Comparing Public Electric Car Charging Networks

EV charging infrastructure is expanding dramatically to meet demand. According to the latest U.S. Department of Energy data, more than 64,000 locations currently offer at least Level 2 EV charging nationwide, and more than 10,000 locations provide Level 3 DC fast charging.

The trouble is that the effort is not very centralized. Those 64,000 locations are spread across a myriad of private companies, and navigating that expanded infrastructure can be confusing.

There are great apps for that, like PlugShare and ChargeHub, which do an excellent job finding chargers and providing real-time data about speed and availability. But once you’ve arrived at the charger, you still need to pay for the electricity. And it can feel like you’re downloading a new app and setting up a new account every time you charge.

What’s the best EV charging provider to use? The answer is likely to be different for everyone. And the overriding factor will likely be which charger is located near your home or conveniently on the way to your destination. However, there are a few key differences among the major players you should know about.

ChargePoint_DC-Fast_NACS_Model-3_143-web

ChargePoint

ChargePoint is America’s largest EV charging network. The company offers more than 15,000 charging locations and more than 50,000 ports nationwide. Most ChargePoint locations are Level 2 chagers. However, the brand offers more than 2,000 DC fast charging locations nationwide, and the app efficiently filters out non-fast chargers.

Tesla Model X Supercharger

Tesla

Tesla offers two types of public chargers: Superchargers and slower (but more numerous) Destination chargers. More than 2,200 Supercharger stations exist nationwide, mostly along major highways and in urban areas, with more than 25,000 total charging ports. V3 and V4 Tesla Superchargers are limited to 250 kW, slower than the 350 kW available on other DC fast chargers.

Teslas can charge at Superchargers, and owners can plan optimal routes using Tesla’s trip-planning software without leaving the ecosystem. For non-Teslas, it’s more complicated. Tesla has Tesla chargers, which can only be used by Teslas and NACS chargers, which can (as of this writing) also be used by Ford and Rivian EVs with an adapter. Certain Tesla Supercharger stations offer “magic docks,” which are compatible with all CCS port EVs.

Electrify America Indoor DC Fast Charging Station San Francisco6

Electrify America

Volkswagen started the Electrify America network as part of its settlement for the Dieselgate scandal. Electrify America offers more than 900 locations and 4,000 charging ports across 47 states and Canada. Nearly all Electrify America charging ports are DC fast chargers providing 150 kW to 350 kW speeds.

Electrify America has partnerships with several major automakers, allowing owners to use a fixed amount or a fixed time limit of free fast charging when purchasing certain new electric vehicles.

Pilot Travel Centers LLC, General Motors and EVgo charging station

EVgo

EVgo has more than 1,000 locations and more than 2,600 Level 3 charging ports across 35 states. Stations are compatible with CCS plugs and Teslas which have a CCS adapter and offer between 50 and 350 kW of charging. EVgo has several corporate partnerships with brands like Amazon, Hertz, General Motors and Meijer.

Blink new EV DC Fast Charger with Dual-Port CCS and NACS Connectors

Blink Charging

Blink typically partners with municipalities and private businesses to provide EV charging. Blink merged with another rival Sema Connect to provide more than 3,500 charging ports nationwide. But nearly all of them are slower Level 2 chargers. The locations are open to CCS port vehicles and Teslas with an adapter. Blink does offer a membership (not necessary), which can reduce the rate at certain Blink chargers.

Shell recharge solutions

Shell Recharge

Royal Dutch Shell has been building a charging station network in America, buying out startups like Volta and Greenlots over the past few years. The company’s map currently shows more than 3,000 charge points across America. The majority appear to be lower speed Level 2 chargers.