Friday, July 30, 2021
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What I saw while hanging out at public EV chargers for 8 hours

Because there are different plugs and different charging rates for different vehicles, an EV driver who uses the wrong charger could prevent someone from charging their vehicle or from charging it at its fastest rate.

That’s what happened in a Walmart parking lot in another Detroit suburb, Novi.

A Porsche Taycan, with a charging capacity of 270 kilowatts per hour, can get 80 percent of its charge in as few as 22.5 minutes, according to the automaker, from the Electrify America’s 350-kilowatt charger. But the driver of a Chevy Bolt was using the 350-kW charger, even though the car can only imbibe electrons at a rate of around 50 kW per hour. And he refused to move one slot over. The Taycan driver’s pit stop at the charger lasted nearly an hour instead of 21 minutes.

You can see the potential for arguments — or worse — in these situations. Another problem is when the driver of a conventional vehicle parks in a slot reserved for electric cars and blocks the use of the charger. EV drivers call that being “ICEd out.”

It may be a good thing that most charging stations are lonely places in the early days of EVs. Electric vehicles are going to challenge American drivers to learn a new way of putting energy in their cars.

It’s not yet clear whose responsibility it is to teach consumers the proper way to use public charging stations — the vehicle manufacturer, the selling dealer or the operator of the public charger, or all three.

Electrify America, operator of nearly 800 charging stations, believes all parties have a stake in ensuring drivers use them properly. Misti Murphey, the company’s director of marketing, says more than 700 focus groups with customers have helped Electrify America develop an app that helps drivers charge properly. “Charging etiquette is one of the things we are teaching EV drivers of tomorrow as well as our automotive partners. It’s huge.”

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