A YouTuber's 1,000-mile road trip pitting gas cars against electric ones highlights a major edge Tesla has over other plug-ins
- YouTuber Marques Brownlee set out to see if an EV or a gas car is the better road-trip vehicle.
- His team took two EVs and a conventional SUV on a 1,000-mile journey.
Ford Mustang Mach-Ehit broken charging stations, while the Teslasailed through Superchargers.
The 1,000-mile test exposed how much time charging an EV adds to a long journey. But it also highlighted a major edge Tesla has over other companies building battery-powered vehicles.
Brownlee and his team got three vehicles for a two-day road trip around New York State: a gas-fueled Audi Q5, a Tesla Model S Plaid, and a Mustang Mach-E, Ford's electric SUV. They all started from the same point with a full tank or battery. The goal was to compare how long it took each vehicle to make the trip.
As expected, the Audi fared best, finishing in 18 hours and 39 minutes. It can travel much farther on a full tank than either of the EVs can on a full battery, and it took just a few minutes to fuel up. The Tesla took only about an hour and a half longer, while the Mach-E was on the road for an extra six and a half hours.
Why the massive gap between the Tesla and the Ford? It wasn't what you'd expect.
Tesla's advantage in charging infrastructure has been well documented. The company has spent years building out a massive, proprietary charging network that comprises more than 1,100 extra-fast Supercharger stations in the US and thousands more slower plugs.
But it wasn't the quantity of public chargers that did the Mach-E drivers in. It was their quality. They didn't have trouble finding plugs. They had trouble finding ones that worked.
Brownlee said Ford's navigation system twice routed the Mach-E to charging plugs that were broken or offline for maintenance on the first day, so the team had to drive out of the way and spend extra hours on the road.
Although the FordPass app and network aim to make finding chargers and plugging in more seamless - and in my experience, they do - there are evidently downsides to relying on outside providers for all-important charging. Brownlee suspected that there's a bit of a delay between when a charger goes offline and when that information is relayed to Ford's navigation system and mobile app.
A Ford spokesperson didn't return a request for comment.
It's possible that because Tesla owns, operates, and maintains its own charging stations, it can give owners better and more up-to-date information about where plugs are available, Brownlee said.
On day two, the Mach-E team dropped FordPass, opting instead to use other apps to find stations only in the Electrify America network. Things went much smoother, and the Mach-E finished the second leg just behind the Tesla. Who knows - maybe there was some human error involved in the Mach-E's early charging snafus. On my recent trip in the SUV, it sometimes took a few tries to get a charger to communicate with the vehicle.
Brownlee also mentioned a key advantage the Mach-E had over his Model S Plaid: The Ford was much better at estimating how many miles of range it had left at a given time. The Mach-E consistently displayed a conservative range figure, while the Model S usually ran out of battery faster than promised, something Tesla owners have observed for years.
Watch Brownlee's full video about the trip below:
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