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Study Finds Electric Vehicle Owners Are Frustrated By Charging Station Reliability

Drivers in regions with high electric vehicle adoption rates are becoming increasingly frustrated by inadequate and non-functioning charging stations, according to a study by J.D. Power.

J.D. Power’s second annual U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Public Charging Study found that despite a rising number of public charging stations in high volume electric vehicle (EV) markets such as California, Texas and Washington customer satisfaction with public Level 2 charging has declined from last year, dropping to 633 – on a 1,000-point scale – from 643 in 2021, while satisfaction with the speedier direct current (DC) fast charger segment remains flat at 674.

“Public charging continues to provide challenges to overall EV adoption and current EV owners alike,” Brent Gruber, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “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 J.D. Power study measured electric vehicle owners’ satisfaction with public Level 2 charging stations and with DC fast charger stations across a range of factors, including ease of use, speed of charging, cost of charging, ease of payment; ease of finding a charging location, things to do while charging, safety of a location, charger availability, and physical condition of a charging location.

While most electric vehicle owners were relatively satisfied with the ease of charging, the cost of charging drew lower satisfaction scores, 473 for DC fast chargers and 446 for Level 2 chargers.

Drivers also were dissatisfied with aspects of the charging experience. The study found that one of every five respondents decided not to charge their vehicle during their visit, mostly because the station malfunctioned or was out of service.

The study also found that electric vehicle owner satisfaction regarding the availability of public charging stations differed by region. California and the Pacific region have the highest number of public chargers, but those regions also have the highest concentration of electric vehicle owners, and they are not as satisfied with the availability and condition of public chargers as owners in other areas, the study found.

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. And the East North Central region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) had the highest level of satisfaction with the condition of public chargers.

The study found that Tesla Level 2 charging stations ranked highest with a score of 680 while Volta ranked second with a score of 667, and ChargePoint chargers ranked third with a score of 639. Tesla’s fast DC charging stations ranked highest with a score of 739 and was the only DC fast charger brand to rank above industry average.

Simply adding charging stations is not the answer, however, “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,” Gruber said. “Then, we need to make sure those stations are reliable.”