September 30th, 2020 by Cynthia Shahan
I drive a short-range EV long distances. It takes more time, more days and nights, but it works. I routinely drive what might be a one-day trip in a Tesla or a gasoline car in two or three days. I have done one particular route 5 times, relying on Electrify America stations and a few EVgo stations. I rely on Electrify America simply because the EVgo infrastructure in my part of the country is quite incomplete. For this reason, after the first trip, I gave a thank you to Electrify America. I could not make this trip with EVgo stations alone.
It is important to remember that EV infrastructure is still evolving. Infrastructure will continue to improve. #Patience.
On the other hand, it seems EVgo stations are a lot smoother to use. I find they work immediately, on the first try. A full charging session takes 30–40 mins. It is less time consuming to use them often simply because they are more customer friendly — in the sense that they work right off the bat, without the need to call customer service, as is so often the case at Electrify America stations on the “EV Charging Corridor” along I-95. This has happened to me (for 2 years a least) on 100% of my trips in or out of Florida.
Pricing — Electrify America vs. EVgo
Like my battery prefers slower “level 2” chargers because they do cause too much battery stress, my bank prefers those less expensive slow chargers as well. In general, fast charging is considerably more expensive than “normal” EV charging, and I’m aware this is because fast chargers cost a lot of money, but my EVgo bill shocked me a bit after my most recent trip. I am not comparing it to gas prices. It fares better than fossil fuels. I am simply not used to using the more expensive fast chargers.
Electrify America has new pricing and plans for EV charging, mostly charging 43¢/kWh now or charging 31¢/kWh if you pay a $4 monthly fee. In places where it does charge by the minute, the company says that it has lowered prices, and they now start as low as 12¢ a minute. You have to explore a specific EVgo station to find EVgo pricing, and the result along my route is considerably higher than Electrify America’s, typically 35¢ a minute.
My plan stays the same regardless, due to limited options — a mixture of EV charging stations.
On this familiar 2 or 3 day trip I make in the US Southeast, I have had to voice my dissatisfaction with Electrify America’s station to its customer service staff multiple times. They listened to me for more than a year of frustrating complaints. I can say at least that Electrify America’s customer service is 100% polite, tolerant, and helpful. I’ll come back to that in a moment, but an important thing to note in this pricing section is that there are also time costs, and due to so much trouble at Electrify America stations, I prefer EVgo ones.
Chargers Pulled Offline En Masse
The news regarding this Electrify America route lately is that Electrify America shut down all of its chargers for maintenance during one of the busiest weekends of the year for road trips. Trust me, I know the repairs were long overdue. (I wonder how much my repeated calls and complaints about the stations played into the overdo work. I was surely not the lone caller, though.) Nonetheless, upset does not even cover finding out that the trip you’re on for the holiday weekend is no longer possible … in the midst of it.