Why The Forbes Article About Tesla & Chargepoint is Nonsense

All opinions are Cannonball-tested, Alex Roy-approved

Alex Roy

This is a free country, which means everyone’s entitled to an opinion. I have mine. You have yours. I hold journalists — or at least certain publications — to a higher standard than I do the swill overflowing Facebook. There are even journalists with whom I disagree that I still hold in high regard, for it is their interpretation of data that differs from mine, not the skillful gathering of information, which is the lifeblood of honest intellectual pursuit.

And then you have the utter nonsense published in Forbes, an outlet I’ve long associated with intellectual honesty.

Those days are over.

It’s no secret I’m a Tesla fan. Not of Tesla the company, or even of the cars. I’m a fan of the vision for the cars, and of what kind of car company one can and should build if starting from scratch.The Model S is brilliant on too many levels to cite, and, like all of man’s creations, flawed. But genius lies even in its flaws, a blinding example of a better way, and a signpost for the future of all cars. I would own one in a heartbeat. It's the most American car made. A paragon of ingenuity. An icepick in the face of traditional thinking. The Model X? An exploded dream of hubris, gorgeous and bizarre, brilliant and unforgettable. The Model 3? It’s the car BMW should be building but isn’t, and it’s the Tesla that can’t get here too soon. The company may depend on it.

I’ve avoided discussion of Tesla the company, or even of Musk himself, because I don’t particularly care. I write about what I know and understand. I write about cars, and what people do with them. I write about what I use, and want, and can see with my own eyes and deconstruct on the ground, rather than discussion forums and parking lot debates.

Others talk. Some write. I drive.

My Expertise In Driving, Charging & Charging Networks

I've owned everything, including a Citroen and two Morgans. EVs? I’ve rented, shared and borrowed countless Teslas, Nissan Leafs, Volts and even a Renault Twizy. I owned, raced, stolen, broken, rented and sold more cars than most people ever will, and risked my life for no reason other than ego and faith in machines.

I led the team that shattered the Cannonball record in 2007. I led the team that set the 3-wheeled Cannonball record in 2015. I was on the team that set the the EV and semi-Autonomous Cannonball Records in October of 2015. I led the team that broke that record again this past August (details soon).

I’ve driven more high-speed miles in electric cars than almost any EV owner alive. I’ve driven more high-speed miles using Tesla’s Autopilot than almost anyone outside of Tesla’s Autopilot R&D team, and maybe more. I’ve done more electric charging, further apart, on a tighter schedule, under harsher conditions, than all but a handful of people alive. I’ve also tested more competing semi-autonomous driving suites than any automotive journalist I’m aware of.

When it comes to driving anything with 4 wheels A to B — when A to B are more than a few hundred miles apart — I probably know more about it than anyone blogging about Tesla’s failings to meet web traffic targets.

So when Forbes published an article by my erstwhile friend Bertell Schmitt suggesting that Chargepoint’s Fast Charging stations are in any way comparable to Tesla’s Superchargers, I am compelled to call that what it is:

Lazy journalism, intellectual dishonesty, or (I just ate leftover Mexican, do you have a bucket).

The Nonsense, Defined

The claim I dispute was made in an article titled “Who Has The Biggest EV Charging Network? Trigger Warning: It Ain’t Tesla.” I won’t disagree that Chargepoint’s network is larger than Tesla’s, but they’re not comparable, as Fred Lambert at Electrek pointed out, and Forbes has already amended their article to address errors highlighted by Electrek.

But the real crime here is that Schmitt had to know that in no universe could a Fast Charger in the Chargepoint network charge anything at even half the rate of a Tesla Supercharger. Or maybe he didn’t, and like most “journalists” has never actually compared the two charging networks back to back, with the same (or different) cars.

With the majority of Chargepoints chargers operating at half to one-third the speed of Tesla's Superchargers, Chargepoint would need approximately three times as many chargers than Tesla — if not more — in order to claim charge infrastructure equivalency. That means Chargpoint, with approximately 30,000 chargers, has about...three times more chargers than Tesla. All of Tesla's are Superchargers, and free, and in a fairly obvious/accessible place.

Chargepoints? I've got an entire article coming about that experience. If you have issues with Tesla's Superchargers, boy, you're going to hate the Chargepoint Network.

Guess what I did last week? Tried to recharge a Tesla using Chargepoint’s “Fast Chargers” on a trip from Boston to Washington. Results? Not so good. Pathetic, actually, since I had to pay more for less. A LOT less, as in much slower charging times. 

Tesla Superchargers? Just plug it in. But you need a Tesla.

Almost everything negative you read about Tesla’s charging network is nonsense. When you’re in the business of bringing “Cannonballing” into the 21st century by using EVs instead of internal combustion, trust me, you’ll drive whatever will get you cross-country fastest. And you’ll recharge by any means necessary, using the fastest method possible.

Which brings us to why I love Teslas so much. It’s the fastest EV there is, with the fastest charging network out there. When someone comes out with something better, I’ll give it a shot.

Until then, when it comes to EVs, I vote Tesla. Cannonball-tested. Alex Roy approved.

Do you have an issue with the company? Then don't buy, lease. Are you short $TSLA? Not my problem. Don't come to me looking for ammo to sink the company. I'm an enthusiast, and the Model S speaks directly to me. Not just today, but for the tomorrow of EVs — especially Autonomous EVs — that are both fast and sexy. I'm sure the Chevy Bolt will be great. But electrification isn't the only reason people want Teslas.

Just in case it is, you won't need a keyfob (or maybe even an app) to charge your Model 3. Free or not, you'll be able to just plug it into a Supercharger. Trust me.

Schmitt? Forbes? Get off your clickbait asses, prep an EV and beat me cross country using the Chargepoint network. Then I’ll listen.

In the meantime, I don’t own any Tesla stock, but I did sleep in a Tesla customer lounge while charging once. An entire 40 minutes. Does Chargepoint offer coffee, leather chairs, wifi and bathrooms?

Alex Roy is an Editor-at-Large for The Drive, author of The Driver, and set the 2007 Transcontinental “Cannonball Run” Record in 31 hours & 4 minutes. You may follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.