to encourage Tesla to do Magic Dock in Moab, but to encourage any Tesla people reading this to consider the gaps in the CCS network first (when possible). In a town where there’s an existing Electrify America or ChargePoint station with multiple stalls, adding CCS capability to the local Supercharger is still helpful, but not as helpful as it would be when Tesla does this in CCS deadzones.
Moab is just a great example of this. With the only CCS station permanently down, a Magic Dock installation would make a huge difference for CCS drivers. It might even impress them enough to make their next car a Tesla. There are many other places around the United States where Superchargers are the only DC fast charging stations around. In some cases (Willcox, Arizona, is a good example), they’re literally the only EV charging stations that aren’t RV park charging.
I know Tesla can’t make plugging CCS network gaps its first priority, but it sure would be good if the company could at least try to include plugging such gaps in its plans and do Magic Dock in those locations before doing it in places that already have great options for CCS drivers.
Featured image by CleanTechnica.
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