umlaut has named ElectrifyAmerica and Tesla as its top two US electric vehicle charging networks. Following behind at number three is ChargePoint. In partnership with Charged Electric Vehicles Magazine, umlaut tested charging networks for user experiences and discovered that charging EVs while on the go is becoming more accessible. There is room for improvement, however.
The two conducted their analysis for the second consecutive year and ranked Electrify America the highest among seven charge point operators. Tesla and Blink were added to the 2021 analysis, which included more charging stations and new states. In the 2020 analysis, umlaut and Charged looked at charging infrastructure in California, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Testers drove 2,100 miles in electric vehicles, including a Tesla Model 3 and Ford Mustang Mach-E.
For the 2021 analysis, Electrify America scored 702 out of 1,000 points and was awarded umlaut’s 2021 Best-in-Test award. Tesla’s Supercharger network scored 649 points and ChargePoint scored 611. EVgo, Greenlots, Blink, and EV Connect were all ranked as well. The two categories in which the seven providers were evaluated were:
- Digital Platform — the digital experience on a charging provider’s website and smartphone. app;
- Charging Location — the physical interaction at the charging station location.
Although Electrify America ranked the highest in the Digital Platform category, Tesla Superchargers scored the highest in Charging Locations.
Hakan Ekman, CEO of telecommunications and managing director at umlaut US, shared comments for Electrify America:
“Congratulations to Electrify America for winning the ‘Best-in-Test’ award for the second consecutive year. Even though we tested in different states this year, the overall results indicate that the EV charging infrastructure in the US is improving in terms of accessibility, ease-of-use and fewer charging errors.”
Room For Improvement
As with all things in life, there is room for improvement with all networks, and I think this study is a valuable tool that will help each of the EV charging providers improve. For starting and ending times, Tesla Superchargers were the fastest. The combined starting time of all the other charge point operators was much slower. Tesla’s speed was 8.59 seconds.
Another area for improvement was convenience. Charging stations still lag behind gas stations in terms of service offerings such as food, restrooms, and weather protection.
Two more areas of improvement include transparency and roaming and interoperability. Some charge point operators don’t inform the customer how long the charging process will take or how much it will cost. As for roaming, each individual operator’s app shows only its own available charging stations and only allows payment within its network. Third-party apps for navigation are available, but none of these offer payment across all networks. I think this could also fall into the convenience category — it would be convenient to use one app instead of all of the individual charging stations’ apps.
Christian Sussbauer, manager of eMobility at umlaut, shared his thoughts about the future of charging infrastructure in the US and the importance of giving customers an experience that makes e-mobility attractive.
“We see the charging infrastructure in the US expanding — and so does the gap between the leading Charge Point Operators and their smaller competitors. As a result, customers often aren’t getting the experience they should and is crucial to making e-mobility attractive to more customers.”
Sussbauer also touched upon the many discussions about including Tesla Superchargers in the 2021 analysis in the report published by Charged.
“We had a lot of internal discussions about including Tesla Superchargers in this year’s Benchmark because we really want to create a testing system that will capture the right metrics and provide the most useful information to the EV industry. To be honest, if you asked me before we conducted the tests, I think I would have predicted that Tesla Superchargers would end up leading in total points because it’s well known that they do a great job in many aspects of fast charging. And actually, our test results show this clearly — Superchargers excel in many important areas. It’s actually a little boring to test Supercharger stations because you just plug them in and they reliably work.”
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