Tesla just unveiled a new weapon in the war against EV range anxiety

Tesla Supercharger
(Image credit: Tesla)

Figuring out how to find EV charging stations in a Tesla is practically effortless. The in-car navigation system has all the tools you need to find a Tesla Supercharger, and the navigation system will automatically add recharging stops when they’re needed. Now, it looks like that system has had an important upgrade.

According to a tweet from The Cybertruck Guy (opens in new tab) (via Teslarati (opens in new tab)), Tesla’s in-car navigation is now capable of rerouting you to Tesla Supercharger stations that aren’t as busy. In other words, the Tesla can see that you might have to wait at Supercharger A, and sends you to Supercharger B to get you plugged in more quickly. 

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The fact that Teslas (and some other electric cars) have navigation systems that can account for recharging needs is pretty important. It means you, the driver, don't have to worry about figuring out where to stop. The fact cars will adapt, and send you to a location that isn’t as busy, is one more thing you don’t have to worry about.

That’s a big deal for anyone who does suffer from anxiety about range or charging — especially if other automakers follow Tesla’s example.

I can speak from personal experience that driving an EV long distance can be a gamble. In fact, I wrote about how I used an electric car to get to my brother's wedding — and I barely made it. Even if you know where to find charging stations along your route, you can never be sure of what to expect when you actually arrive. Even if you have a way to check real-time charger status at your intended stop, it’s not easy to keep checking it while you’re driving.

If you find yourself at a busy spot your only choice is to sit and wait or head back on the road and see if you can plug in somewhere else. Assuming you have the charge to make it to the next rest stop or exit. Worse still, charging spots typically have to share their power supply — so the busier it is the slower recharging will be for everyone.

Having your car do it for you takes almost all the stress out of the situation. Especially if you have a car like a Tesla, which offers a mix of long range and high-speed charging. It’s one of the many benefits of Tesla’s ‘do everything’ approach.

Going on a long trip? You don’t need to worry about where to stop to charge, because your car can pick the most convenient charger along your route. And if that charger happens to be too busy when you’re almost there? The car can find the nearest alternative and calculate whether you have enough charge to get there.

In my experience Tesla tends to play it safe with recharging, and prompts you to stop and plug in long before your battery level starts getting urgent. So there should be enough power reserves to get you to a quieter charger without issue.

As electric cars become more popular, demand for charging stations is going to get more intense. Especially if high gas prices push people to make the switch before they would have otherwise done. The answer to charging more EVs is to build more accessible EV chargers, but features like Tesla has to offer are going to become even more important going forward. 

In the same way that apps like Waze can automatically route people around traffic, EVs should be helping to ease charger demand by automatically spreading drivers over a wider area. That means drivers are far less likely to have to wait for an open charger, charging speeds aren’t throttled due to high demand and there’s less burden on the local power grid.

But most invaluably, a widespread system like this will offer peace of mind. Driving long distances can be a giant pain in the butt, and stopping to recharge along the way can make that even worse if it’s busy or things keep going wrong. Giving your car the ability to make decisions on where and when you stop, without necessarily needing human intervention can be a huge weight off your shoulders.

We just need an accessible version of this system that can be used by cars that aren’t made by Tesla.

Read next: Tesla Superchargers just hit a new milestone, and it shows how far EV charging has come. You can also check out our guide to the 7 things you need to know before you buy an electric car.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.