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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I've started a series on YouTube where I rock up to a public charger with little preparation to see how easy the experience is. I know preparation is key, but I wanted to go into each public charger experience neutral and this seemed the fairest way - plus, I don't think we should need to "prepare" to use a public charger. It should be easy and should work.

Which public charging experience do you rate as the best? Is InstaVolt king of the contactless or does Polar win your heart with its subscription model?

Also would be glad of suggestions for other public charger brands to try out! I've tested InstaVolt, Alfa Power and Polar so far:

 

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Hi all,

I've started a series on YouTube where I rock up to a public charger with little preparation to see how easy the experience is. I know preparation is key, but I wanted to go into each public charger experience neutral and this seemed the fairest way - plus, I don't think we should need to "prepare" to use a public charger. It should be easy and should work.

Which public charging experience do you rate as the best? Is InstaVolt king of the contactless or does Polar win your heart with its subscription model?

Also would be glad of suggestions for other public charger brands to try out! I've tested InstaVolt, Alfa Power and Polar so far:

Really good idea !.
Potential new owners of a BEV should be grateful for ANY info that helps them overcome the fear of trying to receive the very first charge on a long distant trip !.
A bad experience on the first public charger can leave the owner with head in his hands wondering WHY he / she bought an EV !.
Long time owners of an EV just take it in their stride now, but at first new owners must find it extremely stressful.
 

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plus, I don't think we should need to "prepare" to use a public charger. It should be easy and should work
Indeed, and I think you're a little forgiving of this fact in the video (so far, I've watched as far as the polar charger). How does a charger you can't use get a 6/10?

Pod-point seem to get things right IMHO (at least on the AC chargers I've used) where they give you 15 minutes after plugging in to claim the charge. So the procedure I follow is plug-in, go get a coffee or whatever, and then sit and fiddle with my phone in comfort. You just have to remember to read the name of the charger off the post. They also get the A/B labelling right.

My experience so far:
  • Pod-point (AC Only): Really good experience for app based because of the 15 minute thing, but posts often seem to be underpowered. Last night I think I got one running at 6A or so.
  • Polar Instant (50kW DC and AC): Pretty good, but I have no idea how you're meant to identify which station your at when you're somewhere like Milton Keynes Coachway, and there's 8 or so chargers very close to each other. No markings I could see on the charger itself. Wish the charger display was more informative. Did arrive at one Holiday Inn charger only to find it was switched off.
  • Charge your Car (50kW DC): Got really confused with this one. Firstly I thought they partnered with Polar, but that's only subscription, and then I downloaded the wrong app because too many companies have similar names. Eventually the the app registration dance and it worked fine. Same charger as Polar, so same display.
  • InstaVolt (via contactless): Really simple to use as there's no app, but I hate the cryptic scrolling display.
  • Ionity (150kW via New Motion): Again confusion because I thought Ionity supported contactless, but fortunately I had a New Motion card. With that everything was really simple. Ended up putting another driver's session on my card too (and him re-imbursing me in cash), because he didn't have a required membership. Display didn't give a lot of information.
  • Ecotricity (CCS): One free charge on the M1, and 3 other broken chargers. First failure left me with 30 miles to do with 20 miles of charge. Not impressed! Display impossible to read in sunlight, so didn't even notice the state of the one on free charge for quite a while. App is awful too.
  • Shell (via New Motion): Simple to use, no issues.
  • Swarco (via contactless): Found to user interface to select the connector, start the charge, etc very unintuitive. Icons you had to press that weren't obviously buttons, so you ended up pressing round the screen to try to find the secret door. Once I got it started it was fine.
Everywhere apart Ecotricity (?) and the one Polar site, I've been able to get charge eventually. Apps are definitely a pain. Contactless is easiest followed by RFID if you're registered, but I think expecting people to have RFID cards for everything is unreasonable. Apps need data coverage in places that often don't have it. If you need data your charger should have a WiFi hotspot.

I've mentioned the display a few times. I'd really like it if all chargers displayed:
  • Time charging
  • Current SoC
  • Current Power, so you can see when charging rate steps-down. Voltage and Current is a bonus.
  • kWh consumed and cost
It shouldn't be that difficult.
 

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Really good idea !.
Potential new owners of a BEV should be grateful for ANY info that helps them overcome the fear of trying to receive the very first charge on a long distant trip !.
A bad experience on the first public charger can leave the owner with head in his hands wondering WHY he / she bought an EV !.
Long time owners of an EV just take it in their stride now, but at first new owners must find it extremely stressful.
I keep saying this like a broken record, but always practice at your nearest local charger when you don't need a charge before setting off into the wide, wide world.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Indeed, and I think you're a little forgiving of this fact in the video (so far, I've watched as far as the polar charger). How does a charger you can't use get a 6/10?

Pod-point seem to get things right IMHO (at least on the AC chargers I've used) where they give you 15 minutes after plugging in to claim the charge. So the procedure I follow is plug-in, go get a coffee or whatever, and then sit and fiddle with my phone in comfort. You just have to remember to read the name of the charger off the post. They also get the A/B labelling right.

My experience so far:
  • Pod-point (AC Only): Really good experience for app based because of the 15 minute thing, but posts often seem to be underpowered. Last night I think I got one running at 6A or so.
  • Polar Instant (50kW DC and AC): Pretty good, but I have no idea how you're meant to identify which station your at when you're somewhere like Milton Keynes Coachway, and there's 8 or so chargers very close to each other. No markings I could see on the charger itself. Wish the charger display was more informative. Did arrive at one Holiday Inn charger only to find it was switched off.
  • Charge your Car (50kW DC): Got really confused with this one. Firstly I thought they partnered with Polar, but that's only subscription, and then I downloaded the wrong app because too many companies have similar names. Eventually the the app registration dance and it worked fine. Same charger as Polar, so same display.
  • InstaVolt (via contactless): Really simple to use as there's no app, but I hate the cryptic scrolling display.
  • Ionity (150kW via New Motion): Again confusion because I thought Ionity supported contactless, but fortunately I had a New Motion card. With that everything was really simple. Ended up putting another driver's session on my card too (and him re-imbursing me in cash), because he didn't have a required membership. Display didn't give a lot of information.
  • Ecotricity (CCS): One free charge on the M1, and 3 other broken chargers. First failure left me with 30 miles to do with 20 miles of charge. Not impressed! Display impossible to read in sunlight, so didn't even notice the state of the one on free charge for quite a while. App is awful too.
  • Shell (via New Motion): Simple to use, no issues.
  • Swarco (via contactless): Found to user interface to select the connector, start the charge, etc very unintuitive. Icons you had to press that weren't obviously buttons, so you ended up pressing round the screen to try to find the secret door. Once I got it started it was fine.
Everywhere apart Ecotricity (?) and the one Polar site, I've been able to get charge eventually. Apps are definitely a pain. Contactless is easiest followed by RFID if you're registered, but I think expecting people to have RFID cards for everything is unreasonable. Apps need data coverage in places that often don't have it. If you need data your charger should have a WiFi hotspot.

I've mentioned the display a few times. I'd really like it if all chargers displayed:
  • Time charging
  • Current SoC
  • Current Power, so you can see when charging rate steps-down. Voltage and Current is a bonus.
  • kWh consumed and cost
It shouldn't be that difficult.
Yeah it was very generous in hindsight, but I gave the charger the benefit of the doubt over data connection issues and I also have not had this problem with other Polar chargers.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I keep saying this like a broken record, but always practice at your nearest local charger when you don't need a charge before setting off into the wide, wide world.
I think that's fair enough, but I can't imagine this coming up in a sales pitch. I think a lot of people would find the notion they need to practise as a perfect example of what's wrong with the infrastructure and further "proof" that it's not ready.

Now I don't necessarily agree with them but I think it's a valid point. This stuff shouldn't need practice other than someone explaining the small differences between charging and fuelling with petrol.
 

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I think that's fair enough, but I can't imagine this coming up in a sales pitch. I think a lot of people would find the notion they need to practise as a perfect example of what's wrong with the infrastructure and further "proof" that it's not ready.

Now I don't necessarily agree with them but I think it's a valid point. This stuff shouldn't need practice other than someone explaining the small differences between charging and fuelling with petrol.
Quite agree - except I'm not sure the differences are that small.
It's quite a change from standing by the car for a few minutes then continuing and finding something to do for half an hour or so, with a car full of impatient passengers. There's a bit of a mind-reset involved.
 

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I don't think we should need to "prepare" to use a public charger. It should be easy and should work.
Fortunately there are some who do read the manual after buying a new appliance. Having spent £10 - £40k on a new EV it is not unreasonable to have Don's a little preparation.
Just very exasperating when the system fails. Please try a few EH on msa.
 

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Which public charging experience do you rate as the best?
My top-ten ranking goes like this:

  1. Instavolt
  2. Geniepoint
6. Pod Point (tie)
6. Zero Net (tie)
18. LiFe
19. Ecotricity (tie)
19. Polar (tie)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Just to clarify, the lack of preparation was intentional as I believe most new EV drivers aren't going to prepare like some of us enthusiasts have done. And I speak to a lot of new EV owners in my job!

I simply disagree that because someone spends a lot of money on a car that they should then need to do some homework on how to use public chargers. I know it's beneficial, but it shouldn't be a necessity if we are to encourage people to transition to EVs. As someone else mentioned, it might require a new mindset but it shouldn't be complicated.

In fact, if I spend £10k-40k on a new EV (as I have done), I actually expect to not then do a load of homework for the privilege of driving it. It just isn't how people use cars today and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect public chargers to be a simple pay as you go with no app required.

Even if you believe preparation should be required, I can find a lot of drivers who disagree or simply don't care. People nowadays want things to work "out of the box" and that's just something we need to accept.
 

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People nowadays want things to work "out of the box" and that's just something we need to accept.
We aren't there yet. There aren't enough reliable chargers. There aren't enough that accept contactless payment. You have to do route planning and have a backup plan. You need to set up accounts and install apps.

Anyone setting off without preparation has a good chance of getting stranded.
 

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Also would be glad of suggestions for other public charger brands to try out! I've tested InstaVolt, Alfa Power and Polar so far:
Ecotricity. The experience is very different depending on location and your car. Most of their chargers were built before most of the EVs on the road. There are compatibility issues, especially if you don't have a Nissan or Mitsubishi. Some of their chargers are fine. About 30% aren't.

Polar are also highly variable. Some of their chargers are as old and unreliable as Ecotricity but they also have shiny new ones. Like Ecotricity, they are not particularly good about repairing the broken ones..

GeniePoint -- This is a quickly growing network with chargers at many Morrison's and more going in every month.

PodPoint

Engenie


Shell Recharge - If you can find one.
 
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