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EV drivers’ frustration with charging options is at an all-time high: report

Aug 17, 2023


Electric vehicle (EV) drivers’ frustration with charging options has hit a new all-time high. According to a recent study from J.D. Power, EV consumer satisfaction with public Level 2 charging has reached its lowest point since data collection first began in 2021. Meanwhile, drivers reported an even sharper decrease in their approval of fast chargers.

“It’s really a cautionary statement – this is not good. And if we keep doing what we’re doing, it’s going to get much worse,” said Brent Gruber, executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power. “The declining customer satisfaction scores for public charging should be concerning to automakers and, more broadly, to public charging stakeholders.”

The research by J.D. Power took into account a variety of factors when measuring customer satisfaction with chargers, including convenience of location, cost, the physical condition of chargers, and charging speed. The report found that many EV drivers are unhappy with the amount of time it takes to charge and the reliability of these charging stations.

This comes as the White House has been pushing to expand EV charging stations in the United States, with President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law earmarking over $7 billion for this goal. The International Energy Agency said these efforts resulted in more than 6,000 new fast chargers being installed throughout the nation last year. EV experts are hopeful this spending push will help increase consumer satisfaction rates in the long run.

“This funding opportunity will dramatically increase the number of charging stations in communities that need them most,” said Ben Prochazka, executive director at the Electrification Coalition. 

“The program is prioritizing the right groups,” said Samantha Houston, a senior vehicles analyst for the Clean Transportation program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It will target gaps in accessibility.”

About three-fourths of the chargers installed through U.S. government funding in 2022 were Tesla superchargers, which the J.D. Power report found ranked No. 1 in driver approval among fast chargers for the third consecutive year.

These superchargers can power up an EV battery from zero to 80% in as little as 20 minutes, compared to the four to 10 hours it takes for a Level 2 charger to do the same.

Officials close to this study have also pointed to the learning curve associated with new EV drivers transitioning away from traditional gas powered vehicles as being part of what is causing low consumer raters. While gas stations offer a fairly uniform experience across different brands, EV charging stations vary in their payment methods offered and accessibility.

With a record number of new EVs having been sold in the previous quarter of 2023, experts believe these factors could be affecting a larger number of consumers than usual, potentially causing this higher rate of unhappy drivers.

“There’s a big learning curve there. And we’re seeing that consumers that are new to EVs have particular issues with the usability,” Gruber said. “You have newer owners who are trying to adjust to this new way of owning a vehicle and not necessarily in line with our expectations for how quick charging should be. We want it to be fast and we want it to be easy to use. And right now, that’s not the case.”  

Developments aimed at easing the burden on consumers during charging include an agreement by Ford and General Motors to integrate Tesla charging technology into their vehicles starting in 2025. This means that faster chargers will be available to a larger number of consumers than ever before, offering a possible solution to some consumer complaints.

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