Better EV Chargers in U.S., But Still Too Few

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Better EV Chargers in U.S., But Still Too Few

Recent data highlighted by Automotive News from J.D. Power’s charging satisfaction survey reveals that public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the United States are seeing enhanced reliability. Despite these gains, the availability of charging infrastructure still requires significant improvements.

In the last quarter of the previous year, the rate of unsuccessful charging attempts at public stations dropped to 18%, marking a three-point enhancement over the earlier nine months. The primary issues for EV drivers at public charging stations are malfunctions and outages, which accounted for 71% of the unsuccessful attempts.

When users encounter a “failed visit,” it means they could not charge their EV due to various factors, such as the charging station being out of service or excessive wait times. These reasons alone constituted 20% of the failed attempts in the fourth quarter of 2023.

In an in-depth look at the state of electric vehicle (EV) charging in the U.S., a recent survey by J.D. Power has shed light on specific challenges facing both DC fast chargers and Level 2 charging stations. Notably, Level 2 chargers, commonly found at destinations like restaurants, hotels, and malls, have seen a significant decline in user satisfaction. According to J.D. Power, satisfaction with these units plummeted by 28 points in the fourth quarter, compared to the same timeframe in 2022.

Despite efforts to expand the fast-charging network, the growth hasn’t kept pace with increasing demand. Data from the Department of Energy reveals that last year, the availability of DC fast-charging ports grew by 31%, while public Level 2 charging ports saw a 13% increase. This discrepancy points to a burgeoning need for more rapid expansion to meet the needs of EV drivers.

ChargePoint, a leading network, experienced a 39% surge in public charging sessions in 2023. However, the growth in the number of ports available lagged, with only an 18% increase. This mismatch between usage and infrastructure development highlights the urgent need for continued investment and improvement in the EV charging ecosystem.

Brent Gruber, the executive director of J.D. Power’s EV practice, voiced significant concerns regarding the current state of EV charging infrastructure, particularly the Level 2 chargers. He pointed out a notable disconnect between the investment in DC fast-charging stations and the upkeep and expansion of Level 2 charging facilities. “This really speaks to how Level 2 in particular is not keeping up with consumer demand,” Gruber remarked. His worry stems from the observation that despite the heavy utilization of Level 2 chargers, their development seems to be overshadowed by the focus on DC fast-charging infrastructure, leading to a significant decline in user satisfaction with Level 2 services.

DC fast chargers, capable of recharging an EV’s battery in roughly 20 minutes and typically found along highways, contrast with Level 2 chargers that require several hours for a full charge, often installed at locations where cars can be parked for extended periods.

In the realm of charging networks, the Tesla Supercharger network was recognized as the top performer in the DC fast charger category in the latest J.D. Power EVX study. For Level 2 charging, Volta emerged as the leader, with Tesla’s Destination chargers closely following, showcasing the competitive landscape of EV charging solutions.

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