I absolutely appreciate the network of charging stations that Electrify America is providing. I used the network almost exclusively in a 4 state drive with a short-range electric vehicle (EV). I drove the 2015 BMW i3 from Electrify America charging station to charging station from deep in Florida to the Appalachians and then back. I had some problems, some small delays, but never had to leave any group of stations without a charge. Yet, I think my suggestions should be taken seriously.
Today in Florida, near Naples, it was 86 degrees. Yes, that is winter in Florida now. The sun, the sun, the sun that does not stop … also makes reading any screen on a charger seem impossible. It is not simply a problem in Florida, though. This Electrify America issue held true in Georgia and South Carolina as well. Those beautiful wide screens on the front of those lovely chargers are wonderfully lit in the dead of night. Yet, try seeing them in the sunshine. It is nearly impossible to see anything.
One wears a hat, shields the light, yet still no visible screen beyond a slight image up close that lets you know it is there underneath what seems to be a blank screen. You stand and press buttons, but it’s no help.
If the app on my phone works well, as it sometimes does, the problem of seeing the screen is not such an issue. Sometimes the app, connection, or station doesn’t connect quite right — technology has its own moods. If there’s a problem with the app, which happens occasionally, you can still reliably charge with a bit more time tagged to your trip by calling the tech support. The stations do have phone numbers, and customer service at Electrify America is good. They answer quickly and are always kind, intelligent, and quite helpful. Yet, if you call to report it, they ask you to look at the screen, and the point is that it is impossible to see.
All the investment in these stations — which are high tech and have rapid charging speed — is impressive. They do charge your EV quite quickly. As Electrify America expands, it seems it will offer a similar convenience as the Tesla Supercharging network. It is nice even for Tesla owners to have both. For the rest of us, it is essential.
The problems are issues with the app that pop up from time to time, and light. Chargers standing in the bright sunlight need to have covers. I’m sure it is more investment to cover them, but it is a big issue. My suggestion is to cover them all as soon as possible, or frustration will continue to rise while using the stations, which can harm adoption and the brand’s reputation.
The most obvious economical and ecological choice is to cover them with solar panels.
Below is an example of what is needed. It is a nice look at my EV charging in Asheville, North Carolina. It is not an Electrify America station.
I will note another suggestion in a future article. For now, I want to bring another thank you to Electrify America, whose expansion is greatly appreciated (even if it is court ordered). Invariably in my travels, the high-power DC fast chargers that Electrify America had installed on my chosen route (chosen because of Electrify America) were at Walmart stores. I know that they are also found at some larger shopping centers, which is appreciated. Actually, though, I got used to finding them in Walmart parking lots, so it became easier and more routine. No dead-end surprises of frozen, out of commission, or locked chargers.
A recent Electrify America press release indicates that approximately 40 EV charging stations with a total of 140 EV chargers will be available for use by the end of 2020 at select Bank of America locations in California, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Virginia, and Massachusetts. Again, these will presumably be easy to find and access, and make EV life that much easier.
“With an electric vehicle capable of accepting a 350kW charge, EV drivers can add up to 20 miles of range per minute as a result of Electrify America’s ultra-fast chargers technology.” The charging speed and reliability coming from Electrify America are impressive. Just a few tweaks are needed to make the experience that much better for EV drivers.
- I have a low range BMW i3. My cost per full charge from 0 to 80% was around $ 5 to 6. It was $13, 14. to get to 100 percent.
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