Electrify America fixed the mapping issues we previously covered, and it has announced pricing plans that will address some of the issues I wrote about previously. With these changes, Electrify America is making big improvements that will help its important contribution to EV adoption in the United States.
Mapping Issues Fixed
In a previous article, I pointed out that Electrify America was not adding its “under construction” stations to its online map, or to PlugShare (whereas it used to do both). EV enthusiasts started finding the stations by themselves and listing them, but some were still missing. I was able to find some by making phone calls and asking around on social media. After publication of our findings, Electrify America’s communications team reached out to us and let us know that the unmapped stations were the result of a software error that they were working on correcting.
Knowing the location of under construction stations may seem silly to some, but this was an important issue. Prospective EV buyers looking for charging station availability would have a much higher chance of buying an EV if they knew a nationwide network was coming up soon. If they thought charging coverage would be spotty, they might pass and go for another vehicle.
Now that Electrify America has fixed this issue, dealerships (the good ones, at least) will hopefully sell a few more EVs!
New Pricing Structures Will Help Current EV Owners
All but the newest non-Tesla electric vehicles charge at relatively slow speeds when DC fast charging. For both CCS and CHAdeMO cars, the car’s limit is usually about 50–60 kW, and sometimes much slower. In many states, utility regulations and laws don’t allow charging station owners to sell power by the kWh, and they usually charge by the minute or by the charging session.
The mix of possible charging speeds, the regulations/laws, etc. all left Electrify America between a rock and a hard place. Charge too little per minute, and the cost of charging the faster vehicles isn’t covered. Charge too much per minute, and the slower charging vehicles like the Nissan LEAF or the Chevy Bolt EV are paying more than the cost of gas for EV charging.
To solve this impasse, and to keep its costs (especially demand charges) covered, Electrify America recently announced that it will be moving to a speed-based fee structure. There will be three power levels for pricing: 0–75 kW; 76–125 kW; and 126–350 kW.
Complete pricing information is available at www.ElectrifyAmerica.com/pricing and will be updated in late May when the new pricing structure is in place.
Exact pricing has not been announced, but this should make it affordable for all of Electrify America’s customers to charge.
Memberships Mean Savings For Frequent Users
In addition to the pricing changes, Electrify America is going to start offering membership plans to help frequent users save more on their charging sessions.
For less frequent users, they’ll offer a simple membership called Electrify America Pass. There is no monthly fee for this plan, but it also does not offer any discounted charging. Pass members will pay the normal per-minute fees and the $1 session start fee. It seems to be tailored for EV owners who want to keep track of their charging and use the mobile app (more on that below), but where paying a monthly fee wouldn’t save money.
For frequent users, they’ll offer an Electrify America Pass+ membership for $4 monthly. Pass+ members will get discounted per-minute rates and will not have to pay the $1 session start fee. If you’ll be using Electrify America more than about 2–4 times per month, this plan is the one you’ll want to sign up for.
Mobile App Coming in Late May
Like other charging station providers, Electrify America will soon be offering a mobile app for Apple and Android devices. This app will provide several useful features:
- Locate a Charger: Find a charging station near you and get directions. The Locate a Charger feature shows you the charging stations in your area, how many of each type of charger are at the station, and which ones are currently available. Become a member of Electrify America Pass and you can see the charging status of vehicles currently using the chargers and get notified when a charger becomes available.
- Pay for a charge: Upload your payment information into the app and pay for your charging session through your phone. You can also see prices before you charge, by selecting a station where you’d like to view the charging costs.
- Track your charging session: While your vehicle is charging, you can check its progress in real time. If your vehicle communicates charging information, the app will show you your battery’s current state of charge (SOC) and the time until your battery reaches “bulk” charge, typically around 80 percent SOC. You also can choose to get notifications when your charging session has started, slowed and stopped. Once your session is complete, the app will provide a receipt.
To be honest, I’m very impressed with Electrify America’s responsiveness to customer input. The company could have easily just kept prices as they were and slowly rolled out new features. Instead, it listened to its customers and decided to do what it takes to make them happy.
I know a lot of EV drivers are skeptical of Electrify America, especially when they consider the company’s origins in the Volkswagen emissions scandal. Some EV drivers have expressed their fears online that the company would only minimally comply with the terms of the Dieselgate settlement, and not strive to truly serve EV drivers and promote EV adoption.
These new steps Electrify America is taking proves the EA’s commitment and shows us that the fears are very likely unfounded. The people working at EA seem to be committed to getting EV charging right!
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