Nature

Electric vehicle owners are tired of broken EV chargers and janky software


A common complaint you hear from EV owners is about the dire state of public EV charging: broken chargers, janky software, broken screens. But much of this is anecdotal, and it can be difficult to find rigorous studies that capture the current state of electric vehicle charging in the United States.

JD Power surveyed 11,554 electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid vehicle owners from January through June 2022 as part of its second annual Public Charging EV Experience Study. Despite strong growth in the number of public EV chargers in the United States, EV owners say the overall experience still sucks.

The consumer research firm measured customer satisfaction with electric vehicle charging on a 1,000-point scale. According to respondents, charging on a public Level 2 charger is worse than last year, with satisfaction dropping from 643 to 633 in 2021. Meanwhile, satisfaction with the DC fast charger segment (direct current ) faster remains stable at 674.

“Not only does the availability of public charging remain a barrier, but electric vehicle owners continue to face unusable charging station equipment,” said Brent Gruber, executive director of global automotive at JD Power, in a press release.

Finding a public charger has never been easier, but finding one that works is still a serious problem. According to the survey, one in five respondents ended up not charging their vehicle after finding a public charger. And of those who did not charge, 72% said it was because the station malfunctioned or went out of service.

There are approximately 41,000 public charging stations in the United States, with over 100,000 outlets. Of course, public chargers are only half of the equation. Most EV owners charge overnight when parked in their driveway at home. But if electric vehicles are to become a more attractive option for car buyers, charging stations will have to become more ubiquitous and reliable, like gas stations.

Unsurprisingly, Tesla ranks near the top for customer satisfaction, with its Level 2 Destination wall chargers (most often found in parking lots or hotels) ranking first with a score of 680. out of 1,000. Tesla’s Supercharger network also ranks first among DC fast chargers, with a score of 739.

Experts say Tesla’s network generally works so well because it’s designed to work only for the company’s own electric vehicles. Tesla uses a proprietary connector in North America, so non-Tesla vehicles here will need an adapter to access the company’s superchargers, of which there are more than 6,798 outlets in the United States, according to the Department of Health. Energy. (The company says it has 35,000 Supercharger outlets worldwide.) In comparison, other public charging networks have to work for many different EV brands. Tesla is expected to start opening its chargers to non-Tesla electric vehicles from the end of this year.

Other electric vehicle charging companies received less favorable ratings from vehicle owners. Among Tier 2 charging providers, customers ranked Volta (667) second behind Tesla, ChargePoint (639) third, SemaConnect (557) fourth and Blink (560) fifth. Customers ranked DC fast charging companies in the order of ChargePoint (644), Electrify America (614), and EVgo (573).

There is a glimmer of hope that electric vehicle charging is about to get better. The Biden administration was able to secure $5 billion in funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure as part of its infrastructure plan that was signed into law late last year. Most of the money will be directed to states to create a network of electric vehicle charging stations along designated “alternative fuel corridors,” defined as approximately 165,722 miles of the national highway system, spanning 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The administration also released new standards aimed at helping speed the installation of new charging stations. These standards give states guidelines on awarding contracts for electric vehicle charging projects, incentivizing companies that win them to build chargers that are convenient, affordable, and accessible to as many people as possible. With the money also comes a requirement that chargers must operate nearly 100% of the time and meet technical standards for communication with vehicles.


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