Pulled into the Catonsville, MD EVgo this morning hoping for a bit of a top-up to enable a stress-free round trip from WV to Baltimore. My arrival made it 4 Bolts lined up for a charge at the pathetically under-equipped location (didn't think to take a picture). One was using the lone DCFC, another (a Lyft driver) was waiting for it, and the third was hooked up to the L2.
We have some charging locations like that in California. They are typically at high-traffic or make-or-break locations (i.e., the only DCFC site connecting different regions). EVgo has been doing an okay job of expanding those sites, but it's slow going.
Apparently the company doesn't monitor its equipment and relies on us to report outages. This was an all around disappointing experience. EVgo really needs to add more DCFC units to its existing locations and figure out some way to make sure they are operative.
I'm not sure why they aren't getting that information. It's definitely something that EVgo should consider. So should Electrify America. When their networks get big enough (they really are already), these public charging providers should have a full-time employee whose job it is to systematically review their chargers for issues. Really, it shouldn't be hard for the chargers themselves to trigger an error, but right now, it seems like no news is good news for these providers.
When I was speaking with an Electrify America representative, he was able to tell what chargers were down, but only after he opened the site and started bringing up the individual chargers. So they either need someone proactively seeking out issues, or they need a system that automatically issues a ticket if any error occurs or a charger hasn't been used in X days.
Even in California, there are gaps in certain areas that make travel difficult.
Without a doubt, the non-Tesla charging network has gaps in its coverage and adequacy of availability, although if Tesla builds Model 3s in the volume like they say, the days of empty spots might soon go away!
Believe it or not, even California still has gaps that make it difficult for Tesla EV owners, though Tesla does have plans to build Superchargers in those areas (I believe by the end of this year).
To be fair, public charging providers also have plans for most of the gaps in California (but not all, from what I've seen), and it looks like they've learned their lesson. If you look at most of the original plans for the California Energy Commission (CEC) grant-funded sites, they were only listing one or two DCFC per location. It appears that ChargePoint, EVgo, and Recargo have all increased that to a minimum of three to four chargers per site.
That's still not as impressive as Tesla's larger, 20 to 40 stall sites, but outside of extremely high-demand locations, I'm not sure that those "megasites" are necessary. And even if you did need 40+ chargers along a route, I don't like the idea of having so many at a single site. Based on my experiences traveling (and the ever increasing number of other long-range EVs on the roads), I think the magic number for chargers per site is somewhere between six and twelve. After that point, rather than adding more chargers at that site, you would create far more value by adding another six to twelve charger site up or down the road a few miles.