California driving: Over a quarter of electric car-charging stations in Bay Area not working, study says

Source: By Daniella Genovese, Fox Business News • Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Just over 72% of the plugs in the Bay Area were functional

Over 27% of electric vehicle charging stations across the San Francisco Bay Area are not functioning properly, according to a recently published study.

The Reliability of Open Public Electric Vehicle Direct Current Fast Chargers pointed to a recent survey where drivers of electric vehicles in California reported facing several issues at charging stations – from broken plugs and unexpected shut-offs during charging to payment problems.

To accurately assess the reliability of these charging stations, the study looked into the efficiency of 657 charging plugs at 181 public stations across nine counties in the Bay Area. The study did not include Tesla charging stations.

David Rempel, a retired bioengineering professor from the University of California, Berkeley, and volunteers with the nonprofit Cool the Earth evaluated the stations for two minutes to see if problems arose.

An Electric Vehicle charging station in Monterey Park, California on May 18, 2021.  (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Just over 72% of the plugs were still functional, according to the report. However, nearly 23% were either unresponsive, had issues with screens, payment system failures, charge initiation failures, network failures, or broken plugs, according to the study.

At another 4.9% of stations, the charging cable was too short, according to the data.

A random evaluation of 10% of the charging plugs more than a week later also “demonstrated no overall change in functionality,” according to the study.

“In order to achieve a rapid transition to electric vehicle driving, a highly reliable and easy to use charging infrastructure is critical to building confidence as consumers shift from using familiar gas vehicles to unfamiliar electric vehicles,” the study said.

Rempel told The San Francisco Chronicle that for some sites, you have to call a 1-800 number for help, which can add another 10 to 20 minutes to the process.

“That shouldn’t be the case,” he said.

This comes as California is working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by “40% below 1990 levels by 2030,” according to the California Air Resources Board. 

The California Energy Commission (CEC) told FOX Business that the state “is committed to and investing in improving charging access and reliability, and working with the charging industry, automakers, standards organizations, community organizations and other stakeholders” to do so.

The CEC says it’s already working with other state agencies and stakeholders to “improve the customer experience at charging stations and increase access, especially for lower-income and disadvantaged communities.”

The CEC also noted that drivers have multiple options for charging, including home, workplace, and public charging.

Meanwhile, EVgo, one of the top charging network operators, told FOX Business that the company is “naturally incentivized to ensure that our chargers are not only available but provide high caliber charging experiences for our more than 340,000 customers.”

The company says it is “committed to 98% uptime of its network across its more than 850 locations and offers multiple payment options for charging: via our mobile app, on the charging screen with an RFID card or credit card, or remote start from our call center if necessary.”