I’ve said in previous posts that traveling in an EV can be framed as an intentional adventure, uneventful and successful trip one charge from home, and in some cases “back side of the moon.”I throw in the nightmare stories just because there’s one thing at AIRE we’ve never been shy about and that’s telling the truth. Even as EV owners/advocates knowing that we need rapid and wide adoption, we hope critique helps.
My Boone to Asheville round trips have become routine until recently. Roughly 90 miles of mountainous driving require a full-ish charge before leaving on either end. The charging was always reliable in Asheville until back in the winter when the Biltmore Ave. CHADeMO charger began showing “network errors.” My Plan B was to drop down to the Charlotte Street version. I gave up on Biltmore Ave. after consistent “network errors” over the course of a few weeks. I tried again today just for the hell of it– NETWORK ERROR…!!! Now, Plan B has jumped on the “network error” bandwagon evidently. So I charged on a ChargePoint level 2 at the same location while I sorted through my frustrations and contemplated Plan C, which was an Electrify America a few miles away and a gazillion cars stuck in traffic. After about 5 repeats on my own to break through yet another network error, I finally called for a life line and spend 39 minutes on the phone with network support. Yet again after repeated attempts by the tech person on the other end, NETWORK ERROR. The tech support person was super nice, apologized and offered me a free charge next time. But now I needed a Plan D.
Being 90 mountain miles from home and needing juice to get home, I went back into downtown where, behold, I was ICED by an unplugged EV in the space. Another Leaf in the charger spot not plugged in, so I crudely tested to see if I had enough cord to stretch over another plugged in Leaf, confirmed and began to charge. Second of 2 failed charging attempts downtown. Being a level 2 and knowing I’m now committed for a good while, I’m now sitting in a coffee shop having an iced hibiscus tea and telling this story.
I don’t know if I’m hallucinating (it is a little warm in Asheville today), but I’ve noticed a trend where the networks seem to be fragile and unreliable. I’ve also noticed that chargers that were once always available are now often occupied. If EV’s are going to be adopted quickly on mass scale the charge networks have to up their game. The alternative that somewhat amelerates the reliability problem is to have more range. A little more would help a lot in reaching the periphery of my primary regional destinations. A lot more would be game-changing! Rest assured the game is changing fast, but these charging headaches…..I wonder what it was like when gas stations were a new thing during the horse and buggy transition?