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Non Tesla charging station reliability

I recently got the CCS adapter for my Model 3 and I decided to drive around to find an Electrify America station to test it. There are 5 stations within 5 miles of me. The first station all the CCS positions were taken, The 2nd there was one CCS station available, but I kept getting an error after following all the directions for plugging in. The third had “unavailable” signs on the screens of all the CCS positions, and the 4th also had all the CCS positions occupied. I gave up and didn’t go to the 5th. I created an account and linked it to my credit card prior to starting this and even had some introductory credit in the new account.

Are EA station experiences typically like this? Additionally, at every station at least one stall was not working which represented sometimes 25% non availability :(

According to my Tessie app, I’ve supercharged 15 times in the 8 months I’ve had the Model 3, and in every case, there were plenty of spots available and no out of order chargers (one station was being built so that doesn’t count lol!)

I was seriously considering buying a Lucid Aire Touring, but now, not so sure. Tesla supercharger network is definitely a HUGE aspect of the Tesla brand!
 

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RayK

Safety Score 90 (Was 96!)
Apr 5, 2016
3,162
3,304
San Jose, CA
So far my only experiences with EA stations were when they offered free charging (basically national holidays). I have a CHAdeMO adapter; my car is not yet CCS compatible so this may not apply - CCS being more plentiful than CHAdeMO. There are three EA sites near me that I've used and out of the 7 or 8 times I've tried charging, I believe only one time the station was offline. There was another time that the station that had the CHAdeMO connector was being used (with CCS) so I had to go to another site (which was available).
 
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So far my only experiences with EA stations were when they offered free charging (basically national holidays). I have a CHAdeMO adapter; my car is not yet CCS compatible so this may not apply - CCS being more plentiful than CHAdeMO. There are three EA sites near me that I've used and out of the 7 or 8 times I've tried charging, I believe only one time the station was offline. There was another time that the station that had the CHAdeMO connector was being used (with CCS) so I had to go to another site (which was available).
I'm thinking my experience might have been a little bit of bad luck, (I'm going to try again today) but I would use a Lucid for longer road trips just for the sheer comfort and range, but it makes me nervous that the EA chargers aren't as plentiful as Tesla Superchargers by far... Not certain when Tesla is going to open up the Supercharger network to everyone, but a big part of me doesn't want them to :)
 
We took a small road trip with rented Mustang Mach E. At our first charge stop the only CCS fast charger for miles didn't work. I called the service number and they were unable to communicate with the charger. They said the last successful charge was about two months before and they would have to send someone out to fix it. Gee thanks!

Luckily I only needed this charge to avoid having to charge soon after arriving at our destination. I was able to make it to the fast charger about 30 minutes from our destination by rerouting and it was a decent experience during our stay. This was in Boone, NC, before the Supercharger there was operational. So that was the lone benefit of the Mach E for us. There were limited opportunities for slow charging.

On our way back we stopped at an impossible to find place that actually had two fast chargers. The one I tried first didn't work. The second one was OK.

Our final charge before returning the rental took three tries to get started.

Happily we were able to rent Teslas the rest of our trip.
 

avs007

Active Member
May 14, 2021
1,374
1,259
PacNW
That's par for the course. Earlier in the summer I drove to SF, and used EA exclusively. Thst trip worked fine, and I saved a bundle. Only issue was the drive back, because the EA in Springfield, half the chargers were busted, so I went to a nearby super charger because it was full.

I made the same road trip again a month later. Only used a single EA stop that trip, because I found EA to be in much worse shape this time around. The one EA stop I went to, the cables were cut on the stall I used previously. The other 350 stall was busted. The two 150 stalls had busted thermal sensors, so would only charge at 35kw. So I switched to the SC in the same parking lot. During the drive, I saw on plugshare that all the EA stops I used last time, were mostly busted this time, with most locations showing that they would only charge at 35kw.

On the first trip, in average 1 of 4 EA stalls were busted. On this trip, on average 2 of 4 and sometimes 3 of 4 stalls were busted. It was pathetic. I was glad I didn't have to depend on CCS for my road trips.
 
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I have the plugshare app! I didn’t use it though because, I was just assuming that EA’s own app would be most accurate with their chargers, and they aren’t :(
You should definitely use Plugshare. EA's app might mention if a station is offline/unavailable. That doesn't mean that the ones w/o that are actually working.
I recently got the CCS adapter for my Model 3 and I decided to drive around to find an Electrify America station to test it. There are 5 stations within 5 miles of me. The first station all the CCS positions were taken, The 2nd there was one CCS station available, but I kept getting an error after following all the directions for plugging in. The third had “unavailable” signs on the screens of all the CCS positions, and the 4th also had all the CCS positions occupied. I gave up and didn’t go to the 5th. I created an account and linked it to my credit card prior to starting this and even had some introductory credit in the new account.

Are EA station experiences typically like this?
No. But I always check Plugshare first if charging is important/critical and I intend to pay for it (vs. when they're set to complimentary session).

EA also has 4 different vendors for DC FCs: BTC Power (2 styles now), Signet (2 styles), ABB, Efacec (they may not be using the any longer/much as many got ripped out and replaced by ones from another vendor). Each of these (including the 2 styles I mentioned) look physically different.

I've never personally seen EA Efacec nor BTC Power "v2". I've used EA ABB the least and EA BTC power ("v1") and EA Signet "v2" the most w/my CCS cars (mostly on former and current).

Electrify America Talks Charging Network Problems, Has Solutions might be insightful.
 

RTPEV

Active Member
Mar 21, 2016
1,930
2,650
Durham, NC
I have a few different perspectives on this. Most of my road trips have been in a Tesla, so I can draw very accurate comparisons to the Supercharger network. But I also have taken a long (1800 miles) road trip--an almost identical road trip to one I've taken a few times in the Tesla even--in my wife's ID.4, so I've had experience with non-Tesla networks (mostly EA) as well. I also track non-Tesla sites very closely as part of my fastcharger.info project, so I'm familiar with the size and expansion rate of the other networks, as well as seeing their reliability as I check Plugshare entries of all sites that are added, removed, or updated.

The road trip we took was about 16 months ago, so a bit dated, but on that trip we visited 9 different sites (visiting one site twice). This was a mix of busy highway corridors and more rural chargers (including one lonely 24kW ChargePoint charger that apparently is no longer functional).

At no time were we unable to get a charge at all at any of the stops, and while there weren't a lot of alternatives, this may have been partly due to the fact that I had pre-researched our stops and planned for highest chances of success. Two of the stops, however, were much longer than they should have been (by about 45 minutes each). At the first stop (a 4 stall EA site), one of the stalls was out of order, and we pulled up and plugged into the last available stall. It would not give us more than about 50kW, however, so when another stall opened up, we tried to move to it, and things went a bit south. I think the system didn't recognize that we had unplugged from the first, and it took a 20-30 minute call with customer support to get the charge to start on the second stall! But we did eventually get it going. The second stop was also at a 4-stall EA site at an incredibly busy junction (Bedford, PA) with a queue of 3 cars ahead of us. We had to wait our turn and then had similar low speed issues with the stall we were on, but by then the site had pretty much emptied out so we were able to move to a different stall and continue our charge.

I will also note that due to lack of chargers at the time, we did have to divert about 30-45 minutes off the ideal route, however since then, there have been no fewer than 6 new sites added along key parts of the route that would have given us more options as well as avoiding the need for that diversion.

Due to my wife getting free EA charging with her VW, we had to use the app to initiate charging, and at some sites, a stall would show as UNAVAILABLE on the app, even though it was actually working. So this was a bit misleading. There were also several stalls that were down, although many of these were at sites that were not full, so there was no impact to us.

As for general reliability, my impression is that with generally smaller sites (4 stalls), one or two stations that are down wind up causing havoc since that represents a large share of the total site capacity. EA and EVgo tend to also shut down a whole site for upgrades which may take anywhere from several days to weeks. Obviously this would be a disaster in some areas if you show up to have the entire site down for maintenance.

EA had been on a pretty aggressive expansion until about 6 months ago and now it's slowed to a crawl. EVgo continues to expand at a good clip, but they are also pulling out of Walmarts around the country. ChargePoint continues to grow consistently, but I would say lower-quality sites many times at dealerships (and 24kW or 62.5kW chargers at that). Taken in whole, I would say the expansion of the CCS network is growing at least as fast as the Supercharger network, but again, not all of these are targeted at travel corridors, but more at dealerships and shopping centers.

I realize that everyone's specific situation and travel routes are going to experience a different perspective, but I hope this helps with the general case. I will say that I expect the situation to improve quite a bit in the next few years as the charge networks finally get a handle on what makes their reliability so poor, and more non-Tesla EVs on the road will spur further development of charging networks.
 
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I have a few different perspectives on this. Most of my road trips have been in a Tesla, so I can draw very accurate comparisons to the Supercharger network. But I also have taken a long (1800 miles) road trip--an almost identical road trip to one I've taken a few times in the Tesla even--in my wife's ID.4, so I've had experience with non-Tesla networks (mostly EA) as well. I also track non-Tesla sites very closely as part of my fastcharger.info project, so I'm familiar with the size and expansion rate of the other networks, as well as seeing their reliability as I check Plugshare entries of all sites that are added, removed, or updated.

The road trip we took was about 16 months ago, so a bit dated, but on that trip we visited 9 different sites (visiting one site twice). This was a mix of busy highway corridors and more rural chargers (including one lonely 24kW ChargePoint charger that apparently is no longer functional).

At no time were we unable to get a charge at all at any of the stops, and while there weren't a lot of alternatives, this may have been partly due to the fact that I had pre-researched our stops and planned for highest chances of success. Two of the stops, however, were much longer than they should have been (by about 45 minutes each). At the first stop (a 4 stall EA site), one of the stalls was out of order, and we pulled up and plugged into the last available stall. It would not give us more than about 50kW, however, so when another stall opened up, we tried to move to it, and things went a bit south. I think the system didn't recognize that we had unplugged from the first, and it took a 20-30 minute call with customer support to get the charge to start on the second stall! But we did eventually get it going. The second stop was also at a 4-stall EA site at an incredibly busy junction (Bedford, PA) with a queue of 3 cars ahead of us. We had to wait our turn and then had similar low speed issues with the stall we were on, but by then the site had pretty much emptied out so we were able to move to a different stall and continue our charge.

I will also note that due to lack of chargers at the time, we did have to divert about 30-45 minutes off the ideal route, however since then, there have been no fewer than 6 new sites added along key parts of the route that would have given us more options as well as avoiding the need for that diversion.

Due to my wife getting free EA charging with her VW, we had to use the app to initiate charging, and at some sites, a stall would show as UNAVAILABLE on the app, even though it was actually working. So this was a bit misleading. There were also several stalls that were down, although many of these were at sites that were not full, so there was no impact to us.

As for general reliability, my impression is that with generally smaller sites (4 stalls), one or two stations that are down wind up causing havoc since that represents a large share of the total site capacity. EA and EVgo tend to also shut down a whole site for upgrades which may take anywhere from several days to weeks. Obviously this would be a disaster in some areas if you show up to have the entire site down for maintenance.

EA had been on a pretty aggressive expansion until about 6 months ago and now it's slowed to a crawl. EVgo continues to expand at a good clip, but they are also pulling out of Walmarts around the country. ChargePoint continues to grow consistently, but I would say lower-quality sites many times at dealerships (and 24kW or 62.5kW chargers at that). Taken in whole, I would say the expansion of the CCS network is growing at least as fast as the Supercharger network, but again, not all of these are targeted at travel corridors, but more at dealerships and shopping centers.

I realize that everyone's specific situation and travel routes are going to experience a different perspective, but I hope this helps with the general case. I will say that I expect the situation to improve quite a bit in the next few years as the charge networks finally get a handle on what makes their reliability so poor, and more non-Tesla EVs on the road will spur further development of charging networks.
Thank you for the very complete and insightful report! This unfortunately adds a little to my anxiety. While I love the idea of getting a Lucid Aire Grand Touring. I think the glow of the longer range and "luxury" would pale quickly next to continuously dismal charging experiences on longer trips (Why I would get the car in the first place) While it's very true that there will be a lot of expansion of the EA and other non Tesla charging choices, the number of EVs, I predict, will keep pace with almost any level of expansion; So, like inflation, you get a raise, but everything gets more expensive at the same time. Additionally, unlike Tesla, other alternatives for charging seem to respond to the EV population and being barely "adequate" instead EV convenience and future proofing :( I'm thinking the experience of pulling up to a 30 stall Tesla Supercharger station with 3 cars in it is not ever going to be replicated by an EA charging station in the next decade.

When the time comes. I might end up just getting the longest range X available to replace my ICE SUV. You can't put too high a premium on eliminating range and charging anxiety; which the Tesla does for me in spades!
 

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