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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,
I'm an engineering student studying at the university of nottingham.
I am on my last year and I am currently working on a project title: "usability of charging post for electric vehicles"
The objective of my project is to improve the usability of the charging posts and make it easier for EV owners to use; e.g. develop a user interface so people who use the charging post for the first time have no difficulty in charging their cars.

I am conducting a research at the moment on problems found with charging posts based on real user experience. It would be really grateful if the members of this forum can help me out as part of my research.

If there is anything you dont like about the current charging post OR you wish there were some features that will help improve the usability of the charging posts then please reply to this thread. Your help is very much appreciated.

Thank you :D

Alex N.
 

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Firstly Alex, goodluck in your research, I hope you get lots of replies from the community members of this forum.

Unfortunately I have little experience of public charging posts because pretty much every one I have tried to use is run by a different scheme and I don't have that particular special card to access the socket.

The only comment I could give you is that they should all operate by credit card, whether there is a cost or not.

Regards,
Andy
 

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Thank you for those kind words Alex,

I am experiencing the problem of not owning a vehicle and therefore have no real access to charging points. I strongly hope this forum will provide initial knowledge and real user problem and possibly create new ideas for easier usage!!

CHEERS ANDY :)
 

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Ampera aka IGOR
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Hi Alex
Good luck too. I have only had my car a few weeks but like Andy I would like the posts all under one scheme or cards that could work 'cross platform'. I currently have three cards, awaiting a fourth, but have only been able to use a public charging point once. My first attempt was at Asda in Perth. The instructions supplied by the operator only covered instructions for a 'standard' 13 amp plug but I was trying to use the 16 amp socket but could not get the car to charge. After calling the operator they told me that the socket I needed to use had been set up incorrectly, cover flap needs to be closed but this is impossible with a type 2 plug, and therefore would not initialise the charge. They advised me that they would look into the issue as it seems to have been programmed incorrectly. There are also public charging points at Kinross Park and Ride that I have tried to use but they are not operational yet. The only successful occasion was at Asda in Forfar but then it was plugged in for less than an hour so did not get much of a boost. In my neck of the woods charging points are few and far between and as mentioned already seem to be under different operators.
 

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I have had my Nissan Leaf 2.5yrs and the Ampera 1.5yrs and have charged at public charging locations pretty requently throughout but not as much as some.

These are the main issues for me:

Charging bays occupied by non-EV cars
This is a big one for most EV owners. What is the point of going to the trouble and expense of installing EV charging if then the bays are allowed to be filled with cars that don't need charging. It stops those bays being used by EVs that must have charging. I can see how this happens... parking bays that have until now been available for non-EVs suddenly get charging. May be a bit of signage goes up but there is nothing stopping people from parking there so they continue to do so. They often justify it by saying that they never see the bays occupied by EVs.

I believe it is encombant upon the operators of the parking bays to keep those bays totally clear at all times and reserved for EVs use only. Without that then they might as well not installed the charging in the first place IMO.

RFID Card and Membership Schemes
I can see how this has come about but these will cripple EV charging and do nothing for EV take-up. If I am going to be using my car for anything other than just locally then I will be travelling into other areas of the country. As things stand, I will need a membership card for each area I travel to and I will need to have applied for that membership well in advance of travel. Not only that but I will often need to pay a membership fee too and that will be for every area I want to travel to in spite of perhaps only travelling there once a year!

This whole concept of local membership has to end. The charging infrastructure companies must put in place roaming agreements so that a driver who has membership of his local scheme can then roam nationwide using that same card without needing to join the other schemes individually. This has started to happen already but this must happen much more quickly. Until we have a system that allows national travel and charging on the one membership it will always fall short.

Lack of Redundancy
Rapid charging (43kw AC or 50kw DC and up) is used primarily for long distance travel and is being installed at many motorway service areas courtesy of Nissan and Ecotricity. However, at the moment, in these early stages, only a single rapid charger is being installed at each location. This is fine while the bays are free (see above!) and while the charger is working but what if the charger fails as they seem to do fairly frequently at the moment? Then the poor EV driver will probably not have the remaining charge to get to another rapid charging station.

So far I haven't heard of anyone recently needing to be recovered as a result of a rapid charger failure but it could very easily happen. The only real solution is to have more than one charger at each location thereby providing a degree of backup. I am sure that this may well be in the plans of the rapid charger operators and I can certainly understand that their priority might be more directed to getting at least one charger at all sensible locations first. Neverthless, until we have multiple chargers at each location EV drivers will always be at risk of being stranded because of charger failure.

Location and Status Information
Some EV drivers say that EV charging is not complicated and use phrases such as "this is just plugs and sockets" and of course at its very basic that is all it is. However, many of the same people also want intelligent information systems available to the drivers, perhaps in-car, providing the driver with accurate information on charging station location and information on the status of that charging station such as if it is in use, out of service etc. Unfortunately, if we want those kinds of intelligence back-office systems then it becomes much more than plugs and sockets.

Some say that they want rid of RFID cards completely. I don't see that happening to be honest. If we want intelligent systems and wider system integration, perhaps into in-car navigation systems or into route planning systems online, then there must be a way to authenticate the user at each station. Perhaps this could just be an RFID chip in the car itself or why not use the RFID chips that are already in many our credit cards (why do we need a separate cards?), either way I can't see a way round having a way to identify the user in some way.

Whichever way this is done there needs to be more accurate information available to EV drivers so that they can determine in-car or prior to setting out which charging location is going to be working and available. This is pretty difficult, if not impossible, to determine right now.

None of these issues are insurmountable but I can't see many of them being resolved in the near future - or is that too pessimistic?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Dear Paul,

First of all, i would like to express my deepest appreciation for the effort you put into this thread to type out the problems in detail!! I cannot thank you enough for this valuable piece of information that will certainly be useful in my research. i will try my very best to solve the problems described by you.

Cheers,
ALEX
 
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