Do Teslas Use Google Maps? Tesla Navigation vs. Google Maps

Teslas navigation user interface is simply out of this world beautiful. Every software update that they make, leaves me wondering; how do they do it? Did they create this massive map database on their own? What maps does Tesla use?

Tesla’s navigation system uses Google Maps and is based on several third-party services (such as Mapbox), from which it gathers the data it requires to function as accurately as possible. You can also use Google Maps directly on the Tesla screen by using various methods.

Check out the rest of this article, as I took a deep dive into this interesting topic. I just had to put on my nerd glasses for this one!

Can You Use Google Maps In Tesla?

If you’re wondering, “Does tesla use Google Maps?” then here’s your answer: Yes! Tesla makes use of Google Maps for its navigation system.

How Tesla Uses Google Maps

Before diving further into how Tesla uses Google Maps, it’s essential to understand that Tesla’s navigation system is based on several third-party services, from which it gathers the data it requires to function as accurately as possible. 

Tesla uses Google Maps as a base for all of its own maps, meaning the actual visuals you see on your vehicle’s screen are derived from Google. However, the actual navigation data comes from other external suppliers, such as Mapbox, a company with which Tesla has been cooperating since 2015

Do Teslas Use Google Maps? Tesla Navigation vs. Google Maps 1

During these last few years, there have been rumors flying around about Tesla cutting off outsourcing on its navigation system altogether. However, as it stands, the company still relies on map data sources like Google Maps and Mapbox.

Having said that, the company has been able to move on to using some of its own systems when it comes to traffic data. Even though Tesla has always been (and still is, to some degree) reliant on INRIX for this type of information, they’ve made some progress in becoming more independent and relying solely on their own fleet.

Tesla’s fleet, or what’s usually referred to as “crowdsourced data,” helps gather up-to-date information from all over the country from drivers who cover these routes on a day-to-day basis.

To find out exactly how accurate Tesla Navigation Trip planner is, check out this related article that I wrote. I also discuss common problems with the planner and how to solve them.

Using Google Maps on a Tesla

Let’s face it: As impressive and innovative as most of Tesla’s features are, their navigation system leaves a lot to be desired. Even though no system in the market is 100% accurate, when compared to established giants like Google Maps, Tesla’s version comes up short.

Their navigation system doesn’t even give the most accurate charging point suggestions, which is the least you could expect driving the most popular electric vehicle of all time. Moreover, their technology doesn’t allow for accurate information on what lane you need to be in, not to mention that some of the data you’ll find in the system can be outdated.

So is it really better to use Google Maps than Tesla’s own navigation system? Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a bit for an answer on this one. (See: Tesla Navigation vs. Google Maps)

While there are a few ways to use Google Maps on a Tesla, this is the easiest approach (applicable to all Tesla models):

  1. Open the Google Maps app on your smartphone.
  2. Choose your destination.
  3. Tap the “Share” button.
  4. Choose the “Tesla” option that appears. This will only happen if you already have the Tesla app installed on your phone.
  5. Pick the specific Tesla you want to send the information to (if you’ve got more than one in the garage).
  6. Follow Google Maps’ directions.

If you’re still unsure how this process works, check out this video by Alex Venz, taking you through it step by step.

If you would like to use Google Maps on the Tesla onboard screen/computer, you can also do it by using the following two ways:

  1. You can search for a location on Google Maps (on your smartphone) and share the location to your Tesla.
  2. You can use the TeslaAA website from the car’s browser which will run just like any other Android Auto unit, letting you run Google Maps.

As you can see, while sharing a location from your phone to your Tesla isn’t that big of a deal, you’ll still have to go through several more steps than if you were to use Tesla’s own navigation system.

Even though, as I mentioned, this system is based on Google Maps, the company still wants you to use their version instead of the OG. 

Another easy way to use Google Maps when driving a Tesla (also applicable to all models) is to use the onboard computer and screen. You can do so by simply opening the Google Maps website, inputting your destination, and following the directions.

However, while this approach is easier, it can be buggier than the share-location-from-smartphone approach.

First of all, the app is known to run more smoothly than its website counterpart. Secondly, using Google Maps through your onboard screen can sometimes interfere with Tesla’s autopilot. Therefore, if possible, I always recommend going for the smartphone approach instead.

Downsides to Using Google Maps on a Tesla

Using Google Maps on a Tesla isn’t always as easy as it seems. Not only is the app far less compatible with your vehicle with Tesla’s navigation system, but you’ll also be reliant on several external factors when using Google Map’s data.

You’ll have to worry about updating two different software religiously, and you’ll also have to check the connection quality between the two devices.

Moreover, Tesla owners have expressed that there have been a few bugs and technical issues that have gotten in the way of them using Google Maps on their vehicles.

Fun Fact

Throughout the years, Google Maps has collected more than 20 petabytes of data (or 20,000,000,000 megabytes). To put this into perspective, the Milky Way comprises roughly 250 billion stars (an average of the estimated range of 100 billion to 400 billion). If each star were an individual byte, you would need 80,000 Milky Ways to reach this quantity of data.

According to this thread on Tesla Motors Club, users have found it challenging to run Google Maps on their Android smartphones after the 2021.36.5.5 update. As a result, they haven’t been able to share any of the app’s destinations to their Tesla either.

The same thread makes it seem like many Android users have gone through a similar experience, which is something to consider if you’re one yourself. 

As I said, what’s inconvenient about having to rely on your smartphone to get your navigation data is that the slightest bug could ruin an entire trip. What’s even worse is that while some devices are only going through a temporary bug or issue, others (like the Pixel 2XL) are no longer receiving software updates at all.

If this is the case with your phone, you’ll see a “Failed to open map for directions” message pop up as soon as you try to open the app to share your desired destination.

But don’t panic just yet. Before coming to the conclusion that your phone isn’t working as it should and tossing it away, here are a few tips you might want to try that may resolve the issue:

  • Delete all of your existing caches.
  • Delete the Google Maps app and re-install it.
  • Restart your phone.

If none of these solutions seem to work, I’m afraid you either have to pay to have your smartphone serviced, replace it altogether, or go back to using Tesla’s own navigation system. 

As you can see, using Google Maps isn’t all rainbows and butterflies either, as your vehicle was literally designed to work better with its own navigation system. Choosing the right navigation system could make a world of difference when finding your destination on time versus taking seven wrong turns and falsely stopping three times beforehand.

Therefore, there are a few factors you’ll want to keep in mind when weighing Google Maps and Tesla’s Navigation System against each other.

Random Stat: Tesla Model 3 is the best-selling electric vehicle in the world, with 501,000 units sold (as of 2021). Tesla Model Y comes in third at 411,000 units sold. Luckily, it’s possible to use Google Maps on a Tesla, even though doing so isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

Tesla Navigation vs. Google Maps

When it comes to the question, “Which is better: Tesla Navigation or Google Maps?” there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. For this reason, I’ll be taking you through each system’s pros and cons in hopes of helping you better understand which one will get you where you want to on time.

If you don’t feel like going through these long paragraphs, I suggest you jump right to the table found at the end of this section. There, you’ll find the summarized version of the information I’m about to take you through.

I want to start by saying that both systems are excellent navigational tools in their own right, although they also come with their own set of disadvantages. Both platforms display their routing on Google Maps, meaning that if you’re a fan of the display, you’ll be happy either way. 

However, when it comes to turn-by-turn guidance, Google continues to utilize its own data while Tesla outsources their information from third-party services. 

Tesla’s Advantages

Tesla’s navigation system is designed with EV owners in mind, while Google Maps is built to serve a much more general purpose. For example, Tesla includes vehicle charging data in its navigational system, a feature that its competitor lacks.

Even though Tesla doesn’t always provide the most accurate charging point suggestions, its navigation system is still far superior to Google’s when allowing EV owners to find nearby stations as quickly as possible. 

As a system built specifically for your vehicle, Tesla Navigation is more compatible and in tune with its other features. For example, if the system notices you’re driving first and using more charge, it will automatically update the charging point suggestions for you.

Pro Tip: Can you change Tesla map modes?

You might think that the functionality to switch Map Modes is no longer available when repeatedly clicking on the icon on the right edge of the map. But you can still change Map Modes just by touching anywhere on the map. It will then appear in the turn-by-turn directions in the far upper left corner of that area. Map Mode will also appear if you pull down on the Turn-by-turn direction area. Simply touch to toggle between the modes. Map Mode 1 – Always North Up. Map Mode 2 – Heading Up. Map Mode 3 – Route Overview Mode.

Google Map’s Advantages

While all of the above features are undoubtedly a huge advantage for Tesla, there’s still one big drawback that keeps Tesla owners from committing to the in-built navigation system 100%: It doesn’t support waypoints.

As a result, the system doesn’t give you accurate information on the exact lane you’re in or need to be taking, which can make an already confusing situation much worse.

This drawback can be especially hard to get over by those Tesla owners who have grown to rely on Google’s highly accurate directions throughout the year.

Even though there’s no official research on this, in my opinion, this is the #1 reason Tesla owners hesitate to retire Google Maps altogether.

Based on anecdotal evidence from reading through countless forums and talking to Tesla owners, I’d say that Google Maps is a bit more accurate overall. Moreover, when inputting the same destination on both systems, Maps’ route sometimes seems to be a bit quicker compared to Tesla’s. This is especially common when it comes to shorter travel distances.

When inputting an hour-long trip, chances are both systems will show the same route and suggestions. However, you’ll notice that once you approach your destination, Google will start making adjustments based on traffic conditions, whereas Tesla’s directions will remain the same.

As a result, as far as shorter distances go, you’re usually better off using Google Maps, as its navigation data is updated in real-time. Following the same logic, if you expect to encounter heavy traffic along the way, go for Google Maps, as it’ll make better real-time suggestions.

However, if you’re off on a day-long road trip, using Google Maps all the way is both a waste of energy and time. In this instance, it’s better to start the ride using Tesla’s navigation system and then switch to Google’s as you approach your destination.

Keep in mind that Google Maps isn’t the only third-party navigation system you can use on a Tesla. Waze, for example, is another extremely popular navigation app that has gained a lot of success through its driver-focused approach.

Anyway, speaking of which, check out this related article that I wrote called: “Can You Use Waze in a Tesla?” It might help you further.

Unlike Maps, Waze was designed with car owners in mind, and as a result, the quality of voice directions it provides is unparalleled. However, Google Maps still has the edge when it comes to accuracy and real-time suggestions.

Tesla Navigation vs Google Maps: Comparison Table

Tesla Navigation ProsTesla Navigation ConsGoogle Maps ProsGoogle Maps Cons
Accepts voice inputNavigation data is less frequently updatedAccepts voice inputDoesn’t include vehicle charging data
Excellent displayDoesn’t support WaypointsExcellent displayMore difficult to use on a Tesla
Includes vehicle charging dataNavigation data is updated in real-time
More compatible and in-tune with Tesla’s other featuresSupports Waypoints
Faster routes
Pros and cons comparison table: Tesla Navigation vs. Google Maps

You can also check out this related article that I wrote about changing the voice on Tesla navigation, and what it entails. Can you use other apps to play your preferred voice over the Tesla speakers?

Best Features of Tesla’s Navigation System

If, after comparing each alternative’s advantages and disadvantages, you’ve decided to stick to Tesla’s built-in navigation system, you’re in for a treat. Tesla’s innovation and pattern of exciting features are evident even in their navigation system, even if it’s still not as perfect as any of us would’ve liked.

These are some of the most exciting features of Tesla’s navigation system:

  • Automatic Navigation. Automatic Navigation is a feature that can predict the destination you’ll be driving to without you having to input it into the system. This feature isn’t available on all regions and configurations yet, but if your vehicle is synced to your phone’s calendar and you have an event coming up that takes place in a specific location, Automatic Navigation suggests said location automatically.
  • I’m feeling hungry/ lucky. If you have a Model S, you’ll find two tabs on the navigation bar labeled “I’m feeling hungry” and “I’m feeling lucky.” Tapping the former will prompt the system to suggest nearby restaurants while tapping the latter will display some of the most popular attractions.
  • Trip planner. When on longer journeys, this feature will not only select the fastest route but will also provide you with charging time suggestions to help make the road trip as time- and cost-efficient as possible.

Did You Know?

The “I’m feeling lucky” feature was introduced after a Tesla owner suggested it to Elon Musk on Twitter. Now that Musk has officially acquired Twitter, it may be easier to contact him for other things you want on your Tesla, as well as other things you want from Musk’s other properties. (Or not.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Google Maps Interfere With Tesla’s Autopilot?

Google Maps doesn’t interfere with Tesla’s autopilot as long as you share a destination via your phone. Tesla Navigation is based on Google Maps’ satellite images, so you should have no issues when using autopilot and Maps simultaneously in this instance.

How Accurate Is Tesla Navigation?

Tesla Navigation is not 100% accurate, though it is still highly useful. Tesla’s navigation system does not tell you what lane you need to be in, does not give the most accurate charging point suggestions, and shows outdated exit numbers.

How Does Tesla’s Navigation System Work, and Which Data Sources Does It Rely On?

Tesla’s navigation system operates by amalgamating data from several third-party services to provide accurate guidance. Although the visual map interface is primarily sourced from Google Maps, the navigation data is acquired from various external suppliers, including long-term collaborator Mapbox.

Additionally, Tesla has started harnessing its own “crowdsourced data” from its fleet of vehicles, which helps in gathering real-time information from drivers across the country. So “Tesla Google Maps” is slightly improved over the regular Google Maps.

Can I Utilize Google Maps on My Tesla’s Onboard Screen?

You can access Google Maps on your Tesla’s onboard screen through a couple of methods. One approach is to share a location from your smartphone to your Tesla. Alternatively, you can use the Tesla browser to access Google Maps, although this method might not be as seamless as the former.

What Are the Drawbacks of Employing Google Maps on a Tesla?

Using Google Maps on your Tesla can introduce certain challenges. It may not be as compatible with your vehicle’s systems as Tesla’s native navigation, necessitating updates for both the Tesla and Google Maps apps. Moreover, there is a risk of encountering technical bugs that can disrupt your navigation experience.

Does Google Maps Support Waypoints for Multiple Destinations on Tesla?

Google Maps does not support waypoints when used on Tesla’s navigation system. This limitation can be especially inconvenient when planning routes with multiple stops and when requiring precise lane guidance.

Is Tesla’s Navigation System More Accurate Than Google Maps?

While Tesla’s navigation system excels in some aspects when comparing Tesla maps vs Google maps, such as providing specialized data for electric vehicles, Google Maps is generally considered more accurate overall. It offers superior real-time traffic updates and tends to perform better for shorter trips.

How Does Tesla’s Automatic Navigation Feature Function?

Tesla’s Automatic Navigation feature operates by predicting your destination based on events synced to your calendar. If you have an upcoming event in your calendar with a specific location, Tesla’s navigation system will automatically suggest that location, simplifying trip planning.

What Do the “I’m Feeling Hungry” and “I’m Feeling Lucky” Tabs on Tesla’s Navigation Bar Offer?

These tabs, found exclusively in Tesla’s Model S, provide added convenience during your journeys. “I’m Feeling Hungry” suggests nearby dining options, while “I’m Feeling Lucky” displays popular attractions in your vicinity, making impromptu exploration more accessible.

How Does Tesla’s Trip Planner Feature Enhance Longer Journeys?

Tesla’s Trip Planner goes beyond merely selecting the quickest route for your journey. It also offers invaluable charging time recommendations, allowing you to optimize your long road trips for both time and cost efficiency.

Does Using Google Maps Interfere With Tesla’s Autopilot?

Utilizing Google Maps via your smartphone does not interfere with Tesla’s Autopilot functionality. Since Tesla’s navigation system relies on Google Maps’ satellite images, you can comfortably use both Autopilot and Google Maps simultaneously without any disruptions.

Check out these 20 great gift ideas for yourself or a Tesla fanboy.

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Do Teslas Use Google Maps? Tesla Navigation vs. Google Maps 2
Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

A renowned Tesla enthusiast, and successful entrepreneur, enlightens global audiences through his compelling EV narratives. Discover more about his electric journey on his About Me page. Venture to read Erwin's incredible story that's reshaping the future of motoring. Want to spark a conversation with Erwin? Visit his Contact page, and let’s electrify the world together.