JD Power And Associates, in collaboration with PlugShare, surveyed 11,554 owners of battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles between January and June of this year. The study was designed to examine consumer attitudes, behaviors and satisfaction, and determine their overall experience with public EV charging services. Drivers who visited the charging location but didn’t charge their vehicle were asked why they decided not to charge.
The study found that the increase in the number of electric vehicles in America is putting stress on an already beleaguered public vehicle charging infrastructure. Owners in California, Texas, and Washington, where EV sales are strong, are finding the charging infrastructure is inadequate and plagued with non-functioning stations.
There are more EV chargers available than ever before, yet customer satisfaction with public Level 2 charging declined from last year, dropping to 633 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 643 in 2021, while satisfaction with the speedier DC (direct current) fast charger segment remains flat at 674. This lack of progress points to the need for improvement as EVs gain wider consumer acceptance because the shortage of public charging availability is the number one reason vehicle shoppers reject EVs, JD Power reports.
The news is less dire for Tesla owners. The Tesla Destination charger network ranks highest among Level 2 charge point operators with a score of 680 and Tesla Supercharger ranks highest among DC fast chargers with a score of 739.
“Public charging continues to provide challenges to overall EV adoption and current EV owners alike,” said Brent Gruber, executive director of global automotive at JD Power.
“Not only is the availability of public charging still an obstacle, but EV owners continue to be faced with charging station equipment that is inoperable.
“The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program promises to provide funds to states for building out their EV public charging infrastructure. This will lead to sizable growth in the availability of EV charging stations, but just adding stations isn’t the answer. Stations need to be added to areas where there are currently gaps in heavily traveled routes and in high density areas for people who don’t have access to residential charging, but most importantly, designed with things for users to do while charging — regardless of the use case. Then, we need to make sure those stations are reliable.”
Charging satisfaction is measured using 10 factors:
- ease of charging
- speed of charging
- cost of charging
- ease of payment,
- ease of finding this location
- convenience of this location
- things to do while charging
- how safe you feel at this location
- availability of chargers
- physical condition of the charging location.
Key Findings Of The JD Power EV Charging Survey
The survey revealed that satisfaction with the ease of charging at a DC fast charger is 745 (out of 1000) and at a Level 2 charging station it is 699. This indicates that current EV owners understand the operation of both types of chargers, so the systems themselves do not prompt issues. But virtually all other attributes related to public charging scored lower — sometimes much lower.
When it comes to the cost of charging, those who responded to the survey rated the cost of DC fast charging at only 473 and 446 for Level 2 chargers. The index for ease of finding a location was 724 among users of DC fast chargers and 683 among users of Level 2 chargers.
But the industry needs to do a better job of maintaining existing charging stations, JD Power says. The study finds one out of every five respondents ended up not charging their vehicle during their visit. Of those who didn’t charge, 72% indicated that it was due to the station malfunctioning or being out of service.
Owner satisfaction with availability of public charging stations differs by region. The Pacific region, led by California, has the highest number of public chargers but also the highest number of EV owners. Yet The West North Central region (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) had the highest level of satisfaction with the availability of public charging. The East North Central region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin) has the highest level of satisfaction with the condition of public chargers.
Fast Charger Users Are Better Planners
The JD Power survey shows that users of Level 2 chargers cite convenience and price as the two key reasons for choosing a charging location. Users of DC fast chargers, on the other hand, are often on a planned road trip which, along with convenience, determines their choice of charging location. Often, they have few logical alternatives.
“Everyone knows that the landscape of gas stations is focused on convenience—readily available, fast fueling and quick convenience items,” Gruber said. “Although fast charging is seemingly getting faster by the day, to expedite the charging process vehicles will need to accommodate the newest ultra-fast chargers. Currently, only a handful of vehicles can take advantage of the fastest charging speeds. And no matter how fast their vehicle charges, EV owners still indicate they need more options for things to do during each charging session to enhance convenience and fill the down time.”
Tesla Leads JD Power EV Charger Rankings
The Tesla Destination charging network ranks highest among Level 2 charging stations with a score of 680. Volta (667) ranks second and ChargePoint (639) ranks third. The Tesla Supercharger network ranks highest among DC fast chargers with a score of 739. It is the only DC fast charger brand to rank above industry average.
Neither of those findings should surprise anyone. The Tesla Supercharger network is head and shoulders above the rest. The internet is filled with stories from frustrated electric car owners who find many chargers broken or out of service. Horror stories about standing in the pouring rain trying to get a customer service representative to unlock a charger or authorize a credit card payment are legion.
If you’re using the Tesla system, there is seldom any drama. You plug in, the system recognizes you and your car in a matter of seconds, then the touchscreen in your car tells you exactly how fast you are charging and how much your charging session will cost. Payment is instantaneous and seamless. What’s not to like?
True, not every Supercharger location has a pub or a place to play lawn darts nearby, but they are always in clean, well lighted places with restrooms and a selection of food items, some prepared fresh and some prepackaged. There are complaints that most do not make it easy to charge while towing a trailer and that is a legitimate concern. But on balance, charging with Tesla is a stress free, no hassle experience. No wonder so many people who do their homework choose to buy a Tesla.
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