Electrify America is a bit of a two-edged sword. For non-Tesla EVs, the company’s chargers have enabled many people to be able to consider an EV at all, and road that were highly impractical are now totally doable. But, at the same time, the history of Dieselgate and the company’s reliability problems have been a major drag. It’s not a stretch to say that the failures led to the death of CCS1 in the United States.
2023 continued this mixed story, and a recent infographic released by the company gives us a great opportunity to look back and see how it’s going. Obviously, this image comes from EA, so it’s going to tell the good side, but I’ll respond to that after. (article continues after the infographic)
Let’s start with the numbers. The company says it now has over 900 stations with over 4,000 DCFC stalls, which is a pretty big number. These chargers are spread across 47 U.S. states, Washington, DC, and five Canadian provinces.
But, the other side of that coin is the company’s upgrade effort, which needs to be put in context. Out of over 4,000 chargers, only around 680 have been upgraded. This is extremely important because the main cause of the company’s charging failures was that the first stations just couldn’t handle the stress of regular use. This problem popped up in California first (leading to me being very skeptical of the stories), but then spread into other states as the chargers aged.
For this reason, the upgrade to the newest stations started at the most used ones, which caused a lot of trouble for people who depended on those stations. On the other hand, these newer stations have helped improve reliability in most cases.
How do we know the improvement plan is working? The number of sessions has gone up significantly while complaints have been slowly falling. The number of sessions has gone up over 110% from 2022 to 2023, and the amount of electricity dispensed went up around 85%. This tracks well with EV sales growth. Most importantly (in the fine print), the company’s newest station designs require around 80% fewer service dispatches than the older designs.
I’d like to see more data on how often charging works on the first try and how often it fails repeatedly, but this is a good indicator that the newer designs are working better. This also means that reliability should continue to steadily improve as the upgrades spread across the network.
Another improvement made is in people. Tech staff has increased 72% from 2022 to 2023, and staff at the network operation center (NOC) has gone up 47%. Technician training has improved a lot, too, which means faster repairs and maintenance work. The staff also works with customers, the industry, charger manufacturers, and automotive manufacturers in a variety of ways (see the infographic for all of them).
What about 2024 and 2025?
The most important thing is that the company plans to continue to upgrade its chargers. We’ve seen in the past that a lot of the Dieselgate money the company’s spending in California will go toward upgrades instead of new builds. Stations will also be expanded, start having NACS ports, get idle fees, get more plug and charge, and expand to new sites. So, there’s a lot of improvement to come!
But, we’ll have to wait and see whether it brings them up to snuff in a charging world where everyone will soon have access to the Supercharger network.
Featured image by Electrify America.