I Spend a Week Using Only Public Charging for the Cheapest New EV. It’s Much Harder Than I Expected

Public charging is surprisingly hard, AND expensive!

Tommy shoots this video with the idea to charge his 2023 Chevrolet Bolt all week, just using the public charging.

Starting at Denver International Airports public parking, Tommy uses the airport’s free public charger to fill up his Chevy Bolt, which isn’t exactly free as the garage charges for parking. From there, Tommy attempts to use the world of public charging to keep his Bolt going. That means: no (free) charging at home, or at work.

We’ve received thousands of comments regarding one of the biggest issues of electric vehicle ownership: public charging. Be it the poorly functioning charging infrastructure, or lack of options for urban dwellings, public charging is fraught with problems. Not everyone has the luxury to charge at home or work, much less have the ability to pony up time and money for fast charging.

With this in mind: Tommy heads into his busy week with a fully charged car.

Over the course of seven days, Tommy takes us through a personal video blog highlighting every stop needed, and how he solves each charge challenge. In one week, Tommy used three level II chargers, three DC fast chargers and three “free” chargers. He also encountered several broken chargers. Several times, he had to make sacrifices to balance his time and slow charge rate (the Bolt charges at a max of 55 kWh). Things got challenging.

Believe it or not, Tesla may come to the rescue soon.

At least 7,500 chargers from Tesla’s network are supposed to be available for all EVs by the end of next year. This should include at least 3,500 new and existing superchargers and 4,000 slower destination chargers at public commerce locations. This is part of an agreement with the president’s administration as they gear up to open 500,000 charging stations by 2030.

Simply put: when/if these Tesla stations open up to the public, it could take a lot of the sting out of finding a functioning charging station. On top of that, the more electric networks that open, the pricing may stabilize. It looks like Tesla’s ‘Magic Dock’ will begin to show up shortly. No word on charging fees yet.

Over the course of one week, Tommy traveled 486 miles, and he spent $20.94 to make it through.