Electric Vehicle Charging Comes With Complaints

While some cities continue to push for EV legislation, drivers are dissatisfied with infrastructure.

August 17, 2023

EV charging efforts ramp up at the federal level, but drivers of EVs are less than satisfied. Even with the addition of 6,300 fast chargers last year, three-fourths of which are Tesla Superchargers, J.D. Power reported “customer satisfaction with public Level 2 charging is down 16 points to 617 on a 1,000-point scale, the lowest level since the study began in 2021. Satisfaction with fast chargers declined even further and is down 20 points to 654,” according to USA Today.

With low satisfaction rates, widespread adoption and acceptance could be impeded, Brent Gruber, executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power, notes.

Level 2 chargers take four to 10 hours to charge an EV from empty to 80% while DC fast chargers can provide the same amount of energy in about 20 minutes. The study surveyed over 15,000 owners of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles and measured factors such as ease of use and charging speed, availability and convenience and cost of the service.

Gruber identifies new users’ transitional discomfort as a reason for the low marks, “There’s a big learning curve there. And we’re seeing that consumers that are new to EVs have particular issues with the usability.”

According to USA Today, “EV drivers say they’re dissatisfied with the amount of time it takes to charge their vehicles and with reliability. J.D. Power’s study found that 20% of users say they visited a charger but did not use it for various reasons, including long lines and broken equipment.”

Seattle recently passed legislation enabling Seattle City Light, the city’s public electricity utility company, to lease private property to install and operate its own public EV chargers. The new law will also allow private companies to lease City Light’s EV charging property to build out their own charging infrastructure, according to GeekWire.

The legislation helps progress the city’s Climate Action Plan which outlines the goal of reducing passenger vehicle emissions to 83% of 2008 levels by 2030 and zero emission by 2050.

“For the city to meet its climate goals, we really need these public-private partnerships to scale,” said Angela Song, transportation electrification portfolio manager for City Light. According to Song, Seattle has about 1,100 charging stations but needs to reach 8,000 by 2030.