Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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New Study Reveals Alarming EV Charger Flaws in U.S.

A new study from Harvard Business School and Georgia Institute of Technology has emerged, pointing out striking challenges electric vehicle drivers face in the U.S., nearly one in five EV chargers can’t be used. That is part of a wider problem with infrastructure for EV charging, a precondition to meet the Biden administration’s aggressive goal of half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. being electric by 2030.

gray electric car parked on a charging bay
Photo by Kindel Media on

The researchers in this study applied artificial intelligence to more than a million reviews of fast-charging stations located all across North America, Europe, and Asia, all dated within a span of the last ten years. The result from this research leaves EV drivers capable of counting on a nonresidential charging system only 78 percent of the time, a critical reliability concern. “Imagine if you go to a traditional gas station and two out of 10 times the pumps are out of order. Consumers would revolt.”

Beyond the reliability concerns, the study noted that EV charging station pricing is highly variable and often opaque. Whereas fuel at a gas station is always available at a real-time price, EV charging is very dynamic, depending on several variables involved, like the type of charger, demand conditions at the location, or even the time of day. Some have different prices for different plug types; others offer conditional pricing based on membership or subscription status. This inconsistency leaves many EV drivers in a situation where they are not clear about what to expect when they arrive at a charging station.

It also pointed out “charging deserts,” that is, areas having no charging facilities at all in states that have a high number of registered EVs. Consider this: Washington state is fourth in EV registrations, while Ferry County is one of its counties that has lost its only charging station. Virginia County, Wise County, ranks 11th in EV registration with no public chargers available.

Another issue noted is “ICEing,” where internal combustion engine vehicles take up spaces reserved for EV charging, further complicating access for EV drivers. Asensio shared a story about his mom. He said she decided not to sell her vehicle to an EV because it wasn’t due to the price but due to the inconvenience of charging.

Despite all that, the Biden administration intends to expand the EV infrastructure. Commitment: In 2030, there will be at least 500,000 public chargers across the country. Notwithstanding this commitment, progress has been very slow; less than 100 EV charging points have so far been made available, which is very pathetic. At a recent hearing, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon described the pace of deployment as “pathetic” and further termed it a “vast administrative failure.”

Transportation Secretary Buttigieg and other administration officials have said that the program has faced a mix of challenges working with states to deploy the chargers, predicting thousands will come online by the end of this year.

These issues of reliability and accessibility in EV charging have become a concern as the nation gears itself toward a future dominated by EVs. Research is an instructive reminder that there is a need for major improvements in EV charging before it turns out as convenient and reliable as conventional methods of fueling.

More for you:

  • 1 in 5 EV Chargers in America Don’t Work, Harvard Study Finds.
  • EV chargers face significant reliability and accessibility problems, Harvard study finds.

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