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Automotive News: EV drivers struggle with declining reliability of charging network

666 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  fhteagle
Looks like EV charging is becoming more and more unreliable in a JD Power evaluation. Almost 1/5 EV charging attempts failed. But of course "one operator" has a very very very good successful charging rate. I wonder which one it is haha. But to get the name of the one operator, you'll have to pay JD Power.

This goes to show someone relying on a stress-free reliable experience getting juice on the road may not be able to live with a non-Tesla. Or, you just need to be a fleet operator and equip your own chargers at key waypoints instead of relying on public chargers.

EV drivers struggle with declining reliability of charging network

The reliability of the electric vehicle charging network is getting worse with at least 1 in 5 charging attempts by drivers failing last year.

Widespread problems are occurring as EV adoption grows at twice the rate of charger installation and the industry and government plan to invest billions of dollars into charging infrastructure. Many charging stations are aging, lack routine maintenance and face software hiccups.

The number of failed charging attempts climbed steadily from 15 percent in the first quarter of 2021 to 20 percent in the first quarter of 2022 and rose to more than 21 percent by the third quarter, according to J.D. Power's Electric Vehicle Experience Public Charging Study released Wednesday.

Satisfaction with Level 2 chargers and Level 3 chargers hit its lowest point in the third quarter since J.D. Power began its EV public charging study in 2021. A Level 2 charger powers an EV in five to six hours. Level 2 chargers are often installed at home, work or public shopping centers, where vehicles are parked for a significant amount of time. Level 3 chargers require a much larger grid connection and take 15 to 20 minutes to refill most of an EV's charge.

The federal government, states and industry stakeholders have committed billions of dollars to expand EV charging infrastructure across the U.S., but if chargers fail, that investment could be in vain. "We can't add new chargers and let all those old ones fall into a state of disrepair," said Brent Gruber, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power. "We have to manage the maintenance of those as well because that's the only way we're going to meet the consumer demand."

Charging companies and regulators are taking steps to improve reliability. Still, it's too soon to say whether their efforts will be enough.

The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program alone sets aside $5 billion through 2026 to help states achieve President Joe Biden's goal of 500,000 EV charging stations across the U.S. by 2030. Others will add to that investment tally.

Failure rates

Charger outage rates varied broadly by operator, Gruber said. One had almost no charger downtime – just 3 percent. Drivers failed to charge at nearly 2 in 5 visits, or 39 percent, at the most problematic last year.

J.D. Power declined to make public which networks had the best and worst reliability records. Its study included more than 26,500 charging attempts at Level 2 and Level 3 chargers in all 50 states. The reasons for failed charging sessions range from software glitches to payment processing errors to vandalism.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents who were unable to charge their vehicle last year said they couldn't charge because the charger was out of service. Companies are failing to act quickly, said Ben Shapiro, a manager at RMI, a clean energy nonprofit.

"It might be a pretty minor issue, but they need somebody to come out and fix it… and they don't do that for 24, 48 hours," he said.
Tesla's Supercharger network tends to have better charger uptime than peers. Fewer Tesla drivers face charger outages and, if a charger is down, the driver typically finds a working charger at the same location, Gruber said.

EV charging company EVgo launched EVgo Renew this year to better handle its charger issues. The company plans to replace, upgrade or retire hundreds of chargers this year. It upgraded, replaced or removed 125 chargers during the first nine months of last year.

Many EVgo charging stations are a decade old, said Jonathan Levy, EVgo's chief commercial officer. Most issues are reported by drivers who are using EVgo's charger for the first time, he said.

EVgo realized it must improve education and reliability. Today, it has 17 error codes. Just two years ago, EVgo used only one error code for a failed charging situation.
"If the customer didn't plug it in all the way or the charger was broken or the car was communicating poorly, it would just say connection error," Levy said. "That's not particularly useful to the driver and it's actually not that useful to us in terms of fixing a problem."

Level 2 charging satisfaction improved in the fourth quarter from the third quarter, largely because charger conditions had improved and the cost of charging had decreased, according to J.D. Power.

"Many network operators are starting to upgrade existing Level 2 chargers, so those efforts are starting to show, at least from a physical condition standpoint," Gruber said.

Uptime legislation

Charging companies must improve uptime to meet upcoming regulations. The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program includes data collection requirements to track EV charger reliability. Various states have also taken steps to track reliability and uptime.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the EV Charging Reliability Transparency Act in September. It requires the establishment of uptime and reporting standards for EV charging stations by Jan. 1, 2024. It also compels the California Energy Commission to evaluate charging station infrastructure every two years beginning Jan. 1, 2025.
Flo and ChargerHelp! supported the legislation. Flo has presented its formula for measuring station uptime and reliability with the California Energy Commission.

"There's been no widespread, established standard on how do we measure reliability. What level of reliability is good enough for drivers to make them happy and give them a good charging experience?" said Cory Bullis, public affairs director at Flo.

Co-authors and Californiaassembly members Phil Ting and Eloise Gomez Reyes are pushing the Energy Commission to require chargers to meet 97 percent uptime. They also suggest strictly limiting allowable uptime exclusions, such as vandalism and infrastructure failures.

They suggest inspections and required reporting for all chargers, including those installed before January 2024 and those that are not publicly funded. The original bill covers publicly funded chargers installed on or after Jan. 1, 2024.

In a Jan. 17 response to Ting and Reyes, Hannon Rasool, director of the California Energy Commission's Fuels and Transportation Division, agreed that EV chargers should maintain high uptime to be considered reliable.

Stakeholders, including Flo, ChargerHelp!, EVgo, ChargePoint, Electrify America, Blink, Plug In America, Rivian, Tesla and General Motors, have provided California with comments on measuring uptime and ensuring charger reliability.

Legal requirements are imperative for a reliable network, said RMI's Shapiro. Failing to resolve charging woes could put the growth of the EV market at risk, he said.
"One of the sharpest tools we have in this space is through thoughtful design of public funding allocations to produce the results we need," Shapiro said.
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Yep. OEMs need to get out in front of this. Might not need to mean duplicating the Supercharger network for every single brand. But it at least means fixing the design problems with the CCS physical handle fit and weight, comm glitches, etc. SAE run compatibility testing lab maybe? I know the charging network operators have been running such a lab themselves, but clearly things are slipping through those tests.

I really wish Tesla and SAE could have worked out a deal to use the Tesla connector a decade ago. Greed and ego then are hurting customer experience in both sides of the fence now.
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