The inspiration for this story, along with its title, comes from Kyle Conner of Out of Spec Reviews. If you are an EV fan, you probably already know Kyle. No organization tests more EVs than Out of Spec, and no journalist I know has a deeper understanding of the current state of EVs and living electric than Kyle does.
Related Story: Electric Vehicle Charging Is a Confusing Mess For New EV Owners
Charging Is Getting Worse, Not Better
Kyle isn’t “local.” Out of Spec Studios constantly travels worldwide to test EVs, visit manufacturing locations, and attend EV-focused events. Out of Spec is global, and its team is based in the wide-open West in Fort Collins, Colorado. Kyle and his rapidly-growing team travel from one metropolitan area to another almost non-stop, and they report on the state of charging daily. During a recent trip in California, Kyle reported, “One thing is clear; we are past the golden age of EVs in America for road trips. Stations are failing left and right, and there are many new EVs on the road needing to charge, with nearly no added infrastructure in the last year or so.”
Kyle goes on to say, “Electrify America has just launched a brand new charging unit promising to be powerful and reliable, and I had my chance at trying it for the first time today. It didn’t work. I had to switch to another one.”
In an upcoming video, Kyle will report on his most recent Supercharger visit. Kyle owns two Teslas and uses them as his daily drivers. At a 40-stall Supercharger he used this week in California, every charger was occupied, with his own being number 40. As an EV advocate, Kyle looks forward to the days to come when Tesla will open its Supercharger network to owners of CCS-charger-equipped models from other brands but wonders how already crowded Superchargers will keep pace. Folks in some states like California may be accustomed to seeing Superchargers, but other states have almost none. There is one in Rhode Island. Just five in Vermont.
It’s Not One EV Expert Who Sees The Problem
Another respected source for EV information is Transportation Evolved. In a recent quick post on Youtube, the team titled their post “The Coming S... Storm.” The post relates to Electrify America’s plan to replace broken chargers. The team isn’t thrilled with the plan, or the current state of charger reliability. The post prior to this was titled, “EVs are going Mainstream Are We Ready?” The answer is shown in the title pane, which displays, “We’re Not Ready.” Host of the post, Kate, makes many great points in the video. It's well worth watching..
The Charging Business Is Not Profitable
Kyle points to the fact that EV fast charging is not profitable as the main reason that EV stations are not better maintained and more numerous. After all, it’s hard to compete with Electrify America, who is in the business by way of VW’s government-mandated punishment. Would you like to jump into a business so bad companies that are caught violating the Clean Air Act on a massive scale are offered it as an alternative to bankruptcy and jail?
The Electric Vehicle FUD Conspiracy By…Everyone?
Maybe this news of the sad state of the charging network is just a conspiracy. If it is, count The New York Times among the conspirators. This past month, the gray lady published a story titled, A Frustrating Hassle Holding Electric Cars Back: Broken Chargers. The story includes the quote, “... about a quarter of the public charging outlets in the San Francisco Bay Area, where electric cars are commonplace, were not working.”
Still not convinced that the good ole’ days may be coming to an end? Here is a selection of posts on this topic:
Elektrek - Tesla dominates charging experience satisfaction, and that’s a problem now that it’s going public
Green Car Reports - California Study of Fast Chargers Finds Poor Reliability, Many "Not Functioning"
How Many EV Stations Do You Own, Operate, and Maintain?
Many EV publications and experts lament the sad state of affairs of the charging network, but I’m unaware of any that own and operate a nationwide DC fast charging business. It seems we must wait for “someone else” to solve the problem. Someone like Kameale C. Terry and Evette Ellis, founders of ChargerHelp! They melded the need for more skilled job training with the need for a more reliable charging network and built a business.
More EVs Means More Types of Owners
A lot of the next wave of EV owners are also going to need to charge someplace aside from home. Today, most EV owners charge at home most of the time. That cannot continue as buyers who don’t own a home start to make up a larger percentage of EV owners. Sharing the slow Level 2 charger behind the public library isn’t going to cut it for everyone in apartments, condos, and multifamily homes without a practical way to charge where they park. The current practice of installing two Level 2 chargers in a parking lot holding hundreds of vehicles is not a way to solve the growing problem.
Related Story: $39,974 Ford F-150 Lightning - Can It Really Cost So Little?
Where Are the Affordable EVs?
Daily announcements and advertisements hitting us about the face and neck from all sides telling us about great new affordable EVs, but where are they? The new Chevy Equinox EV is years from delivery. The Ford F-150 Lightning is off the market. Pretty much every EV in America not made by Tesla are delivered at ridiculously low volumes, around 3,000 units per month or less. This rate of delivery has not changed in more than a decade. Affordable EVs are delivered at about one-fifth to one-fifteenth the volume of a mainstream affordable model like a Camry or Accord. For nearly every automaker who makes affordable EVs, the electric models are among the lowest-volume models in the brands' portfolios.
The EV Charging Problem Didn't Happen Overnight
Another pro-EV publication we follow is The Fast Lane Cars. TFL isn't only an EV publication, but the folks there are Tesla owners, have owned other EVs, and test EVs regularly. Two years ago, TFL sounded the alarm in a post showing just how challenging charging an EV can be. Read our own story about why stopping for power at a public Level 2 charger while on the go is a waste of time.
Will Charging At Home Be an Option When Everyone Has an EV?
The EV movement is far from dead. Quite the contrary, now that our nation’s capital, California, has decided we will all drive EVs or walk by 2035, we really do need to get in line and follow the plan. Pay no mind to the utilities in the state leading the way on EVs asking EV owners not to charge or those blackouts everyone swears didn't happen.
Tell us in the comments below which affordable EV you plan to purchase next and how you will keep it charged.
EV charging image courtesy of Electrify America.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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