California’s I-5 and the Tesla Moat

It is Spring Break for our kids this week so we’re taking a short road trip to SoCal. Can’t use the B Class (we would get about an hour of driving for each 2+ hours of charging since it only supports level 2 AC charging), but that hasn’t stopped us paying attention to EVs and charging facilities.

Breakfast in Patterson

We left early and stopped for breakfast at Starbucks in Patterson. Next door to the Starbucks was a Best Western Hotel with 12 ports (six J1772 and six NEMA 520). Didn’t look like any were in use, but a couple of the posts had been ICEd 😞

Kettleman City

Our next break was Kettleman City where we had hoped to let the kids run around at Bravo Farms and then grab lunch. Unfortunately, the restaurant and play area were closed for Easter, and the other food places and the gas stations were packed.

No charging here for non-Tesla EVs, but there is a Tesla Supercharger with forty ports. Let that number sink in. I know of only one place in the Bay Area with that many charging points (Valley Fair mall), and they are level 2 AC ones (which totally makes sense for a shopping mall).

The I-5 Corridor

Seeing the number of ports in the supercharger location made me wonder what it would be like to drive down I-5 with something like a Jaguar I-Pace that has fast charging.

Here is the map that my ChargePoint app showed when set to filter for just DC fast chargers (CHAdeMO or Combo).

Notice that CA-99 is well served, but I-5, the main route between northern Cal and southern Cal has just three fast chargers. Worse still, they are all listed as no network (so no idea of status before you arrive) and CHAdeMO only, which wouldn’t work for the I-Pace.

Even level 2 AC chargers seem to be few and far between:

Again, CA-99 seems like it would be the better route to SoCal in an I-Pace (or even taking I-101). Although they are both further, there are at least fast charger locations along the route.

The Tesla Moat

I read something recently talking about the barriers to entry/market advantages that Tesla has over the many well established competitors now entering the EV space. Especially the luxury end of the market. The article called these moats, which is an apt description since they are protecting the business.

Some of the ones listed in the article were a little tenuous, but the supercharger network is one that is definitely a moat.

The ChargeHub map app shows the Tesla chargers here:

There are almost 100 ports shown along I-5 on that slice of the map (and over 100 if you include the ones just to the south of the map before the hills into LA).

That makes a drive to LA simple. The other manufacturers need to do something to boost the number of fast chargers along key routes like this, and soon.

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