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Discussion Starter #1
Text of my email to EA support after failed charge session today:

"Hello EA,

I would like a refund or account credit for this charging session:

The Jacksonville charging station, having been open for barely a week, is now almost completely down - Charger 01 has never been active, perhaps because no one at EA seems to be able to reliably figure out CHaDemo. Chargers 03 and 04 are energized but inaccessible from both within the app and tech support...AND they don't accept local payment via credit card...well-lit zombies, I guess.

Charger 02 is for some reason no one at EA can or will explain, limited to about 20 kW...I'm sorry, but that's NOT a fast charger...I can charge faster at the free-to-use 24/7 bulletproof ChargePoint KeyWatt DCFC 5 miles up the road.

This isn't about eighty two cents, but rather EA acknowledging that it is nowhere near ready for prime time, having erected a half million dollar piece of statuary or abstract art in suburban Jacksonville, complete with a 16 megaWatt (480 Volt / 2000 Amp) electrical service.

I would point out that the 300 kWh consumed by this EA station in its first week is about the same amount of energy my one single car charged from my lowly but reliable home charger during that same time.

Thank you for your kind attention to this latest failure in the real world."
 

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Thankfully I don't DCFC, because I'd just be lunar at stuff like this happening. My daily commute is below 200 miles. Actually, below 100.
 

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Zoom,

I think you're mostly missing the point. Nothing about Jax's post is about DCFC, daily commuting, or miles. It's solely about how Electrify America's DCFC installations have reliability issues.

You are right on the mark about frustration. But that frustration is even more dire than local commuting. That Jacksonville EA station is going to be an Electrify America hub tie in for both I-10 coming in from the west and I-95 in both directions. Once operating reliably it'll serve as an essential long distance travel connector in North Florida.

But in all honesty Jacksonville isn't a situation where there's only a single station for 100 miles in all directions. As Jax pointed out, there are two other stations within 3 miles of the EA station with the 24 kW Harley Davidson station currently offering free charging. There are 10 more DCFC stations in the greater Jacksonville area. So while one being down is certainly annoying, it is not likely to be the end of the world.

In the end DCFC stations will need to be reliable so that folks can travel with reasonable assurance. Also more 24-50 kW DCFC stations will need to dot the landscape to facilitate opportunity charges.

But it's not a good idea to paint DCFC as unusable. For both long distance travel, and for more flexible local public charging, reliable DCFC is necessary.

ga2500ev
 

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EA definitely does have reliability issues. But in my opinion, we need to cut them some slack right now. They have rolled out a nationwide charging network in a very short period of time.

And unlike many charging networks, they are actively addressing these reliability issues. Here is what I have observed:
1) They provide multiple ways to pay. Most networks don't have on-the-spot credit card readers. They have that in addition to app-based payments. Reliability is improved when you have multiple ways to pay.
2) They are constantly deploying crews to fix problems. Many other networks allow chargers to remain broken for months or even years.
3) Their customer support staff is extremely courteous and helpful. Often, they can initiate a charge remotely if all else fails.
4) EA is very pro-active about reporting status on PlugShare.
5) The issue with derated chargers was completely out of EA's control. Efacec chargers were found to be defective and they went through and derated them so they were at least operational until a fix could be provided.
6) That fix has begun its rollout.
7) The ability to charge at such high CCS speeds is brand new technology. Bugs are expected with any new technology.

Granted, this "cutting them some slack" should not last forever. EA reliability needs to show signs of improvement. Right now, the stats I keep show their reliability at a pitiful 87%. If we are at the same level of service a year from now then I think it will be time to start asking some hard questions about EA's performance.

Frankly, I see EA as critical to the adoption of electric vehicles and our ability to combat climate change. Having Tesla's closed network as the only reliable way for EV's to travel long distance will not serve us well in the long run.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm in broad agreement with most of what you say. I was a field engineer for a large industrial automation company for 20 years, so I have an inkling of the complexity of deploying complex systems "out in the world'

I would think that by now EA stations should be more reliable - It's a relatively simple concept with no moving parts other than fans and contactors. Card reader reliability problems baffle me - that's a very mature technology that has trickled down to reliable and very low value transaction devices - soda machines, tire inflation stations, car vacuums, and parking meters.

One issue I'm getting NO "proactive customer service" regarding is the "double derate" - chargers outputting no more than 21 kW despite being described as "0-50" kW. EA needs to take ownership of that and communicate that status honestly and in real time.

I do believe there are several fundamental flaws aside from reliability that will deter wider EV adoption:

1) Lack of canopies - we expect as a matter of course to be protected from sun and rain while refueling ICE cars - having a roof overhead changes the whole experience. This isn't just about comfort - without shade, display screens are unreadable in direct sunlight, and rain entering card readers likely impacts reliability. Canopies would help with icing - big visual clue that the spot isn't just a parking space.

I have to imagine that the canopy issue would be even more important up north during cold rain and snow.

2) Length, weight, and stiffness of connector cables. During a road trip I had to ask my wife to signal me forward to within an inch of the bollard / curb in order to be as absolutely close as possible to the connector. On one occasion, I had her rassle the cable, and she found it inconvenient at best. The strain placed on the car's charging port while connected is worrisome as well.

I know the typical response - the cables have to be heavy to safely conduct the hundreds of amps that future faster charging cars will accept...yadda yadda. The reason I say "yadda yadda" is that Tesla has managed to deploy a cable that conveys 250 kW at 480 volts:

27159


That's about the same thickness as that of my lowly JuiceBox 40...so it can be done.


3) Minor for now but likely to cause future problems - cable outer jackets at Jacksonville, despite having been installed for maybe 2 months, are already turning from black to white where sun strikes them - I'm not a materials engineer, but that change has to be a harbinger of UV damage

Maybe the Efacec fix will also address UV degradation - we can only hope.
 
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