Tesla’s ‘World’s Fastest Charging Station’ claim upheld

Published: 22 July 2016

► Ecotricity challenges Tesla’s ‘Fastest’ claim
► ASA ruling finds in favour of American EV maker
► Tesla Superchargers even faster than advertised 

The UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled in favour of Tesla’s claim that its Supercharger charging system is the ‘World’s Fastest Charging Station’.

UK energy company Ecotricity had challenged both this and Tesla’s assertion that a Tesla Model S would save buyers up to £6000 in petrol costs over the average five-year length of car ownership. The ASA found in Tesla’s favour in the latter instance as well.

As part of the proceedings it also emerged that Tesla has quietly been upgrading the maximum output of its Superchargers from 135kW to 145kW…

So hold on – Tesla’s Superchargers are even more powerful than we thought?

Oh yes. But this won’t actually help you charge your car any quicker. The maximum charging rate for a Model S is 120kW – the extra 25kW is spare capacity at the moment.

What was Ecotricity’s beef?

Ecotricity argued that there are chargers available from other manufacturers that can deliver more power – most notably the GB/T charger from Chinese manufacture GuoBiao, which has a theoretical ceiling of 180kW.

However, Tesla pointed out that while this was true, the maximum charging capacity of the batteries in cars compatible with the GB/T charger was just 50kW, less than half the capability of the complete Tesla system.

In fact, even the fastest rival system Ecotricity cited – the 100kW SAE Combo charger used by German carmakers – is only capable of actually delivering 60kW to its compatible vehicles. Tesla argued that this was no competition for its actual 120kW charging. The ASA agreed with them.

What about that £6000 petrol cost saving?

Tesla explained that its calculations were based on electricity pricing data from the European Commission and petrol costs averaged from petrolprices.com (which itself relies on pricing data from some 8500 petrol stations), and its customers using its Supercharger network 10% of the time; the Superchargers are free for Model S owners.

In fact, Tesla said that 10% figure was rounded down from a worldwide Supercharger use figure of 11% – and in the UK Supercharger use was at 19% at the time. Given this, Tesla’s assertion that both its electric and petrol costing were conservative, and that it used a comparatively conservative BMW 535i as the petrol baseline, the ASA again sided with the American EV manufacturer – refusing to uphold Ecotricity’s complaint and saying that Telsa’s claimes were ‘unlikely to mislead’. 

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By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count