Ford F-150 Lightning Race Pits Tesla’s Superchargers Against Electrify America

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Recently, Tom Moloughney and Kyle Conner took two Ford Trucks from New Jersey to Florida to see who would get there first. But there’s a catch: One had to rely on Electrify America stations and the other had to rely on Tesla’s Supercharger network. In most ways, this gives a pretty fair comparison between the networks, as both trucks are the same, with the same charging speeds and the same charging curves. They also limited speeds to 10 MPH over the speed limit to make it even more fair.

Let’s take a look at the video and then discuss what happened and what we can learn from it! (article continues after embedded video)

 

The race started out sucky, with some rain that would affect range, but it’s something that both trucks would have to deal with. Under ideal conditions, Tom predicted that it would take four charging stops, but he prepared to be able to do a fifth one just in case. Another small thing they did was use the power of the truck to cook some pizzas along the way. Even with that extra draw, they were getting 1.8-1.9 miles/kWh.

They stopped for the first time in Stafford, Virginia, with 4% left. This put him 26 miles ahead of Kyle and his dad. Some people were really nice and switched spots with him to give him the fastest 350 kW station, which really helped him. 

The second stop was at a Sheetz station in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He managed to get a 350 kW station again, which was lucky, because the other 350 kW station was down. At this point, the other truck was behind them, and would likely pass them while they charged, but they were getting a good charge and would likely manage to catch up and pass the Conners again. 

Stop #3 was at a Walmart in Florence, North Carolina. He managed to snag another working 350 kW charger, so his luck continued. He was ahead of the other truck by 30 miles, but Kyle would soon be stopping, so they were still neck-and-neck at that point, too. So, if anyone had a hiccup, they’d lose.

That hiccup came not long later, with Kyle’s truck running out of juice just short of the charger. They managed to push it into the Supercharger station and start getting a charge, but it didn’t set them back by that much. A weak cell in the battery or a BMS error shut the vehicle down with supposedly two miles of range remaining.

The fourth stop ended up being in Walterboro, South Carolina. This one was running well at all four stalls, and getting a 350 kW station wasn’t an issue, so they managed to stay ahead. Again, they were stopped and passed by the Conners, but they still had almost 30% when they had stopped, so they didn’t need too much time to get back to 80% again. His policy of charging more than needed instead of leaving early seemed to be panning out.

The final stop in Brunswick, Georgia (another Walmart), worked out well, too. The charger wasn’t crowded, so he was able to get a 350 again. Instead of charging to 80% this time, he decided to stop earlier and just get enough juice to get to the finish line. But, the EA site was several miles off the highway, which cost them some minutes.

The final stop was some new Mercedes-Benz chargers in the city right next to some Superchargers (the Speedway had an event going on). When they arrived, they found the Conners there waiting for them, but they had only been there for about six minutes. Struggles with finding the charger was only 3 minutes, so they still won regardless, even if only by a handful of minutes.

Interestingly enough, the extra time driving to the highway to an EA charger and back to the highway was what sunk them (Superchargers were nearly all close to the interstate). Both teams agreed that the trucks were excellent, and even if there was a lot of charging time. 

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How Did EA Basically Tie With Superchargers? Don’t They Suck?

While Electrify America sucked pretty bad in many places in 2022 and 2023, the company has been putting in a lot of time to improve in recent months. It finally got a supply of new power modules for many older stations that had been struggling and even damaging a few vehicles, and this seems to be paying off. Other things, like more proactive monitoring and maintenance and upgrading to latest-gen chargers has also been helping in other areas.

It also didn’t hurt that much of the driving happened at night, when traffic was low and it was easier to find open stations on the Electrify America network. But that’s a problem that will be alleviated both by continued CCS network expansion and by access to the Supercharger network for many EVs, so this might actually be a fair comparison for 2024.

All in all, this shows us how much charging of every kind has improved!

Stay Tuned For An Even Better Race That Gives An Even Better Comparison

Unfortunately, there are some things this race doesn’t tell us, including what would happen if a truck were used that could pull the maximum 350 kW of power from the Electrify America stations and another truck with faster charging at Tesla stations were to go head to head. This race tells us about reliability without testing all strengths of both networks against each other.

Fortunately, a number of popular EV guys from YouTube (including Conner) took a trip across the United States in four electric trucks to see whose truck would get across the South and Southwest first. The Cybertruck, of course, would rely on Tesla’s Superchargers. The F-150 Lightning was able to play on either team, either natively at Electrify America or at Superchargers via an adapter. But at the time of the race, the Rivian and the Chevy Silverado EV were stuck with CCS networks only.

You might think that the Cybertruck and/or Ford would win hands down, but the Silverado’s massive battery pack and 350 kW peak charging  is a force to be reckoned with. By taking full advantage of the greater speeds theoretically available at many EA stations, the result was far from predictable at the beginning.

That video should be coming out soon, so we’ll cover that one in another article soon!

Featured image provided by Ford.


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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba