Frustrations of an EV Owner: Nearly Half of Visited Public Chargers Unusable

The allure of owning an electric vehicle (EV) initially sparkles with the promise of a seamless, futuristic drive, cruising guilt-free through cityscapes while championing environmental change. 

Yet, this vision can swiftly veer off course into an unexpected pit stop—an anxiety-ridden moment as your car's battery gauge plummets toward zero. 

Frantically scouring for a functional public charger, the grim reality dawns: U.S. charging stations aren't primed for the spotlight they were meant to embrace.

This was the reality of Joanna Stern from The Wall Street Journal. She set out on a journey in her electric vehicle and found that nearly half of the charging stations she visited were unusable in Los Angeles. 

The Reality of EV Charging Infrastructure 

Stern's journey led her to 30 non-Tesla fast-charging stations in the supposed EV utopia of L.A. She found that at least 40% of these rapid-charge public stations had broken chargers, payment rejections, software issues, and dead screens. The failures of the U.S. charging stations are just one of the many roadblocks that are halting the smooth transition to electrified transportation

Three Frustrations Uncovered

First, Stern found that 27% of the Level 3 chargers she tested were out of service. They either had dead screens or frustrating error messages that prevented their use. Most of the time, the issues that she found could have been solved by a technician resetting the unit. But when you're staring at the screen with a battery going downhill, the unit is useless. 

The second frustration that she encountered was frequent payment rejection. She found that almost 10% of functioning chargers refused to accept credit cards for whatever reason. 

The third and final issue was a technical issue between the car and charger– often termed the “handshake.” A failed handshake means that there is a software update or compatibility issue between the E.V. model and the charger, making some stations unresponsive to the vehicle requiring the driver to begin the whole charging process again. 

Sadly, these issues are not isolated to L.A. as a study in the Bay Area showed that over 22% of plugs malfunctioned, mirroring the overall failure in public charging station reliability and functionality.