At the beginning of the year, EVgo announced that it was going to step up on charging reliability. As most EV drivers know, non-Tesla charging can be pretty hit and miss right now. The chances of actually getting stranded are still very low, but things like low speeds, having to switch stalls, and other more minor headaches are pretty common. So, a number of the larger charging providers announced this year that they’re taking solid steps to improve.
Let’s take a look at the program EVgo announced earlier this year and then discuss a recent announcement showing that the program is getting real results.
EVgo’s Improvement Plan
In January, EVgo launched “EVgo ReNew,” a program to enhance and improve the fast charging experience at its stations nationwide. This program builds on EVgo’s existing charger maintenance efforts, which include 24/7 monitoring and preventative health checks at charging stations.
With EVs comprising more than 5% of all new U.S. car sales for the first time, EVgo recognizes the growing demand for not only charging infrastructure, but GOOD charging infrastructure. As part of the EVgo ReNew initiative, the company is evaluating the historical performance of stations and plans to replace, upgrade, or retire hundreds of stations to advance uptime and build range confidence for EV drivers.
The ReNew program consists of six pillars that outline EVgo’s approach to reliability: Resilience, Prevention, Diagnostics, Rapid response, Analysis, and Continuous customer service. Through these pillars, EVgo aims to improve the reliability and convenience of the charging experience for electric vehicle drivers.
EVgo says these pillars are:
- Prevention: EVgo focuses on proactive measures to prevent issues and ensure the smooth operation of their charging network instead of chasing problems after they start. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. EVgo prioritizes prevention by implementing 24/7/365 network monitoring and diagnostics. To ensure optimal performance, all equipment undergoes thorough testing for hardware, software, and vehicle interoperability at the EVgo Innovation Lab in El Segundo, CA.
- Diagnostics: EVgo utilizes advanced diagnostics to identify potential problems in real-time and address them promptly. The Diagnostics team at EVgo leverages Driver Insights, which incorporates customer data, and Network Insights, which encompasses system reporting and tools. This holistic approach empowers them to efficiently evaluate and resolve issues, identifying the underlying causes and implementing tailored solutions.
- Rapid Response: EVgo has a rapid response system in place to quickly resolve any charging station issues that may arise instead of letting a broken station sit and wait while drivers get stuck. EVgo boasts a team of highly skilled in-house technicians, backed by a widespread network of partners across the U.S., providing nationwide support. Our team members possess extensive expertise in working with EV charging infrastructure and our operational software systems.
- Analysis: EVgo conducts thorough analysis of station performance and usage data to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of their charging network. A comprehensive analysis necessitates a diverse range of expertise. EVgo’s Software, Hardware, Data Science, and Field Operations teams collaborate closely to pinpoint underlying issues and devise effective solutions. The company says it meticulously tracks and internally communicates diagnostic information, including failure modes, error codes, and repair criteria.
- Resilience: EVgo designs their charging infrastructure to be resilient, ensuring reliable and uninterrupted charging experiences for EV drivers. In the early days of EV charging, fast charging sites usually had only one or two chargers, serving just a couple of cars. However, EVgo now typically constructs sites with a minimum of four charging stalls, and some even offer six or more. This ensures that if one charger encounters issues, there are alternative charging options available at the same location.
- Continuous Customer Service: EVgo aims to provide best-in-class customer service, constantly striving to meet the needs and expectations of their customers.The EVgo Charging Crew can quickly reboot glitchy chargers or start a remote session to assist customers. When a charger requires repair, its status is updated in the EVgo and PlugShare apps as “in maintenance,” allowing customers to easily identify available chargers.
Educational Efforts To Reduce User Error
In addition to ReNew, EVgo is dedicated to developing customer education programs. These include Charge Talk, a video series that addresses the most common EV charging questions, and a new QR code campaign at select stations. These QR codes link to “charging 101” toolkits, which consist of helpful videos and how-to content. The aim is to assist new EV drivers in successfully charging their vehicles for the first time. Furthermore, the company has partnered with two automakers to conduct dealership education pilots. These pilots aim to equip dealer staff with the necessary resources to support customers who are purchasing or leasing an EV for the first time.
With over a decade of experience in deploying fast charging infrastructure, EVgo has utilized the technical expertise of its engineering team at the Innovation Lab. As part of its Connect the Watts™ initiative, EVgo has also released a best practice guide on charger reliability. This comprehensive document addresses ecosystem-wide issues to enhance charger reliability, emphasizing improvements in codes and standards, vehicle interoperability, and more.
How Things Are Working Out
In addition to its efforts in improving network uptime through the ReNew program, EVgo is now also tracking the success rates of “One & Done” charging sessions. This metric provides a more nuanced understanding of the customer experience compared to a standalone uptime measurement. By analyzing the One & Done rates, EVgo can identify the root causes of unsuccessful charging attempts, whether they are related to charging equipment, vehicle interoperability, customer education, or other factors. EVgo aims to achieve a One & Done success rate of over 95% by the end of 2023.
Their new program seems to be paying off, as the “one and done” rate is now up 6% compared to January. Given that plugging in once and getting a successful charge is what EV drivers demand, this is important.
“We launched EVgo ReNew in January because we know charging infrastructure reliability is key to strengthening consumer confidence in EVs and propelling the massive market transformation needed to achieve an all-electric future,” said Dennis Kish, Chief Operating Officer at EVgo. “EVgo is creating the fast charging network that all EV drivers deserve, and we’ll continue to bolster our network to help deliver a truly seamless customer experience for everyone who plugs into an EVgo fast charger.”
We’ve reached out to EVgo to see if they have any information about the success of the educational efforts, and will update readers when we hear back.
Featured image provided by EVgo.
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