Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Typical Tesla Supercharger Station Line -- Queue Reportedly Happened Over Thanksgiving 2019

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Typical Tesla Supercharger Station Line -- Queue Reportedly Happened Over Thanksgiving 2019 Holiday Jam

Does a video that shows a long queue for charging Tesla vehicles indicate some sort of government failure? No, that's misleading: The earliest version of this video was reportedly shot over Thanksgiving in 2019. Charging station locations have expanded since then.

The claim, which has been made on other platforms, reappeared in a post on Instagram on April 6, 2023. It showed a video of a line of Tesla vehicles and text that read:

Tesla Charging Queue in California...

The background music is comedian Tim Hawkins' parody of the song "The Candy Man." In Hawkins' version, called "The Government Can," the lyrics say the government can "take your money with a twinkle in their eye" and "give it to some other guy." The implication in the video, then, is that the government has something to do with the long charging queue.

This is how the post looked on Instagram at the time of writing:

tesla charging queue in california IG post.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed May 17 17:24:29 2023 UTC)

It's true that the video shows a line of Tesla vehicles waiting to charge. The clip posted on Instagram was taken from a longer video posted on YouTube on November 30, 2019. According to the description, it shows "15+ Teslas waiting to recharge at 4:45pm Thanksgiving Day" at the San Luis Obispo Supercharger station in California.

Lead Stories confirmed that the video was shot at the Tesla Supercharger in San Luis Obispo. A Google Maps street view of the station, taken in May 2019, looks identical to the location where the video was filmed:

tesla supercharger google maps 1.png
(Source: Google Maps screenshot taken on Wed May 17 18:34:08 2023 UTC)

tesla supercharger google maps 2.png
(Source: Google Maps screenshot taken on Wed May 17 18:36:34 2023 UTC)

The video also appears to be the earliest and longest version of the scene. A Google Image search of a still from the video generated results that all referenced the YouTube video.

However, the implication of the claim -- that electric vehicles are a failing product -- is missing context. Both a 2019 article and a 2018 article from the electric transportation website electrek.co argue that because electric vehicles are a budding technology, the lack of charging stations is an understandable and solvable problem. The 2019 article, which includes the full YouTube video of the line at the San Luis Obispo Supercharger station and also says the video was taken on Thanksgiving Day weekend, notes:

Fortunately, EV charging stations are commonly networked, providing a way for drivers to know via mobile apps and dashboard indicators if a charging spot is free -- or otherwise reroute to an available location.

Tesla has acknowledged that holiday hours are a peak time to charge electric vehicles and encourages drivers to charge their Tesla vehicles before holidays by offering free supercharging in specific states. A mobile supercharger powered by Tesla's product Megapack was reportedly deployed at the San Luis Obispo Supercharger station around the time the full-length video of the long line was taken. The purpose of the large mobile supercharger was to mitigate the charging needs of Tesla drivers.

At the time of writing, Tesla has more than 45,000 superchargers worldwide and posts an extensive list of U.S. superchargers on its website.

Additionally, superchargers are not the only way to charge Tesla vehicles. Tesla drivers can order a wall connector or a mobile connector for at-home charging, and some destinations have charging options. Drivers can also utilize third-party charging stations, which can be located on the website PlugShare.

Lead Stories has previously debunked other claims related to Tesla, including that the company launched a new cryptocurrency. We have also previously debunked several claims related to electric vehicles.

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Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
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