Opinion: Bucee's Should Embrace Tesla Superchargers
1/1/2022: MAJOR UPDATE! It looks like Bucee's listened to me (and others, of course) and is in the process of installing Superchargers at many of their locations.
Tesla Motor's Club Forum post by MarcoRP (11/17/2021)
Those that know me know I have a few things I’m obsessed with: Tesla and Buc-ee’s.
Most people may already know what a Tesla is. It’s a really neat electric car that I do not have. If you don’t know what Buc-ee’s is, it’s a convenience store chain based in Texas (but now expanding) known for their squeaky-clean bathrooms and one-stop-shop for food, drinks, snacks and even Texas themed home decor.
I’ve been wanting a Tesla for quite some time now. I’ve acknowledged (read, told by wife) that I won’t be getting one for a while. However, that doesn’t stop me from spending most of my driving time wondering what it’d be like to drive a quiet, minimal, human-sized RC car.
During one of my drives to San Antonio, I thought to myself: what if I made this drive in a Tesla. How would that work? As I did the math in my head on I-10, I started to make the unsolicited argument of why Buc-ee’s is the ideal location for Tesla Superchargers in Texas.
TL;DR? I want a Tesla so bad that I imagined what a road trip from Houston to San Antonio would be like if (1) I had a Tesla and (2) Buc-ee’s had superchargers.
What is a supercharger?
A Tesla is an electric car, meaning you don’t need to pump gas, but you do have to plug it in to charge. Well, if you’re on a long road trip, where are you supposed to charge? That’s were superchargers come in. They make up Tesla’s network of chargers that are located in strategic areas (not strategic enough, hence this post) that ensure people driving aren’t stranded in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery.
Now let’s talk about Buc-ee’s. Why should there be superchargers at Buc-ee’s? Here are my three reasons why it makes perfect sense.
1. Location. Location. Location.
Take the biggest cities in Texas: Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Drive from any of those cities to another, and you are guaranteed to drive past a Buc-ee’s.
2. For long road-trips, Buc-ee’s is a destination.
If I’m driving from Houston to Austin, Dallas or San Antonio, I’m stopping at Buc-ee’s and I’m not the only one. It’s what I set my navigation app to when I take off. Stopping at a Buc-ee’s provides a bathroom break, opportunities to grab some snacks and allows you to just get out of your car and stretch.
If you’re on a road trip with friends/family, it’s also the perfect place to get the crew out and have a nice little break.
3. More customers!
In addition to clean bathrooms, good food and a variety of drinks/snacks, Buc-ee’s also sells gas. Obviously, if you’re driving an electric car, you don’t need gas. BUT, if you’re driving from Houston to San Antonio, you might need to charge somewhere. You might have to pee. You might be hungry. You might want some coffee and a breakfast taco. Why not also charge at the same place?
Houston to San Antonio – An Example
Since this idea came about as I was driving to San Antonio, let me show you what my trip would have looked like in my hypothetical Tesla.
- I’m going on a trip to San Antonio from Houston. The distance is ~200 miles.
- I’m driving a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus. This is a hypothetical, but if it were real, this would be the model I would probably end up getting. The estimated range is 240 miles.
- The assumption is that I would use the supercharger in Flatonia, TX (105 miles away) OR
- Supercharger at Buc-ee’s in Luling, TX (145 miles away)
- I’ll do 20-30 miles of driving in San Antonio as part of the trip
Option 1 – No Buc-ee’s Super Charger
So I’m heading to San Antonio. Knowing me, I’m waking up early to beat the traffic out of Houston since it takes about an hour just to get out. My Tesla is at 100% battery and loaded with the luggage, backpack, drone and Rain-X® Bug Remover Windshield Washer Fluid because I’m not having it with bugs on this trip.
I take off, still dark outside and quietly drive for an hour and a half or so while listening to the latest episode of The Vergecast.
100 or so miles in, I have 50-55% of range left, but have to charge because there are no more superchargers on the way to San Antonio. I’m in Flatonia, TX and pull up into Amigos Country Corner. From the looks of it, it’s a nice spot. But, it’s not Buc-ee’s.
I plug in the car and go into the store. I go to the bathroom, get snacks, food, hang out outside of the car because I’m not getting crumbs in my Tesla. It takes around 20-30 minutes to get to a 90% charge (it’s not recommended to charge to 100% for battery life reasons), so I’m just chilling for the few extra minutes it takes to get to a good charge.
I continue my trip with 215 miles of range (240 estimate range x 90%) and drive the remaining 90 miles to San Antonio.
I get to San Antonio with about 125 miles of range left and depending on where I’m staying (I’m a Marriott guy), the charging options might vary. There aren’t any superchargers within San Antonio, only destination chargers. Destination chargers are typically found in parking garages, hotels (not Marriotts based on my search) and some grocery stores/pharmacies. These typically charge a little bit slower than superchargers, and might only be available to patrons/customers.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say I don’t charge at any of the destination chargers. I drive my 20-30 miles to get around the city for the duration of the trip. That leaves my range around 95-105 miles for the drive back home.
It’s time to drive back home. How far away is Amigos again? 90 miles? Oh. Hmmmm. Am I going to bank on making it back to Flatonia with 5-10 miles left? I know Teslas take some measures to ensure you get to your location with enough range, but still. Enter EV range anxiety – the fear of being stranded in an electric car with a dead battery. It’s one of the main factors that prevent people from going electric. Just thinking about how I would handle this hypothetical scenario makes me nervous. So I’ll just discuss the alternative: Buc-ee’s.
Option 2 – Buc-ee’s superchargers
Same facts as option 1. Car’s packed and loaded with Rain-X® Bug Remover Windshield Washer Fluid. Time to hit the road!
Instead of driving to the hour and a half to Flatonia, I’m holding it and driving 40 more miles to the Buc-ee’s in Luling, TX.
It’s 145-mile drive, so that means the Tesla has 95 miles of range left. But that’s fine. I plug it into the supercharger, walk into Buc-ee’s, head inside, go to the restroom, look for the perfect combination of sweet/salty/sour snacks and checkout.
I’m chowing down my Sour Punch Straws and sipping on my Hint watermelon flavored water because its sweetness pairs so well with the sourness of my candy. I also have to be sure my hands aren’t sticky because I get back into the car, so I go back into Buc-ee’s and wash my hands.
Time to drive. The Tesla’s battery is at 90% (215 miles) and I drive the last 60 miles to my destination in San Antonio and make it with 155 miles left of range.
Same as before – I drive my 20-30 miles just to get around the city and do/see the things I went to San Antonio for.
It’s time to drive back. How far is Buc-ee’s? 60 miles. Oh, okay. My ~120 range should be enough to get me there without any EV range anxiety. Better yet, since I’m leaving early, I get to Buc-ee’s, plug in and have a sweet sweet breakfast taco and some coffee.
I finish my breakfast, the Tesla is charged to 90% (215 miles) and I’m ready to make the drive back home. 145 miles later, I’m home with 70 miles of range, but range doesn’t matter, because I’m home.
The best part about this trip. Nothing changed. Had I driven a conventional gas car, I would have planned on stopping at Buc-ee’s anyway. I was probably going to get gas at Buc-ee’s. I presumably had a nice trip and definitely had an excellent driving experience.
All of this was possible because Buc-ee’s had a supercharger for the Tesla I don’t have.
Keep in mind:
All of the things I’ve included here, including the ranges and charge times are estimates and hypothetical. Except for the RainX; my car’s always topped off with that stuff. When I get Tesla, I can write an update on what actually happened.
I’m also not the first person to propose this epic crossover. Forums online have been on this for a while.
Take a look at what my pal (not really) kwellmey wrote about a the only other supercharger on I-10 between Houston and San Antonio in Columbus, TX on Tesla’s forum:
…We stopped there this past weekend and there was no toilet paper in the restrooms, no soap, and no paper towels. What was once a nice, new Comfort Inn Suites is really going downhill quickly.
What we need are Superchargers at Buc-ees! The Luling, Texas Buc-ees location would be great!Tesla Forum user kwellmey writing about their experience at a supercharger station in Columbus, TX
No toilet paper?! No paper towels!? How dare they.
Here’s another Tesla online forum asking the very same question.
Maybe this entire post is my trying to justify me getting a Tesla. However, as we’ve seen through these online forums, I’m sure there are other people who actually own a Tesla (tear) that would appreciate this crossover.