Charging an electric car

A new California Berkeley study examining the efficacy of EV fast-chargers in California has highlighted some “serious reliability issues” for the nation’s charging infrastructure. To get an accurate picture of California’s charging network, the study looked at 181 DC fast-charging sites in the greater Bay Area, which included 657 individual chargers. Despite charging networks reporting a 95 per cent to 98 per cent efficacy rate, the study revealed that only 72.5 per cent of the chargers were functional at the time of the review.

Digging deeper into the study, we can see that 22.7 per cent of ‘non-functional’ cases were due to unresponsive or unavailable touchscreens, payment system failures, charge initiation failures, network failures or broken connectors. In 4.9 per cent of cases, the charge cable was simply too short to reach the EV’s charge port.

While it may be argued that the study was conducted at a bad time, a random sampling of 10 per cent of the chargers surveyed taken eight days following the completion of the initial survey indicated that there was “no overall change in functionality.”

This study is of particular interest to EV owners, as well as government officials and industry stakeholders around the globe who have a vested interest in the global shift to battery-powered vehicles. Understandably, many consumers still exhibit skepticism in regards to the convenience and feasibility of EVs, especially due to the limited availability or perceived efficacy of EV charging stations in select areas, including major Canadian cities like Toronto.

Beyond the introduction of new charging stations, industry stakeholders still have their work cut out for them when ensuring that existing networks are well maintained and functioning as intended. In fact, several studies to date – including this recent study from JD Power – have indicated that public charging networks have a long way to go before wholly satisfying the needs of EV drivers. Notably, Tesla’s Supercharger network often leads the pack in terms of customer experience, while Electrify America recently topped another user experience survey.

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