What is the best charging network for electric cars (Tesla Supercharger, Ionity, Total, etc.)?

Fast charging players are striving to offer an increasingly comprehensive offer to electromobilists. After a year of opening some Tesla Superchargers in Europe, it’s time to take stock of what’s also available elsewhere: Ionity, Total Energies, Fastned, Electra, Allego…

Ionity on the right, Tesla Supercharger on the left // Source: Bob JOUY for Frandroid

Fast charging is at the heart of concerns for electric car drivers who drive long distances. In fact, once a trip is beyond the reach of your vehicle, you need to stop for a few tens of minutes to reach your destination.

If until 2021, Ionity was the essential network in France and Europe, things have changed with the arrival of several more or less unexpected players. Arguably the biggest shock came in November 2021 when Tesla launched its program to open up Superchargers to everyone.

In this dossier, we will detail the main numbers of the different networks available, as well as the main characteristics of each tariff operator in terms of location or price.

Ionity is getting stronger

In October 2022, Ionity was present throughout the national territory and in most European countries, as shown in the map below. More specifically, these are 431 stations already built in Europeand 47 are under construction.

The Ionity network in Europe in October 2022

France is quite endowed with Ionity chargers, as there are no less than 107 stations spread across the national territory. Ionity also announces that there are 11 under construction in France, which should fill in some of the fast-charging deserts that still exist.

The 107 Ionity stations in France represent 470 chargers, an average of 4.4 chargers per station. In terms of prices, Ionity is displayed at €0.69/kWh without subscription, while a subscription of €17.99 per month reduces the price to €0.35/kWh. To learn more about Ionity, we’ve dedicated a file to what is undoubtedly Europe’s most important network for fast charging.

The evolution of the number of Ionity stations in France and Tesla Superchargers // Source: Bertrand MOREAU

An unexpected reversal of the situation occurred in November 2021: against Ionity, which was almost in a monopoly situation, Tesla offered some Superchargers overnight for all EVs with a Combo CCS port in Europe.

At the time of writing these lines, no less than 46 Tesla Supercharger stations are open to everyone in France, which is far less than the 107 Ionity stations nationwide. But is it really Ionity who’s been leading the dance so far?

Tesla is already the first charging operator for everyone

The pilot program to open Tesla Superchargers to everyone is nearly a year old, and today 46 Superchargers in France are open to other vehicles. Tesla also recently communicated about the progress of its network on the Old Continent:

The Tesla Supercharger network is also the largest public fast charging network in Europe. Launched in November 2021, our Supercharger Access Pilot Program for non-Tesla vehicles has continued to expand to new stations and countries, in line with our mission to accelerate the global transition to sustainable energy. The Pilot Program is now accessible in 14 countries, totaling more than 4,600 Superchargers distributed in more than 320 stations.

If Ionity can boast of having more stations than Tesla in Europe (431 versus 320), the number of charging stations available is clearly in Tesla’s favor: 4600 terminals versus less than 1900 Ionity terminals.

The evolution of the number of charging points in France at Ionity and Tesla // Source: Bertrand MOREAU

The same observation can be made in France, where we find 722 Tesla terminals open to all, that is, more than 50% more than the Ionity terminals. The chart above shows how quickly Tesla can add terminals to its Supercharger opening program for non-Tesla vehicles: the infrastructures are already built, it only remains to authorize the charging of third-party vehicles in software.

Tesla Supercharger stations are now often equipped with 20 to 30 terminals charging station, authorizing a new location for non-Tesla vehicles immediately adds the equivalent of five to six Ionity stations in terms of available terminals.

The Mâcon supercharger: 20 terminals available // Source: Bob Jouy for Frandroid

Therefore Tesla is currently the leading fast-charging operator in France and Europe., if we consider the number of available terminals. For France, we note that there are currently only half of Tesla’s terminals open to everyone, which leaves a comfortable margin for Tesla to maintain its lead over Ionity.

The price on Tesla is no better than the Ionity however as it is necessary to count €0.79/kWh to charge a vehicle of another brand. It is possible to lower this cost to €0.67/kWh in exchange for a €12.99 per month subscription, which is non-binding.

In addition to the higher price than on Ionity, it should be noted that Tesla Supercharger locations are also rarely in highway service areas., and that sometimes a detour of several kilometers is required to load. The notable advantage will come from the availability of terminals in large numbers at each station, which makes the Tesla network preferable during major intersections.

New actors appear

If the two giants that are Ionity and Tesla today have the most fast charging stations for them, that doesn’t stop other players from coming to the market, to take a piece of the pie.

Among the currently more modest networks, five are significantly established in France at the moment with terminals offering a power of 100 kW or more. That is Total Energies, Lidl, Electra, Allego and Fastned.

Total Energies has been present since 2020 but is still poorly represented with 57 sites and 167 terminals. This is expected to increase in the future, in particular thanks to highway companies that have announced that their areas will soon be equipped with fast charging.

A Tesla Model Y charging on the Total Energies grid // Source: Bob JOUY for Frandroid

a retailer, Lidl, reinforces with 59 stations over 100 kW, but only one terminal is available at a time, making it difficult to recommend stations on long journeys. They are more suitable for residents who need to carry while shopping, which should happen in other hypermarkets as well.

The map of fast chargers in France, October 2022 // Source: Denis SCHOELENS

Among the other significant actors, we can cite Electra (16 stations, 88 terminals) as a fast-growing newcomer, offering its fast chargers generally in cities rather than on major roads.

Allego has resumed its establishment since late 2021 and now has 42 stations for a total of 155 terminals, while Fastned is struggling to get off the ground with just 9 stations and 44 terminals. The station map visible above shows in detail all existing and future fast chargers in France if you want to get more details on the current state of the networks.

Price and loading speed

As far as pricing is concerned, we have summarized current prices in the table below. Please note that these are non-subscription prices, and thatsometimes it is possible to benefit from more attractive rates in exchange for a monthly payment to the operator in question (Fastned, Ionity and Tesla in particular), or via one of the many charging cards available.

Operator Price
ionity €0.69/kWh
You are here €0.79/kWh
total energies €0.65/kWh
Fast €0.59/kWh
Electra €0.44/kWh
Allego €0.98/kWh

At the moment, Electra is in the best position with a cost of €0.44/kWh. On the other hand, we find the Allego that flirts with the symbolic one euro bar, as its price is €0.98/kWh. Among the other three, the ranking in order of price at the time of writing these lines is: Fastned (€0.59/kWh), Totalenergies (€0.65/kWh) and Tesla (€0.79/kWh).

Finally, with regard to the charging powers of each network, we summarize them in the table below, taking into account that they correspond to the maximum powers offered by the terminals, and not to the charging power of a car that is connected to them.

Operator Maximum force
ionity 350kW
You are here 250kW
total energies 175kW
Fast 300kW
Electra 300kW
Allego 300kW

Totalenergies is currently the last player in the ranking with a maximum power of 175 kW, followed by Tesla with its 250 kW Superchargers. Fastned, Electra and Allego offer a power of 300 kW. Finally, Ionity advertises a maximum power of 350 kW.

complementary networks

If the current major players can be summed up in two words (Tesla and Ionity), you will find that the fast charging market is growing and is likely to change very quickly. Energy giants like Total Energies are starting to seriously establish themselvesoffering even more options for electric drivers.

Supermarkets will gradually become essential in fast charging, and Lidl has taken the lead in this segment a bit. Finally, Tesla, with a presence in Europe, will continue to open its stations to all vehicles and should maintain a substantial advantage over its future rivals.

Until here, Tesla remains the only one to offer so many terminals by location. Where Ionity, Fastned or Total Energies opens a station in late 2022 with six charging stations, Tesla opens one with no less than thirty locations.

However, you have to accept very high fees for fast charging, which costs up to 20 euros per 100 kilometers for many electric cars. If daily trips are still very cheap, unfortunately the same cannot be said of long trips.

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