Study: Electric car chargers are expanding, broken, frustrating

Many owners of electric cars are happy with their charging experience. But owners in some states are much easier than others. The report Happiest Electric Vehicle (EV) motorists call home may surprise you.
That’s one conclusion from JD Power’s latest study of electric vehicle charging.

America can’t go all-electric for its transportation needs until charging an electric car is as easy as charging a petrol car. The country gets there, but unevenly and in frustrations along the way.

Charging an electric car: everything you need to know

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JD Power analysts measured these frustrations by surveying 11,554 electric vehicle owners about their experiences using public charging stations.

The JD Power US Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) public charging study measured satisfaction with two different types of chargers.

Level 2 Chargers are faster than plugging into an electrical outlet in the home, but it can still take hours to fully charge the batteries of most electric vehicles. They add an average of about 20 miles of range per hour (varies per car). They are sometimes called “destination chargers” because electric vehicle owners tend to recharge at the Level 2 station when they reach their destination.

3 . level Chargers use stronger direct current (DC) and charge faster. It’s not uncommon for electric vehicles to gain 100 miles of range in about 30 minutes on a quick charge, though, again, it’s different for each car. Level 3 chargers are also called DC fast chargers. They are often found along highways to facilitate road trips.

JD Power found that owner satisfaction with Level 2 charging declined between 2021 and 2022—losing 10 points on a 1,000-point scale to drop to 633. Satisfaction with Level 3 charging remained flat at 674.

Biggest complaint? Broken chargers. 20% of owners reported a failed charging attempt recently, and 72% said they encountered a charger that didn’t work.

Tesla owners are more satisfied

Tesla operates its own separate network of chargers that serve only Tesla cars (although the company has promised to open its Supercharger network to others). This approach works well – Tesla owners showed higher satisfaction with the condition of public chargers than users of other corporate networks.

In general, freight networks are expanding. The US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center reports that the number of charging outlets in the US has grown by 13% in just nine months.

This may explain why most owners tell JD Power that they are satisfied with how easy it is to find a charging station.

Satisfaction varies from country to country

There is an advantage in being an early adopter of electric vehicles in many places. California and other Pacific states have more public charging stations than the rest of the country. But they also have more electric cars waiting for them.

The owners who found the charger easier to find, however, lived in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

The people most satisfied with the state of public chargers lived in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

“Public charging continues to pose challenges to mass adoption of electric vehicles and current electric vehicle owners alike,” says Brent Gruber, CEO of Global Vehicles at JD Power.

One thing charging station operators can do to help? Give people something to do while they’re refilling. “No matter how fast their cars charge, electric car owners still report that they need more options to do things during each charging session to enhance comfort and fill in downtime,” Gruber says.

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