Everything a Electric vehicle owner needs for EV fast-charging

Electric vehicle (EV) owners are generally satisfied with their cars, with surveys showing that the majority of EV owners plan to purchase another electric vehicle for their next car. However, one area that still needs improvement is fast charging.

Fast charging is crucial for EV owners who don’t have access to home chargers or for those planning road trips. While Tesla owners have access to the Supercharger network, non-Tesla EV owners often face a mixed experience when it comes to fast charging. This has been a personal observation as an EV owner since 2015, where the charging landscape has evolved significantly.

Recent experiences during the Fourth of July weekend highlighted the challenges with non-Tesla fast charging. Over a 350-mile round trip, encountering various EV charging issues left me deeply concerned about the state of fast charging infrastructure for non-Tesla EVs.

Before embarking on the trip, several charging locations were ruled out due to partial functionality. On the road, the first charger I tried malfunctioned shortly after plugging in. The next charger, although slower, failed to start because it recognized the previous broken charger as still active. Another location appeared to have two operational plugs, but one provided a slower charge rate compared to my home charger.

During this trip, I had to contact customer service multiple times. While they were helpful on one occasion, my experiences with Electrify America and ChargePoint, two prominent non-Tesla charging networks, were far from satisfactory. Similar surveys indicate that other non-Tesla networks might not offer significantly better experiences.

To accommodate the impending surge in EV adoption, the United States urgently needs to improve its charging infrastructure. EV drivers deserve a better VIP experience than what they currently encounter. Here, I present a “bill of rights” comprising seven crucial elements necessary to establish fast charging as a practical and reliable option for the general public.

Improved Reliability of Charging Equipment

Reliable charging equipment should be the bare minimum requirement for operating a charging network. Unfortunately, studies have shown that a significant portion of charging stations, especially those utilizing the Combined Charging System (CCS) in the San Francisco Bay Area, were non-functional. EV driver surveys also reveal that more than one-third of respondents have encountered broken charging hardware.

Based on personal experiences and anecdotal evidence, these figures are likely conservative. As the number of EVs on the road increases, public charging equipment experiences more wear and tear. Considering the already abysmal state of maintenance, it is reasonable to assume that conditions are deteriorating, especially along busy routes during holiday season or weekends when drivers have the least tolerance for charging problems.

Increased Number of Charging Stations

One way to alleviate the strain on existing charging infrastructure is to expand the number of charging stations. A denser network of charging stations, strategically placed at convenient locations, can help reduce congestion and wait times. This expansion should focus not only on urban areas but also on highways and rural regions to support long-distance travel and ensure comprehensive coverage.

Enhanced Charging Speeds

Improving charging speeds is another crucial factor for widespread adoption of fast charging. While 50 kW charging was once considered fast, it is now relatively slow compared to newer charging options. Increasing the power output of chargers to 100 kW, 150 kW, or even higher can significantly reduce charging times and make long-distance travel more feasible for EV owners.

Standardized Charging Connectors

Standardization of charging connectors is essential to enhance convenience and compatibility for EV owners. Currently, there are multiple connector types in use, such as CHAdeMO, CCS, and Tesla’s proprietary connector. This variation can lead to confusion and inconvenience, especially when traveling long distances or using different charging networks. A universal standard for charging connectors would simplify the charging process and ensure interoperability across different vehicles and charging stations.

Transparent and Up-to-Date Charging Information

To improve the overall charging experience, it is crucial to provide EV drivers with accurate and up-to-date information about charging station availability, charging speeds, and payment methods. This information should be easily accessible through mobile apps, online platforms, and in-car navigation systems. Real-time updates on station status, including outages or maintenance schedules, would help drivers plan their trips effectively and avoid unnecessary inconveniences.

Efficient Customer Support and Issue Resolution

Robust customer support services are vital to address any issues or concerns that EV owners may encounter while using fast charging networks. Dedicated support channels, responsive helplines, and knowledgeable staff can assist drivers in troubleshooting charging problems, reporting faulty stations, and resolving payment or account-related issues promptly. Prompt and efficient customer support can significantly enhance the overall charging experience and build trust among EV owners.

Collaboration and Investment in Charging Infrastructure

To achieve a reliable and widespread fast charging network, collaboration between government entities, charging network operators, and automakers is crucial. Government support in the form of funding, incentives, and regulatory frameworks can encourage investment in charging infrastructure. Charging network operators and automakers should work together to establish interoperability, develop advanced charging technologies, and continuously improve the overall charging experience for EV owners.

By addressing these seven key areas, the United States can significantly enhance its fast charging infrastructure and provide EV drivers with a reliable and convenient charging experience. A robust and accessible charging network is essential to support the growing adoption of electric vehicles and ensure a sustainable future of transportation.

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Stevie Flavio
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