Supercharging Non-Teslas Without Being An EV-Hole

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

When I first heard that Ford had released adapters and opened access to the Supercharger network, I noticed some people getting angry about that. Supercharger stations have long been designed to reach the port at the rear-driver side of the vehicle, and everyone is expected to back in to get it all lined up. The uniform nature of this meant shorter cables were needed and everything worked out fine. But when the barbarians showed up in F-150 Lightnings and Mach-Es with the charging port in a different spot, this created a possible issue.

To get the plug close enough to the dispenser for the cable to reach, Ford vehicles (and since then, Rivians) have had to park in the next spot. This works out fine for the Ford or Rivian driver, but if a Tesla driver shows up, they can’t charge up. If a station is full, this means that at least one person can’t charge, and possibly more.

Tesla obviously doesn’t care too much if there are some issues with this, as the other automakers all paid a handsome sum (billions in all) for access. This money will be used to upgrade chargers to V4 (with longer cables), build new Supercharger stations, and add more stalls to existing stations. But, in the short run, Tesla drivers at the busiest stations will suffer some inconvenience.

Being a generally polite person, I decided to look into some possible ways to alleviate the problem. It turns out, I’m not the only person who thinks this way, and other people have been experimenting with this, too. Here’s one possible solution a Rivian driver came up with:

Obviously, not every EV can do this without scraping or something. So, pulling over a curb to get into a position to not block a stall for others isn’t a solution for every driver. I asked some friends online, and got this batch of photos that show some other methods:

As you can see, finding a spot with some extra space to the side is often key to charging in the most polite way when the station is busy or may soon become busy. At my local Supercharger, I found a spot kind of like this across from the others.

This is a “charge last” spot, so if the others aren’t all taken up, you’d want to pull to the side like I did to leave a space open for a disabled person to use it. If they have an EV, you might have to unplug for them. This technically still means taking up two spots, but the whole row of chargers across the way is kept 100% open for other drivers. The next spot would have worked out well, too.

Here’s what it looks like across the way if I charge in a spot in the other row:

Sadly, there wasn’t quite enough cable to charge in the “right” space without backing in over the curb, and there was a pretty good dropoff there instead of a sidewalk or fill dirt, so the Bolt would have likely got hung up. So, the only other solution would be to take up the two spaces anyway.

But, in reality, this probably doesn’t matter that much because I was literally in the only car at the whole station with all of its stalls. I could have found a way to take up 3 or 5 stalls (had I brought a trailer along) and it wouldn’t have inconvenienced anybody in any kind of car.

But, if the stations had come with about another 2 feet of cable, I could have backed in like a Tesla and charged up, as these stations are situated between the spaces.

With my Bolt, there’s another good solution just up the street that’s about to open:

After all, the most power I can pull is about 55 kW, so these 62 kW stations will be just as good as a Supercharger to me. If I was coming in along the highway from out of town and found the Supercharger station full or near full, these would probably still be empty and only another half mile from the exit.

I know many people who own a Bolt or another EV that isn’t a Tesla are just itching to use the Superchargers, with some even saying that all of the other networks are dead to them (that’s a bit hyperbolic, but it’s social media, so that’s normal). But I’d personally like to support these other networks and keep them around to prevent a monopoly from forming. So, I’m probably going to make Superchargers a “Plan B” in most places, or use them if there’s nothing else in an area at all.

But, if you’re in my shoes, you might feel differently and really want to use Superchargers all the time to feel good or something. So, let’s talk some more about the issue.

Are There Any Cheap Fixes To This?

In the long run, we’ll probably see V4 chargers everywhere and this won’t matter. In the meantime, another post I came across shows us that there might be another temporary solution afoot:

This under-construction station in Ozona, Texas, has some stations situated at the center of spaces and others straddling the line between spaces as usual. This raises an obvious question: can some of the stations out there be made more workable for different EVs by simply moving some of the stripes around? With just some black paint or tar and some white paint, some Supercharger stations out there could be redone to put the stalls at the center of more spaces, making for less conflict when they’re busy.

Obviously, painting some stripes or parking over the edge of curbs isn’t the answer for the long run. So, we need to think about other things like extension cables (which would be expensive!), putting longer cables on the V3 chargers, or even putting some longer cables on just a few of the stalls at each station for now like they did with the Magic Dock stations. I’d never skin a cat, but I hear there’s more than one way to do that should I ever change my mind.

But, what I’m really hoping to see is so much expansion of charging opportunities — both at Supercharger stations and elsewhere — that we don’t see much conflict. A station with spare capacity is probably the best outcome!

All images (except those in embedded Tweets) by Jennifer Sensiba.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Video

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

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