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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Going up to Humboldt and back this weekend from San Mateo, I stopped at every DCFC location on US-101 between Cloverdale (north of Santa Rosa) and Klamath (bit south of Crescent City and the Oregon border).

Mostly it worked quite well. The big wrinkle was that on Monday around noon, the Oak Fire broke out between Willits and Laytonville and shortly after they closed US-101. It's a very inconvenient spot because there are no feasible alternate routes nearby. Caltrans suggested people go out to the Mendocino Coast which resulted in huge amounts of traffic and very long delays. It didn't help that Google Maps for a while was routing people along the closed highway (even today it hasn't been able to understand that no, the local dirt road that has been closed because there is a fire burning on it does not count as a bypass). That said, the Bolt performed well - I charged in Laytonville to 68% and reached Cloverdale with 40% (plenty) despite the extra 50 miles involved in detouring out to the coast. If you have to be stuck in a jam, the Bolt is a good car to be in...

Observations on DCFCs:
  • Cloverdale ChargePoint DCFC (+110 miles). Two 50kW units. One was down when I returned. Back of a decent-sized shopping center but otherwise far from anything interesting (like downtown). A few trees for shade.
  • Laytonville ChargePoint DCFC (+75 miles). Two 62.5kW units. Behind a Chinese restaurant, a few hundred from the center of the town. No shade. Tesla SCs were fully occupied when I returned.
  • Benbow ChargePoint DCFC (+55 miles). One 50kW unit. Front lot of the historic Benbow Inn. A short walk from the river (nice as it was 97 degrees out when I came through).
  • Loleta ChargePoint DCFC (+55 miles). Two 50kW units. Upper lot above the casino's 'Family Entertainment center'. Nice views, but nothing else beside the casino nearby.
  • Eureka EA DCFC (+15 miles). Two 350kW units and two 150kW units. Far-side of parking lot of a huge mall. Bit awkward because a lot of traffic uses the same aisle to speed through the parking lot. Walking access to the marsh, but some distance from downtown.
  • Klamath ChargePoint DCFC (+65 miles). One 62.5kW unit (second unit is CHAdeMO only). Far-side of Holiday Inn Express parking lot. Nothing else nearby.
There are also two EA locations that aren't yet up:
  • Willits EA DCFC. Units are in the busy part of the Safeway parking lot. A decent location (few blocks from much of the town) but likely to be ICEd.
  • One Log House (near Garberville) EA DCFC. Located amidst a giant gift shop and some gas stations. Not much doing there.
Note that there's no EvGo north of Windsor on the US-101 corridor.
 

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Frankly, you were lucky to have gotten through at all after the Oak fire broke out. There's simply no place to go other than the coast. When I crossed over the Mendocino Range in my Bolt EV a few years back, that was it. The entire section road I took to get there is currently engulfed in flames from the August Complex. The national forest is completely closed, and we recently had a volunteer firefighter die trying to navigate those roads. No GPS, and the only reason I know how to get around up there is because I grew up driving those roads.

But, on a happier note, it is nice to see how the infrastructure on Highway 101 north of San Francisco has grown. It's unfortunate that the EA site is located in prime Safeway parking, but hopefully, the average customer is respectful enough to not ICE them. Given this is California, I think EVHoles are going to be the more likely culprits.

Also, it's worth noting that the Recargo grant funds for the North Highway 101 corridor are still live, so hopefully, they can get their act together. If EVgo continues to get an influx of cash from automakers such as GM and Nissan, hopefully, they will also provide support.
 

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  • Eureka EA DCFC (+15 miles). Two 350kW units and two 150kW units. Far-side of parking lot of a huge mall. Bit awkward because a lot of traffic uses the same aisle to speed through the parking lot. Walking access to the marsh, but some distance from downtown.
The chargers are next to the McDonald's, the Tesla chargers are at the main mall entrance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The chargers are next to the McDonald's, the Tesla chargers are at the main mall entrance.
I guess by far side I meant they're at the opposite end from the stores, etc. I didn't notice it being very close to the McDonald's. But it was rather unpleasant having a continuous stream of RVs and giant trucks roaring by as I charged. I definitely will back-in next time so that at least I don't have to deal with traffic when getting things out of the hatch.

Frankly, you were lucky to have gotten through at all after the Oak fire broke out. There's simply no place to go other than the coast. When I crossed over the Mendocino Range in my Bolt EV a few years back, that was it. The entire section road I took to get there is currently engulfed in flames from the August Complex. The national forest is completely closed, and we recently had a volunteer firefighter die trying to navigate those roads. No GPS, and the only reason I know how to get around up there is because I grew up driving those roads.
Things are looking pretty bad up there. The Oak Fire is seemingly coming under control but the August Complex in the national forest is terrible. The campground I stayed at on Sunday in Ferndale is now an evacuation center. For a while, highway 1 was closed south of Leggett due to a big rig that rolled over. 101 has now been reopened though.

But, on a happier note, it is nice to see how the infrastructure on Highway 101 north of San Francisco has grown. It's unfortunate that the EA site is located in prime Safeway parking, but hopefully, the average customer is respectful enough to not ICE them. Given this is California, I think EVHoles are going to be the more likely culprits.

Also, it's worth noting that the Recargo grant funds for the North Highway 101 corridor are still live, so hopefully, they can get their act together. If EVgo continues to get an influx of cash from automakers such as GM and Nissan, hopefully, they will also provide support.
Does Recargo have any proposed locations, or are things not that far along yet?

One other thing I noticed is that several barely/non-functioning Greenlots L2 locations have been replaced with ChargePoint. A good development from where I sit. It's a shame the campground only had TT-30.
 

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Things are looking pretty bad up there. The Oak Fire is seemingly coming under control but the August Complex in the national forest is terrible. The campground I stayed at on Sunday in Ferndale is now an evacuation center. For a while, highway 1 was closed south of Leggett due to a big rig that rolled over. 101 has now been reopened though.
The August Complex is over 700,000 acres at this point, the largest wildfire in California history.

Does Recargo have any proposed locations, or are things not that far along yet?

One other thing I noticed is that several barely/non-functioning Greenlots L2 locations have been replaced with ChargePoint. A good development from where I sit. It's a shame the campground only had TT-30.
You could check them out here:

 

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I guess by far side I meant they're at the opposite end from the stores, etc. I didn't notice it being very close to the McDonald's. But it was rather unpleasant having a continuous stream of RVs and giant trucks roaring by as I charged. I definitely will back-in next time so that at least I don't have to deal with traffic when getting things out of the hatch.
The chargers are across a driveway from the McDonald's, be careful crossing! For a long time the Tesla chargers sat unused, now there's 2 or 3 charging at times.
 

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recar
I guess by far side I meant they're at the opposite end from the stores, etc. I didn't notice it being very close to the McDonald's. But it was rather unpleasant having a continuous stream of RVs and giant trucks roaring by as I charged. I definitely will back-in next time so that at least I don't have to deal with traffic when getting things out of the hatch.



Things are looking pretty bad up there. The Oak Fire is seemingly coming under control but the August Complex in the national forest is terrible. The campground I stayed at on Sunday in Ferndale is now an evacuation center. For a while, highway 1 was closed south of Leggett due to a big rig that rolled over. 101 has now been reopened though.



Does Recargo have any proposed locations, or are things not that far along yet?

One other thing I noticed is that several barely/non-functioning Greenlots L2 locations have been replaced with ChargePoint. A good development from where I sit. It's a shame the campground only had TT-30.
recargo lost their california contract...
 

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Eric is correct. The state revoked Recargo's contract for south of SFO. I am not sure what the status of the northern contract is. I'd be surprised if it isn't pulled or has been since we last checked. Recargo's web site is unchanged since they were bought out two years ago. I see that Brad Berman is writing for Electek now. Someone should give the CEC a call. Hint, hint.

Now the networks can use Covid-19 as an excuse for not having their contracts completed.

Paul
 

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Eric is correct. The state revoked Recargo's contract for south of SFO. I am not sure what the status of the northern contract is. I'd be surprised if it isn't pulled or has been since we last checked. Recargo's web site is unchanged since they were bought out two years ago. I see that Brad Berman is writing for Electek now. Someone should give the CEC a call. Hint, hint.

Now the networks can use Covid-19 as an excuse for not having their contracts completed.

Paul
Yes, there was some bad timing for Recargo all the way around. I applaud them for trying to overachieve on their CEC sites, but frankly, two to four 50 kW units would have been better than nothing at all. Between acquisitions, transitions, pandemic, and now regular, fire-induced states of emergency, I don't see Recargo meeting their contractual obligations. Just one more lost opportunity, unfortunately. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Guess I should have kept my mouth shut. Coming back from Eureka yesterday, I charged near Loleta at the casino and took the scenic side-roads instead of US-101. Got to Cloverdale with 18% charge, but both ChargePoint units showed faults. Continued to EvGo at Windsor (arrived with <10%) where it took five tries at the two stations to initiate a charge. I guess I could have limped to Santa Rosa if I'd had to.

I just don't get what is so difficult about keeping these things functional. Heck, most of them don't even get used more than a couple times a day. There are more gas pumps in your average small town than DCFCs in most of northern California and I can't remember the last time I went to a station and couldn't get a pump to work on the first try.
 

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I just don't get what is so difficult about keeping these things functional. Heck, most of them don't even get used more than a couple times a day. There are more gas pumps in your average small town than DCFCs in most of northern California and I can't remember the last time I went to a station and couldn't get a pump to work on the first try.
Couldn't agree more. I drove from Yuba City to Mineral up Hwy 36 last month and used the Red Bluff Charge Point albeit on a very very hot day both coming and going; coming was fine but going back was an absolute PITA getting any one of three chargepoint chargers to work past the "initializing" state. I just attributed it to the heat of the day. Also putting those **** things where the western sun is on them at the hottest part of the day wasn't smart thinking; makes reading the screens almost impossible and heat them up like something from Dante's inferno.
 

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Frankly, I think a lot of it has to do with the Tritium Veefil units. I'm not sure whether they just don't work well with ChargePoint's billing and software or there's some other issue with them. On top of that, they are slow and often expensive to use. At this point, the ChargePoint Tritium sites are pretty much backup chargers for me on trips. It's a shame because I used to rely on them heavily for a number of trips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Frankly, I think a lot of it has to do with the Tritium Veefil units. I'm not sure whether they just don't work well with ChargePoint's billing and software or there's some other issue with them. On top of that, they are slow and often expensive to use. At this point, the ChargePoint Tritium sites are pretty much backup chargers for me on trips. It's a shame because I used to rely on them heavily for a number of trips.
I'm sure that's part of it, but there's plenty else that's boneheadedly wrong with these chargers in general:
  1. No shade. Makes it unpleasant to use and impossible to read the displays. Pretty dumb in a place where temperatures routinely exceed 100 degrees.
  2. Dependence on touchscreen. When the EvGo unit failed to connect, I couldn't retry because to dismiss the dialog required the touchscreen, which wasn't responsive to touch. Some ChargePoint units will let you pay by app, but you still have to 'initiate' the charge via the touchscreen, which again frequently doesn't work.
  3. Cables too short and poorly aligned with parking space. Frequently I end up parking so that I'm slightly in the neighboring space because the cable won't reach otherwise.
  4. Connector hard to insert and extract. Usually have to jimmy the connector at least a couple times for the latch to click. Plus it takes a fair bit of force.
  5. Broken card readers.
This isn't (or shouldn't be) rocket science. My guess is most people will be a lot less tolerant of this stupidity than we are.
 

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I'm sure that's part of it, but there's plenty else that's boneheadedly wrong with these chargers in general:

  1. No shade. Makes it unpleasant to use and impossible to read the displays. Pretty dumb in a place where temperatures routinely exceed 100 degrees.
  2. Dependence on touchscreen. When the EvGo unit failed to connect, I couldn't retry because to dismiss the dialog required the touchscreen, which wasn't responsive to touch. Some ChargePoint units will let you pay by app, but you still have to 'initiate' the charge via the touchscreen, which again frequently doesn't work.
  3. Cables too short and poorly aligned with parking space. Frequently I end up parking so that I'm slightly in the neighboring space because the cable won't reach otherwise.
  4. Connector hard to insert and extract. Usually have to jimmy the connector at least a couple times for the latch to click. Plus it takes a fair bit of force.
  5. Broken card readers.
This isn't (or shouldn't be) rocket science. My guess is most people will be a lot less tolerant of this stupidity than we are.
While I agree that what you listed would be serious issues that need to be addressed, I don't completely agree that they are as bad or as widespread (except for #1) as you are stating.

#1: Yes, that's an issue, and unfortunately, far more charging sites are without cover than with.

#2: This hasn't been my experience. EVgo's chargers also have an app and physical buttons. It's not always obvious, but I've initiated several EVgo sessions without ever using the touchscreen. ChargePoint is the same way. I do agree that we need to get to a point where plug-and-charge is more common than not, but the screens aren't going away. Even Tesla will be required to start adding screens to their Superchargers in California.

#3: I haven't had that experience outside of a few occasions that were so long ago (yes, cords have been lengthened since) that it's really hard to recall a time when I had difficulty hooking up. Maybe the Tritium charger at ChargePoint Headquarters, but outside of that, those cases are few and far between.

#4: That also hasn't been my experience. Even with the heavier, Huber+Suhner cords, the only time I have difficulty is when I'm plugging in with one hand, and even then, it's usually only with my off hand. It's certainly not an issue with lower power, 50 kW units. Even ChargePoint's 125 kW units are extremely easy to plug in.

#5: Yes, that has been a serious issue with Electrify America, but frankly, they are the only one I've had that issue with. Every single card reader I've used at EVgo and Recargo has worked, though it's far easier to use the RFID at EVgo chargers, so I rarely use their credit card reader.

All in all, there are improvements that need to be made will all of the public charging infrastructure, and you're right that -- when EVs are mainstream -- the average consumer isn't going to put up with it. Luckily, >90% of charging is going to be seamless and done at home or work, but for the other 10% of the time, it needs to be just as seamless. That means automakers need to work with the public charging providers to set up accounts at the time of EV sale, set up onboard navigation to clearly direct owners to chargers, and activate plug-and-charge support to lower the learning curve. I expect to see all of those things to happen for the next generation of EVs.
 
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