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Discussion Starter #1
OK, so let me preface this post with a caveat: I do not currently own an EV. I expect to buy a Bolt EV next year when they become available, but I have absolutely no prior experience with the EV charging infrastructure.

However, as an outsider looking in, things seem to be awfully complicated - not just with the different connectors, standards and charging rates, but even with the simple ability to drive up to a charger and use it. I never have to worry with gas stations - I just drive up, pump my gas, and pay by cash or credit card. But the situation with EV chargers seems to be a lot more complex. It seems like with a lot of these you're out of luck unless you've had to foresight to sign up for an account in advance. For example, this article on EV charging networks says:

  • ChargePoint is the biggest charging network, so it’s a must for nearly all EV drivers.
  • If you live in Pacific Northwest, get a key fob from Aerovironment for its AV Subscription Network.
  • In Texas, it's generally better to pay as you go with ChargePoint and Blink, rather than opting for multi-year expensive contracts with eVgo—unless you want to splurge for the convenience of an all-you-can-charge plan and, at this time, the ability to access DC fast charging.
  • On the east coast, SemaConnect is the best backup to ChargePoint.
...and since I'm in Canada I'm sure there's a whole other set of stuff to deal with up here

Now I'll undoubtedly do the vast majority of my charging at home. Still, I'd like to go out on the road from time to time, and I'd sure prefer not to have to engage in doctorate-level research in order to do it (OK, slight exaggeration but you get my drift).

Am I the only one who thinks that all these chargers should just have a credit card or NFC payment reader so that you can drive up, charge and pay without a whole lot of hassle? If they can do it for parking meters then surely they can do it for EV chargers...
 

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Its not really that complicated ..... I have 4 different apps on my phone and each of those can be reached via browser on your PC too.

  1. Plugshare - shows details of where various types of charging stations are, what kind they are, and whether they are free or paid. You can sign up for a free account but I think you can also use it without: http://www.plugshare.com/
  2. ChargePoint - also shows details of various types of charging stations including both free and paid ones. Some of these stations may require a chargepoint card to use them, even if it is free. Sign up with chargepoint and they should send you the first couple of cards for free. just activate them online and you are good to go if you need them (I have never had to use them so far): https://na.chargepoint.com/
  3. OpenCharge Map - another list of stations, this time crowd sourced so there may be more info here (sometimes): http://openchargemap.org/site/
  4. CAA - The CAA provides free charging stations at most of its locations too and yet another map to check: http://www.caa.ca/evstations/
there are a few other ones, and some specific only to the US, but bottom line is that the ones I listed above will likely show you most if not all the stations in Canada, paid or otherwise.
 

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Just a terminology clarification: "charger" vs. Charge Station, Charge Cord, EVSE

Charger-vs.-EVSE.jpg Charger-vs.-EVSE 2.jpg
 

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I agree, I think it should be as simple as buying gas, any station, anywhere, no membership required.

When I finally get my Volt, I probably won't bother charging anywhere but home. 90% of the time I won't go beyond the battery's range, and on the 10% of trips where I do, the odds that a charging station is (1) convenient to my destination, (2) unoccupied, (3) properly functioning, and (4) reasonably priced (less $ per mile than gas) are still too low to put any effort into it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That looks promising, I'm going to have to look around to see if that's progressed or not...


Its not really that complicated ..... I have 4 different apps on my phone and each of those can be reached via browser on your PC too.
Really? "4 different apps" is not that complicated? Do you think that Chevron is likely to come out and say "sorry, you can only buy gas from us if you install an app on your phone"?
 

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EV charging is developing like Cell phone networks in that it will be a regional membership initially. Only when the regional concerns merge or take over other networks will there be true, national plans available.
 

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The OP is correct. A Bolt cannot be charged at a Chademo or Tesla station, so, it is complex for a new owner wanting to travel beyond 100mi of their home. Fortunately, L2 chargers are pretty much standardized on J1772 SAE.
 

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I've had a plug in hybrid vehicle since 2012... I'm looking forward to the 200+ mi Bolt so I can charge primarily at home and forego public charging altogether.

Our local ChargePoint station has been "off the grid" for almost a year now- it doesn't show up on ChargePoint's maps, nor any apps... and I can't get charging status from it...but somehow it still charges the car. Apparently, it's not communicating with the Chargepoint mother ship any longer via it's cell modem. When I inquire about it- it's like a closely guarded national secret... no one knows who owns or is responsible for it- it has a scrolling message on it's screen for a year now stating "Decommissioned" When you call the phone number on it you get the county engineer's voicemail number- and he's not returning calls. It now takes almost 60sec to authorize my fob since it's not communicating with Chargepoint ... it's authorizing from internal memory only- which I've been told will eventually fill up and that will be the end of the station. It's on borrowed time...

Besides the crippled station above, I also occasionally get ICE'd or another EV basically "parks" there plugged in for the full 8hr duration so I miss a charge for that day, or they plow the snow into the corner parking stall where the Chargepoint station is, or they randomly put an orange cone in the stall, or, etc....
I'll be more than happy to abandon public charging asap!
 

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Really? "4 different apps" is not that complicated? Do you think that Chevron is likely to come out and say "sorry, you can only buy gas from us if you install an app on your phone"?
The (4) apps are for information only, for convenience if you will, i dont have to have them to use the actual charging station. If you dont want to use them to locate available stations near you that is your call.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The OP is correct. A Bolt cannot be charged at a Chademo or Tesla station, so, it is complex for a new owner wanting to travel beyond 100mi of their home. Fortunately, L2 chargers are pretty much standardized on J1772 SAE.
Yeah, but I (the OP) am not even talking about plug compatibility, I'm talking about all the different memberships/apps you need in order to activate chargers on different networks and get some juice out of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The (4) apps are for information only, for convenience if you will, i dont have to have them to use the actual charging station. If you dont want to use them to locate available stations near you that is your call.
But what about paying? I can't "pay at the pump", so don't I need to sign up for memberships on all these networks? And once I've done that, don't I need four different ways to authorize payment at the charging stations?
 

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But what about paying?
I have a ChargePoint card. ChargePoint has my CC. Otherwise, charge stations will typically have a phone number listed that you can call to pay or unlock for charging.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I have a ChargePoint card. ChargePoint has my CC. Otherwise, charge stations will typically have a phone number listed that you can call to pay or unlock for charging.
But you had to set that up before you arrived at the charge station. The thing I worry about is road trips where you're depending on being able to use the only CCS DCFC available in 150 mile radius. Saying that a charge station will "typically" have a phone number listed or suddenly discovering I should have created an account doesn't really sound all that convincing to me when the alternative might mean an overnight stay at a slow charger or a tow.

It's not so bad for local chargers because you get to know their quirks and can probably drive home if you need to. But on the road you're encountering new chargers for the first time and are necessarily a lot more dependent on them, so that magnifies potential issues like this.

As I said before I have no experience with these things, and it may well be that when I actually get a Bolt EV and start using them I'll get a lot more comfortable with the whole thing. Still, as an outsider it seems unnecessarily complicated. I still don't understand why they don't just put an NFC/credit card reader on the dang things like they do with parking meters or gas pumps.
 

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I agree with the OP, the current situation is just plain silly. It will take a few years, but I think we will get CC readers at all public stations, just like for parking meters.

In the meantime, you just cannot count on one lonely DC fast charger to complete your trip in an EV. Even if you have the membership, It could be broken (often for months!), in use, or ICEd.

The Chevy Volt or a Tesla are really the only long distance options today, other than ICE and hybrid cars.

GSP
 

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Really? "4 different apps" is not that complicated? Do you think that Chevron is likely to come out and say "sorry, you can only buy gas from us if you install an app on your phone"?
Than use PlugShare only. Registering an EVSE or public charger is totally voluntary (mine is registered), so it isn't tied in to any vendor. But if a manufacturer doesn't register its charge stations, you will miss them.
 

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But you had to set that up before you arrived at the charge station. The thing I worry about is road trips where you're depending on being able to use the only CCS DCFC available in 150 mile radius. Saying that a charge station will "typically" have a phone number listed or suddenly discovering I should have created an account doesn't really sound all that convincing to me when the alternative might mean an overnight stay at a slow charger or a tow.
I used the word "typically" because I have not personally seen every charge station in the US. The one's I have seen have all had the option of calling.
 

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I have a ChargePoint card. ChargePoint has my CC. Otherwise, charge stations will typically have a phone number listed that you can call to pay or unlock for charging.
I have a Blink, Chargepoint, eVgo and defunct company card. The last one, whoe name i don't recall, went under after I put a $20 deposit down. One problem I encountered with calling the charger company was cell service. eVgo installed their L2s/DCFCs in the underground parking garage of Whole Foods. When I had problems with the charger, cell phone communication was difficult due to a poor signal. So I had to run to the entrance of the garage and talk with them about the charger problem. Eventually everything worked out.
 

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But you had to set that up before you arrived at the charge station. The thing I worry about is road trips where you're depending on being able to use the only CCS DCFC available in 150 mile radius. Saying that a charge station will "typically" have a phone number listed or suddenly discovering I should have created an account doesn't really sound all that convincing to me when the alternative might mean an overnight stay at a slow charger or a tow.
I do understand what you are saying but really you have to take on some portion of the responsibility of your trip preparation yourself. You cannot rely on others to do it for you or to hand it all to you on a silver plate! As the old saying goes ... failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

All of the steps/apps/sites I listed I would class as optional research/preparation steps or resources and necessary (for me at least) to ensure that barring any unforseen circumstances, any trip I take runs smoothly. Would you go on vacation without doing some research or having your documents and credit cards or cash in order? I doubt it. use the same logic to a long road trip in your car. You dont have to use any of these things, its your own personal choice, but they will make your life a little easier and save you blindly running around looking for a charging station then blaming the infrastructure when you cant find one !

Having a chargepoint card is not necessary, but it is an optional step, and opens up more stations to you. Some 'free' stations even require you to use that card to enable them. If you dont want a membership then dont do it and dont use the chargepoint app to locate stations. simple. Equally, dont signup for a free membership of Plugshare or any other mapping site that - as a free service - conveniently shows you the location of charging stations and provides both a website and an app for you so you can check this from inside your vehicle on the move or plan it out pre-trip.

You might want charging stations to automatically have a credit card reader, and that would be good, and will likely come at some point, but the simple fact of the matter right now is that they dont so you have to do a little work for yourself to get free or low cost 'fuel' for your vehicle ! Also be careful what you wish for ... if every charging station is required to have a credit card reader, how long before those stations that allow you to charge for free start fitting them too and free stations disappear ?
 
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