I recently went for a drive with a representative of the Canadian Fuels Association, an industry group that represents gas retailers across the country, like Shell and Petro-Canada.
What started as a conversation about public electric vehicle charging stations among its membership, soon morphed into a discussion about how frustrating it can be for an EV owner to show up at a charger only to discover it isn’t working. Especially when those stations are at key sites or among the fastest in the industry, like at many Petro-Canada locations.
EV owners have reported frustrations when it comes to the reliability of public charging stations, and it is has gotten to the point where those that install them are doing more harm than good if those stations are not working. These are not isolated concerns either, as two recently released studies found.
A Pollution Probe study released in June 2022, and commissioned by the Canadian government, polled 1,600 EV drivers and found that one-in-five of them reported arriving at an out-of-service charging station. Among Ontario drivers, it was 30 per cent, compared to 12 in Quebec. As well, 43 per cent of those polled have concerns about being stranded because of non-working chargers.
In San Francisco, researchers with the University of California Berkley tested 181 non-Tesla quick charging
stations and found issues with 27 per cent of them. Of those that worked, random follow-up visits over the next eight days revealed 10 per cent had “no overall change in functionality.”
The city of Toronto and Toronto Hydro announced more than 500 charging stations planned for 2024, much of it with federal funding, but hasn’t released any details on how they will keep them maintained. With more than $400 million committed by the federal government in its 2022 budget toward charging infrastructure, hopefully that amount also includes money for maintaining its planned 50,000 stations.
Michael Bettencourt bought his first EV in late 2011 and has followed the Canadian EV scene ever since. Follow him on Twitter @MCBet10court