Letters to the Editor: How experienced EV owners avoid being stranded on a road trip
To the editor: If I didn’t already own an electric car, and I read Times reporter Russ Mitchell’s description of public charging station woes, I would probably never buy an EV. But fortunately, I have my own experiences to draw from.
First, 99% of charging done by EV owners is at home. The problems in the article occur only on road trips, which test the limits of electric cars and the charging infrastructure.
This summer, my wife and I decided to test the charging network for ourselves by driving from Long Beach to Colorado and back in our 2021 Hyundai Kona EV. We planned our route ahead of time and read messages from other EV owners about which stations were working in several charging network apps.
Initially, I had trouble connecting to Electrify America chargers, but after two calls to the company, during which I was immediately connected to a representative, I was able to connect and charge without delay.
There’s a value in holding these new charging companies accountable to providing good service. But since this is a developing technology, I guess I didn’t expect the charging network to be dropped from the sky in perfect working condition.
Philip Reed, Long Beach
The writer is automotive editor for Nerdwallet.com.
To the editor: We conducted the study cited in this article on public charging stations and found that about a quarter of them were not functional.
Many of us are satisfied by charging our EVs at home. But people who take long trips or live in apartments, where they cannot charge at home, rely on public charging. Broken stations take on a whole different meaning when traveling long distances or when trying to fuel up to get to work or drop the kids at school. Broken public chargers are an equity issue.
It is critical that new federal regulations for a national public charging network are as strong as possible, with field testing, data transparency, third-party verification and fines if the stations don’t work.
Billions of dollars will be spent to install thousands of stations in the next three years. Let’s make sure our taxpayer dollars are well spent and the new standards result in reliable and equitable charging for all.
Carleen Cullen, Greenbrae, Calif.
David Rempel, Berkeley
Cullen is executive director of Cool the Earth; Rempel is a professor emeritus of bioengineering at UC Berkeley.
To the editor: I recently drove from Los Angeles to Portland and faced every issue cited in this article, plus more.
Many stations are unsheltered from the sun, causing their touchscreens to malfunction. Some also offer no access to restrooms. A charging station in Oregon (part of the West Coast Electric Highway) was in the parking lot of a motel, and I was refused entry and told to cross a highway to use the restrooms at a Flying J truck stop.
In addition, though some stations offer troubleshooting, some have long wait times for assistance or, worse, use only answering services on the weekend.
What’s more, there is no consistency in pricing for fast charging. At a Chargepoint station near Mt. Shasta, I paid double what I did in Coalinga.
I am very happy to have my Chevy Bolt, but it is hard for me to get excited about any road trip longer than 100 miles knowing that I will face these challenges.
Lindsay Hansen Brown, Canoga Park
To the editor: I have had my 2014 Nissan Leaf for five years and have used paid public charging stations fewer than 10 times. I never count on them working for a longer trip because I have always run into problems. The paid chargers should abandon their unreliable smartphone apps and just allow you to pay on site with a credit card.
The most reliable chargers are the ones that are free, as long as you can get one when you happen to need it. I charge up at home 99.5% of the time.
And if the trip is too long for the limited range on my Leaf, I take the gas guzzler.
Bess Fanning, Los Angeles