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Education is going to be the critical piece to informing an ignorant public to the nuances of charging EVs. To the average person, using an electrical appliance is as simple as plugging it in. Same with gas: put the handle in the car and pull the trigger. The only nuance is the grade of gasoline.

EV charging stations operate on different functional tiers. Other electrical appliances do too. But typically they are a semi-permanent fixture (dryers, ovens) that are plugged an unplugged only during installation and removal. The authors experience is equivalent to switching from a gas dryer to an electric where a 240V 30A line was never run. You'd be surprised how many folks would try to plug it into the 120V socket for the washer.

I guess Jaguar really doesn't want to sell their i-Page. I wouldn't let an EV out of my sight with a novice EV driver without a complete session both with Plugshare and with an actual charging session at an appropriate charging station.

A 1/2 hour or so at a 100-150 kW DCFC would have solved this problem. But since the author equated all charging stations, as an ICE driver equates all gas stations, it's easy to see why there was such confusion. I'm surprised that they didn't try a Tesla Supercharger.

ga2500ev
 

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Education is going to be the critical piece to informing an ignorant public to the nuances of charging EVs....(dryers, ovens) are plugged an unplugged only during installation and removal....
You make several very good points, but as for the plugging and unplugging of a device, our smart phones are a very good analogy of how to treat an EV.

As for your first point on education, good luck. This nation has taken great strides over the last two decades to become a blissfully ignorant lot.
 

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You make several very good points, but as for the plugging and unplugging of a device, our smart phones are a very good analogy of how to treat an EV.
Cell phones slightly illustrate the point in terms different chargers and connectors. If you have microUSB then neither a USB-C or Lightning connector will work. Sometimes a OEM charger will charge a phone much faster than a generic bought of a random shelf.

As for your first point on education, good luck. This nation has taken great strides over the last two decades to become a blissfully ignorant lot.
Agreed. That's going to be the biggest problem. The terminology I explain with now is travel charging, overnight charging, and medium speed charging and the situations each are appropriate for. One doesn't use an overnight charger for a trip unless one is staying at hotel for the night for example.

I think it's just important to be aware of what's appopriate. But this is going to be challenging because as you pointed out, many folks don't want to have to think about anything.

ga2500ev
 

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It would be nice if EV manufacturers would recognize the inherent problems associated with their customers' use of EVs and do something to make the transition less painful. There is no reason to let an EV owner know where L1 charging stations are via an on-screen display and yet several of the Times author's stops were at L1 charging locations that his i-Pace display told him were available for his use. Technically correct, but totally useless information.

If Plugshare isn't the onboard answer, the manufacturers embracing the CCS charging format need to band together and develop something that addresses the issues of the typical EV traveler. Real soon would be nice.
I couldn't agree more.

Everyone always recommends PlugShare, but frankly, it's borderline unusable as a planning tool. You can tell it to recommend only CCS chargers, but it'll still list a grab bag of chargers you wouldn't really want to use.
 

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While we, as early adopters of a new and potentially game-changing technology, deal with the various problems associated with the daily operation of our EVs in a universe skewed towards ICEs, another more fundamental problem is rearing its ugly head. I've posted the link to an article in the LA Times outlining the frustration of a Jaguar i-Pace driver trying to find a charging station.

Short version: Getting these DCFC stations up and running is only a very preliminary phase in mass EV adoption. If the average American driver can't find an open station that is in good working order in a reasonably convenient manner when his car needs a charge, the negative experience will have 10 times the effect of a good experience. It's a basic law of sales - keep your customers happy, because one unhappy customer will undo the work of 10 satisfied customers.

And the author of the article below just spread the word to the entire subscription base of the LA Times that EVs are for puttering around town.

(could not include url in quote - birkin)

I _fully_ agree. While I think the long-term momentum toward EVs will overcome these pain-points -- I do worry for the less-early-adopters who aren't prepared to treat long-trips requiring DC-fast-charging with the careful planning (including backup-plans) that an airplane pilot would use.

I _do_ admire Usain's Electrify-America reliability tracking -- but if I understand the algorithm correctly, Ivy144's December 14 2018's PlugShare charge-report would be counted as a 'success'. But it included the note, re the 6 CCS-ports: "I tried all CCS. ONLY station 02 port 1, and 05 port 1 would charge. Worked with Amy at Support and she is placing maintenance calls on the rest". That's the kind of experience that'll end up causing more negative than positive feelings for the average driver.

As a software-developer, one of the features I and my team build into our apps is failure-notifications, so that we're notified of problems so we can _pro-actively_ investigate and fix things to minimize inconvenience for users.

Today, at a unsuccessful EV-Go charging session (normally I've found EV-Go reliable), the knowledgeable customer-service rep noted her computer showed her that the station had been reporting more unsuccessful than successful charges for the last couple of weeks, and that she'd initiate a tech to service the machine. That's good, but the software should itself trigger such alerts.

It's that commitment to the end-user experience that I think Tesla cares about (for its customers), and that I worry is missing from the fast-paced non-Tesla EV-charger build-out.
 

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I _fully_ agree. While I think the long-term momentum toward EVs will overcome these pain-points -- I do worry for the less-early-adopters who aren't prepared to treat long-trips requiring DC-fast-charging with the careful planning (including backup-plans) that an airplane pilot would use.
i.e., carry enough charge to make it to your destination, and then to your alternate, and thence for another 45 minutes.
 

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Everyone always recommends PlugShare, but frankly, it's borderline unusable as a planning tool. You can tell it to recommend only CCS chargers, but it'll still list a grab bag of chargers you wouldn't really want to use.
I agree and disagree. PlugShare is indispensable as a planning tool at this point; however, I would never use its route planning feature. I think the biggest issue with PlugShare is that most people don't know how to use it; it is as complicated to use correctly as the EV trip itself is to plan.

That being said, the filters are what makes PlugShare so effective, though they are missing several -- in my opinion -- essential filters. The key filters they have and need:

  • Type
  • User Rating
  • Network Provider
  • Chargers per Site (missing)
  • Speed by kW or A (missing)
  • Price (missing)

But getting back to how I actually use it to plan:
  1. Is the route even possible? Technically, the answer to this is always "yes," but I start with the baseline of adequate CCS coverage.
  2. Is the route convenient? This is essentially matching the available chargers and speeds to the stops and my overall expectations for the trip, which I would have even in an ICE vehicle (so that shouldn't be a change for anyone today).
  3. What are my primary charging stops? These are the chargers I head into the trip planning to use.
  4. What are my backups if something goes wrong (and what do I need to do to get there)? These effect how I approach the primary chargers... reckless abandon, moderate reckoning, or truck lane with emergency lights.

I _fully_ agree. While I think the long-term momentum toward EVs will overcome these pain-points -- I do worry for the less-early-adopters who aren't prepared to treat long-trips requiring DC-fast-charging with the careful planning (including backup-plans) that an airplane pilot would use.
What I've found to be the main pain points for traveling in an EV:

First, the inversion of range expectations. Internal combustion vehicles actually see their best fuel economy when they are driving at freeway speeds. This is because ICE vehicles are extremely wasteful in typical around-town type driving. Now, when it comes to EVs, the opposite is true. The best EV efficiency is achieved in city driving, but the range is significantly reduced on freeway driving because the load increases with speed. The Prius was such a huge victory because it had the strength of good ICE freeway efficiency combined with the efficiency of an EV in city driving. Essentially, it acted the part of an EV without the learning curve.

Second, publicly refueling an EV is as complicated as publicly fueling an ICE vehicle. That's right. It's not more complicated, but it is as complicated. The reason that matters is that ICE vehicle owners are well-practiced at public refueling. They are required to do it all the time, regardless of whether they are driving locally or on long trips. For EV owners, however, it can be months or even years between needed to use a public charger. That lack of day-to-day practice means that for many EV owners, they are essentially relearning how to refuel their EV every time they take it on a long trip. The clear model to emulate here is Tesla, where the EV owner sets up a single billing account, and the public charging experience is nearly identical to their home charging experience. Tesla's model isn't without issue, though, as I've seen a number of Tesla owner's complaining about only charging at 20 to 30 miles per hour on a "Supercharger." It was actually a L2 AC destination charger.

I _do_ admire Usain's Electrify-America reliability tracking -- but if I understand the algorithm correctly, Ivy144's December 14 2018's PlugShare charge-report would be counted as a 'success'. But it included the note, re the 6 CCS-ports: "I tried all CCS. ONLY station 02 port 1, and 05 port 1 would charge. Worked with Amy at Support and she is placing maintenance calls on the rest". That's the kind of experience that'll end up causing more negative than positive feelings for the average driver.

As a software-developer, one of the features I and my team build into our apps is failure-notifications, so that we're notified of problems so we can _pro-actively_ investigate and fix things to minimize inconvenience for users.
In the case of Electrify America, I think we need to realize that we are still beta testers. We are seven months into their build out, where they are trying to integrate charging hardware from four different providers, using another provider's billing software, using yet another provider's payment processing system, and serving a wide variety of EVs from a number of different automakers. In addition, a number of EV drivers who are not necessarily experienced using any public DCFC running into issues that are difficult to diagnose without being there, and I and others have already identify issues with older CCS equipped vehicles requiring additional driver input when using heavy, high-power CCS cables. https://electricrevs.com/2018/12/19/some-drivers-struggle-to-use-new-liquid-cooled-charging-cables/ To top that off, we have trolling Tesla owners who are making false negative check ins at sites.

Today, at a unsuccessful EV-Go charging session (normally I've found EV-Go reliable), the knowledgeable customer-service rep noted her computer showed her that the station had been reporting more unsuccessful than successful charges for the last couple of weeks, and that she'd initiate a tech to service the machine. That's good, but the software should itself trigger such alerts.

It's that commitment to the end-user experience that I think Tesla cares about (for its customers), and that I worry is missing from the fast-paced non-Tesla EV-charger build-out.
Yes, I've also found EVgo to be the most reliable public charging provider at this point, but I think we need to use caution when comparing them to Tesla. While both providers are using similarly aged equipment, Tesla benefits from their walled garden. Everything is integrated and designed to work together, and as often as not, it's the car itself that is "reporting" issues back to Tesla. EVgo's equipment is not only integrating two completely different standards with different plugs, it is providing service to a multitude of different vehicles, many of which couldn't report an issue even if they encountered one. The best analogy at this point really is that Tesla is a Mac computer while EVgo and the other public charging providers are running PC platforms using a number of different configurations and operating systems.
 

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I couldn't agree more.

Everyone always recommends PlugShare, but frankly, it's borderline unusable as a planning tool. You can tell it to recommend only CCS chargers, but it'll still list a grab bag of chargers you wouldn't really want to use.

This is going to be even more important when the 150 kW - 350 kW chargers come on line. I have long railed that Level 2 does NOT = Level 2! Some Level 2 are 16 amps (~12 range miles per charging hour {rmpch} [~10 rmpch when the voltage is only 206V {2 wires of a 3-phase circuit}]) vs those which are 32 amps (~25 rmpch) and others which are 40 amps (~30 rmpch)!

With Level 3 EVSE it is going to be even less useful to call all DCFC equal, or all "Level 3" {some of these ARE AC} EVSE the same. 24 kW is a LONG WAY from 150kW! PlugShare needs to make subgroups of Level 2 & 3 EVSE. They have already used green and orange icons to differentiate, but the human eye can discriminate 256 colors/shades/tints. Is it time to bring categories of each level (with corresponding filters) to the app?
 

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I agree and disagree [that PlugShare is borderline unusable]. PlugShare is indispensable as a planning tool at this point; however, I would never use its route planning feature. I think the biggest issue with PlugShare is that most people don't know how to use it; it is as complicated to use correctly as the EV trip itself is to plan.

That being said, the filters are what makes PlugShare so effective, though they are missing several -- in my opinion -- essential filters. The key filters they have and need:

  • Type
  • User Rating
  • Network Provider
  • Chargers per Site (missing)
  • Speed by kW or A (missing)
  • Price (missing)
I'm not sure what it was you disagreed with, since you've emphasized the point I made. “Borderline unusable” means that you can use it, but it's painful. Missing filter categories make it far more difficult to use than it needs to be.

What PlugShare can quickly show is whether a route is fundamentally unfeasible because there are no chargers on it at all. But beyond that, you probably need to click on every potential charger to rule it in or out. Trying to figure out the charging speed is particularly difficult, requiring scrolling through check-ins to see if anyone actually reported charging speed, looking at photos to see what model it seems to be and whether someone took a photo of the spec plate, or going to the provider's site to see what it says there.

In addition to your list, there is also real-world availability. I'm not going to drive up to a BMW dealership and beg to use their DC fast charger charger, or sneak into a gated community to access their level-2 chargers. And then there is also payment method — can I use a credit card or do I need to be signed up as a member of their network?

But getting back to how I actually use it to plan:
  1. Is the route even possible? Technically, the answer to this is always "yes," but I start with the baseline of adequate CCS coverage.
  2. Is the route convenient? This is essentially matching the available chargers and speeds to the stops and my overall expectations for the trip, which I would have even in an ICE vehicle (so that shouldn't be a change for anyone today).
  3. What are my primary charging stops? These are the chargers I head into the trip planning to use.
  4. What are my backups if something goes wrong (and what do I need to do to get there)? These effect how I approach the primary chargers... reckless abandon, moderate reckoning, or truck lane with emergency lights.
And how long does it take you to do this? More than a minute, I'd guess. It's way more than ten minutes when I've done it.

For EVs to be mainstream, this whole process needs to be quick and easy and done with little manual guidance. Chevy's myChevrolet (cr)app is remarkably close. With a few improvements (mostly better data, more usability, better coverage of amenities), it could meet user's needs. So could PlugShare and A Better Route Planner, but right now, none of them are good enough.
 

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Plugshare has more data (and more accurate) than any other single app re: charging locations and state of said plugs. I could not travel outside of the metropolitan area without it. Chargepoint is a close second (but not very close). For route planning with stop estimations, charge times, etc.. - us ABRP, MyChevrolet App or Chargeway - but good for Plugshare getting into the game with Route Planning, I'm sure it will improve in time.

We are the early adopters - we all know this. Having a few apps and some comparison data in our pockets shouldn't be that big of a deal.

For someone who doesn't want to do the work - use the Chevy App planner - it seams pretty accurate, is conservative and keeps the toolbox simple...
 

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Discussion Starter #132
I _do_ admire Usain's Electrify-America reliability tracking -- but if I understand the algorithm correctly, Ivy144's December 14 2018's PlugShare charge-report would be counted as a 'success'. But it included the note, re the 6 CCS-ports: "I tried all CCS. ONLY station 02 port 1, and 05 port 1 would charge. Worked with Amy at Support and she is placing maintenance calls on the rest". That's the kind of experience that'll end up causing more negative than positive feelings for the average driver.
I agree with your basic premise, but there is really no good way to quantify the reports of, "This was a bad experience but I eventually was able to charge." So I count any success as "success". If you were completely unable to charge then that's the only way it counts as "failure".


Even with giving Electrify America every benefit of the doubt, their success rate is stuck at only 81%. That fact alone shows that EA has a long way to if they ever want to be considered reliable.
 

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Hey someone needs to volunteer to drive out to Winnemucca NV to see if they're new EA charger is working. Take a Level-2 portable EVSE just in case ... and a camera to get some photos. Drop a few coins at the casino(s) and you might get a "free trip".
 
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