The biggest advantage for Tesla, over its electric vehicle rivals, is its Supercharger network. The vast network of fast chargers allows Tesla customers to quickly, easily, and consistently find chargers to charge their EVs up at the fastest speeds available. Not only are Superchargers more readily available than any other charger but they’re also the most intuitive to use; simply plug the car in and walk away. To combat the Supercharger network in the U.S., Volkswagen helped fun the Electrify America network. While a great idea, the implementation of this network hasn’t been as successful as VW likely would have hoped.
If you own any electric car that isn’t a Tesla, you can use the Electrify America network. To be fair, it does work well enough and, even though its network isn’t as vast as Tesla’s, it is growing quickly and will soon reach the size of the Supercharger network. However, the problem with Electrify America lies not in its size but in its implementation. At least for VW and Audi products.
Let’s take a look at the newly released Volkswagen ID.4, a car on which the new Audi Q4 e-tron will be based. During a recent review from Engineering Explained, he showed how much more complicated it is to plug an ID.4 into an Electrify America charger, which is a charger developed by its own brand, than it is to charge a Tesla at a Supercharger.
With a Tesla, you simply plug the car in and it begins charging. With the ID.4, you have to plug-it in, get your phone out, use the Electrify America app to find the exact charger you’re using on the map, click on that charger, then choose which of the cables that you’re using on that charger, swipe to confirm and then it begins charging. Does all of that only take a few seconds? Yes, of course. It’s not hard. However, it is more complicated than any other EV and if brands want to convince typical car customers to switch to EVs, the experience needs to be easier than their current refueling experience.
What’s odd is that the Ford Mustang Mach E can use the Electrify America network as well and it works the same way Telsas work; simply plug-in and walk away. So the problem isn’t necessarily the network or charger but with the software implementation by Volkswagen.
So if Volkswagen wants to sell the ID.4 properly, it’s going to need to do some software patches to fix that and if Audi wants the Q4 e-tron (or any other future EV) to sell, it’s going to need to fix this before the car even goes on sale.