Among the main criticisms reported by users of plug-in vehicles, the catastrophic state of public charging stations stands out. Most electric vehicle users charge at home or in the office. But to increase your range, there is no choice, you need to recharge at a terminal. Not an easy experience.
One of the three terminals down
A sentiment that is confirmed by the numbers. According to Afirev, the French association for charging electric vehicles in roaming, which created its observatory, one in four public terminals has malfunctions. A reality that has great consequences.
In its 2021 study, the association recalls that 76% of users found a charging station out of order in the last six months. They are up to 80% of having been faced with a charging problem during this same period. Only 73% of charging points are available 99% of the time. Finally, only 73% of loading sessions are successfully launched.
That means you have almost a one in three chance of encountering a terminal that doesn’t work.
Networks not always accessible
Finding a terminal that works is no guarantee of being able to load there. In fact, there are a multitude of collection networks, public or private, and almost as many commercial policies.
What do all these terminals have in common? They are still too rare to accept bank cards. Charging electric vehicles is one of the last products that cannot be paid for with a bank card.
Chargemap cards or certain cards provided by car manufacturers allow access to most terminals across France, but this does not always work.
Once you’ve found a working terminal where you can plug your car into a compatible outlet that accepts your subscription card, the hardest part still needs to be done.
In some terminals, understanding how the terminal works seems reserved for users with an engineering background. Instructions for use are missing or indecipherable, and launching the payload can take several minutes. Do not trust the telephone service, there is little chance of being answered.
Sometimes charging stops for no reason and other times the charging gun cannot be unlocked from the vehicle after charging is complete. A misfortune that has happened to us several times during the tests of electric vehicles. Sometimes you have to repeat the maneuver five or ten times before you see the weapon unlocked.
Once charging begins, one of the biggest problems with electrical terminals remains: the opaque price. In front of a petrol station, you are given a price per liter, which you simply have to multiply by the desired number of liters or by the maximum capacity of your tank. With an electric vehicle it gets more complicated.
In most terminals, the price is not indicated, making recharge the only consumer good for which we do not know what the final bill will be. This price, often indicated very small in the terminal’s submenus, is often hidden. Worse, when it is indicated, we realize that it is expressed in minutes. Therefore, it is impossible to know the actual price per kWh.
A problem that, however, tends to disappear. Operator Ionity, one of the most established in France for fast terminals, has just moved from billing by kWh and no longer by time spent. But in these same terminals, the charging fee can vary from single to quadruple, depending on the brand of your vehicle or your possible subscription. Transparency is still a long way off.