I tried charging a Ford F150 Lightning at a Tesla supercharger station — and it didn't go as planned

Ford F150 Lightning charging at Tesla station
(Image credit: Future)

Ford F150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E owners have a lot to be excited about now that the company is providing complimentary adapters that will let them charge their EVs at Tesla Supercharger locations. That’s because Ford’s providing eligible customers with a free adapter that allows for them to do this, opening up even more locations nationwide where they can juice up their vehicles.

If you’re not familiar with the various EV charging standards, think of it much like Apple’s Lightning port in its older iPhones versus USB-C used in many Android phones. The physical charging ports in Ford EVs differ from what Teslas have, so Ford owners had to rely on its own set of charging stations.

But now that this adapter is available, and subsequent Ford EVs are expected to adopt the NACS (North American Charging Standard) charge port starting 2025, it provides extra convenience if you’re in a pinch by having more accessible charging locations. I got the chance to try it out with a Ford F150 Lightning and here's what happened. For more, see my overall take when driving a Ford F150 for a weekend

Contending against a crowded lot

Left side of Ford F150 Lightning while charging

(Image credit: Future)

Considering that the Supercharger station was built for Teslas, I wasn’t surprised by the narrow lanes — but it simply makes it tougher for larger vehicles like the F150.

Through the FordPass app or in-vehicle infotainment system in the Ford F150 Lightning, I was able to see the closest Tesla Supercharger locations near me. Once I arrived, however, the first thing I noticed was that it was already crowded with Telsas taking up nearly every parking spot. Apart from the strange looks I got pulling up with a mammoth sized F15 Lightning, the next thing I had to juggle was trying to park in the narrow lanes.

Considering that the Supercharger station was built with Tesla cars in mind, I wasn’t that terribly surprised by the narrow lanes — but it simply makes it tougher for larger vehicles like the F150. I suspect that future Tesla Supercharger stations would have wider lanes knowing that more car makers are adopting NACS into their vehicles, including Nissan, Honda, Rivian, Volvo, and much more.

A shorter nozzle

Ford F150 Lightning charging at Tesla station

(Image credit: Future)

Carefully getting out of the car without hitting the nearby Tesla parked next to me, I opened up the charging port cover, removed the nozzle from the Tesla Supercharger and connected the plastic adapter to it. However, that’s when I realized my next problem — the short nozzle of the Supercharger.

I didn’t have this issue charging the F150 Lightning at a station in the BlueOval Charge Network, but this Tesla Supercharger wasn’t designed to charge other EVs when it was being built. The length of the cable was perhaps a few feet long, which was nowhere close to reaching the charging port. As luck would have it, the nearby Tesla exited, so I did the predictable pickup truck owner move: parked diagonally over two parking spots.

Unfortunately, I was still coming up short. Rather than waste more time waiting on an end spot to free up, I opted to drive to another Tesla Supercharger location.

Plug-and-charge convenience at long last

Ford F150 Lightning charging

(Image credit: Future)

I’ll admit that choosing a Tesla Supercharger location at a very busy shopping outlet wasn’t the best idea, but the next one was at a nearby Wawa convenience store about 7 miles away. I wasn’t surprised that the lot was empty because it’s nowhere close to any other shops, so I pulled up to an end spot as close as I could and finally was able to charge the F150 Lightning.

Everything was a breeze, from the automatic charging once I connected the nozzle to the charging port, all the way to when I finished up. The only minor hiccup at finish was trying to remove the plastic charger adapter from the Tesla nozzle, but I eventually realized I had to press the eject button to take it off.

Before I plugged it in, the Ford F150 Lightning had a charge level of 71% — and after 28 minutes — got me to an 89% charge. That roughly equates to a 0.64% charge rate per minute, or 2.6 hours to get a complete charge from 0%. Of course, there are several other factors that can determine this.

What I learned being a first time EV driver

Ford F150 Lightning charging at Tesla station

(Image credit: Future)

I love how I can get stats about the Ford F150 Lightning through the FordPass app, like giving me updates on the charging status, the location of the vehicle and much more. It’s really unbelievable the level of access you get in an EV.

Secondly, I like how you get the option to choose either CarPlay or Android Auto as your in-vehicle system. I’ve driven my brother’s Tesla Model 3 and it doesn’t have either, forcing you to use Tesla’s own infotainment system. Part of the reason why I prefer CarPlay and Android Auto is that my phone effectively powers the F150 Lightning, giving me access to apps I know and love — like Google Maps for navigation and YouTube Music for music playback,

And finally, I realize that it’s expensive to charge a vehicle at a charging station — regardless if it’s a Ford, Tesla, or any other EV on the market. The cost to charge the F150 Lightning at the Tesla Supercharger came out to around $20, and that wasn’t like getting it charged halfway. From what I’ve heard from my colleagues who own an EV, including my brother, the real cost savings come from charging at home — when you’re doing it at off-peak hours. Charging at a station is usually reserved for those dire situations, so that’s something to think about if you do a lot of long drives.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.

  • timhood
    Thanks for a realistic depiction of the process. Too often have I read EV fanboys pretend like there are absolutely no issues with which to contend when owning and operating an EV. One one side, you have the EV evangelists painting a rose-colored picture and on the other you have ICE nuts making EVs out to be a scourge to society. In the middle are everyday people wanting to understand the true ownership experience to make an informed decision.

    At $20 for less than 20% charge, it's clear that public charging should be reserved for absolute necessity, such as on a road trip. That $100 per "tank" is more than the cost of gasoline that would have netted a greater range. I would hope that most people would understand that charging at home during the lowest rate periods would yield the lowest cost of electricity unless one is lucky to find a rare charging station that offers free charging. (Where those exist, they usually charge at a much lower rate, and are most often provided as a means of gaining business while giving up little in hard-dollar cost.)
    Reply
  • JewelMcChanger
    Forgive me but who goes to a supercharger to go from 70% to whatever… I don’t think that’s a reasonable test.

    Tesla cars are optimized to go from 20% to 80% as fast as possible without hurting the batteries.

    Are there enough chargers? Of course not. But Tesla saved its competitors by opening up its superchargers that have a REPUTATION of being highly reliable.

    Everything you need to know about Tesla can be seen at its chargers. They even look beautiful, their competitors do not.
    Reply
  • DarrenTX
    Ridiculous hit piece. Nobody starts a supercharge above 70%. Everyone knows it charges faster and cheaper from 0-50% than 50-100%. I've never spent more than $20 for a full charge at a supercharger in Texas. Been as low as 4% to 99%. Even that tops out at 45 mins. It's most efficient to charge from about 10% to 70% in less than 20 mins and then just hit another charger in 150 miles or something, which is what I usually do on road trips. If there's anything to blame, it's on Ford for not pre-heating the battery or not capable of inputting the full power.

    Starting to see cyber trucks and haven't seen them have any issues parking between the lines. Sure, the cables are short, but they were designed for Teslas. Now I see a lot of side, pull forward chargers for cyber trucks.
    Reply
  • justogabriel
    This article was such nonsense clickbait that I created an account to reply... "did not go as planned" Yeah, anyone with more than 5 minutes to spare know the Issues non Tesla drivers have, specially large vehicles due to space requirements... it did not go as planned because you DID NOT Plan... That is like renting a F250 Diesel, not planning and stooping at a gas station that do not have diesel and saying is the truck's fault you could not fill up there!
    Then there is the Charging...at 71% the battery is near the top of the charging curve, your charging "math" makes ZERO sense. I can charge my EV9 (99KW Battery) from 10 to 82% in 27 minutes... again, with spare 5 minutes you can see many influencers charging F150's at Superchargers in around 35-45 minutes till 80-85%
    I would rather read some AI article after reading this nonsense.
    Reply
  • mlhutche
    admin said:
    I got the chance to charge a Ford F150 Lightning at a Tesla Supercharger station with the help of an adapter that Ford's providing to eligible owners. It opens up more access to charging locations nationwide when you're in a pinch.

    I tried charging a Ford F150 Lightning at a Tesla supercharger station — and it didn't go as planned : Read more
    At 48 cents per kwh 100 miles for a lightning costs about $24 and a gas F-150 Supercrew 4wd costs about $18 for 100 miles. Tesla cost would be about 39 cents per kwh, so about $19, slightly more than gas. Charging at home averages about 13 cents, so about 1/3 the cost of the gas F-150.
    Easily available facts. Why do you people talk about percent of charge - silly.
    Agree that charging is best done from low charge (10-20%) for 15-30 minutes to get the most miles of range per minute. Only charge to a higher percent if you have a specific need or have a good book to read because it slows down for all BEV.
    Reply
  • john_velasco
    timhood said:
    Thanks for a realistic depiction of the process. Too often have I read EV fanboys pretend like there are absolutely no issues with which to contend when owning and operating an EV. One one side, you have the EV evangelists painting a rose-colored picture and on the other you have ICE nuts making EVs out to be a scourge to society. In the middle are everyday people wanting to understand the true ownership experience to make an informed decision.

    At $20 for less than 20% charge, it's clear that public charging should be reserved for absolute necessity, such as on a road trip. That $100 per "tank" is more than the cost of gasoline that would have netted a greater range. I would hope that most people would understand that charging at home during the lowest rate periods would yield the lowest cost of electricity unless one is lucky to find a rare charging station that offers free charging. (Where those exist, they usually charge at a much lower rate, and are most often provided as a means of gaining business while giving up little in hard-dollar cost.)
    Thanks! I'm all for sustainable solutions, but I need something practical that won't hit my wallet too much. I don't think EVs are worth it if you're main use for them are long distance driving. However, I were ever to buy one, you can bet it'd be a second car to an existing gas one -- and I'd only probably ever charge it at home.
    Reply
  • john_velasco
    JewelMcChanger said:
    Forgive me but who goes to a supercharger to go from 70% to whatever… I don’t think that’s a reasonable test.

    Tesla cars are optimized to go from 20% to 80% as fast as possible without hurting the batteries.

    Are there enough chargers? Of course not. But Tesla saved its competitors by opening up its superchargers that have a REPUTATION of being highly reliable.

    Everything you need to know about Tesla can be seen at its chargers. They even look beautiful, their competitors do not.
    I think this is the thing that first time EV drivers need to know more about, like how there's better charging efficiency when you're charging at a low level versus high. I will write another story about it.
    Reply
  • waterrockets
    DarrenTX said:
    Ridiculous hit piece. Nobody starts a supercharge above 70%. Everyone knows it charges faster and cheaper from 0-50% than 50-100%. I've never spent more than $20 for a full charge at a supercharger in Texas. Been as low as 4% to 99%. Even that tops out at 45 mins. It's most efficient to charge from about 10% to 70% in less than 20 mins and then just hit another charger in 150 miles or something, which is what I usually do on road trips. If there's anything to blame, it's on Ford for not pre-heating the battery or not capable of inputting the full power.

    Starting to see cyber trucks and haven't seen them have any issues parking between the lines. Sure, the cables are short, but they were designed for Teslas. Now I see a lot of side, pull forward chargers for cyber trucks.
    FWIW, we visited our daughter in College Station, super-charged when we got there, and at the end of the weekend, we were at 70%, and decided to top off before heading back to Austin, and did so at the HEB supercharger.

    Of note though -> with preconditioning, we were charging at 450 mph that day (I've seen 610mph), and the Lightning was only 112mph in the article. The Lightning must be limited in some way.
    Reply