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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This week with lockdown looking like its coming to an end, I decided to start planning some trips and visits to family when we open up.

As part of that I had a quick look at zap map out of interest to see hows things are looking as I keep reading email from the charging networks shouting about how they are installing tons of new chargers etc.

What I was struck by was the STILL the sheer lack of infrastructure in the what should be an easy journey of West Sussex to Oxford, but also the sheer amount of "out of service" chargers there currently are.

Even a year ago there did not seem to be so many problems on the highway charging systems but it seems over the last year, possibly due to covid, possibly just blamed on covid, the infrastructure has suffered

Still on motorway stops there is just one charger available, not the banks or charger, not even 2 or 3, just single chargers, which as I found when actually visiting them, a lot of the time are not in service.

I am literally shocked that we are in this state, rather than being a 1st world, rich country touting its commitment to green technology and the end of fossil fuel cars, it seems we are actively PROMOTING the use of fossil fuels!!!!!

Honestly if there was an advert run on mass media outlining the benefits of petrol vs the reality go the current charging network it would stop EV sales dead in their tracks.

People coming to EV's just take for granted that there is the infrastructure but wait until they try and use it!!!!!!

Ughhhh sorry about the rat, we all know this so I'm stating the obvious but Im sat here close to tears, and my partner is sick of me muttering to myself "but WHY, why are they out of service"
 

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Don't be too sure that publically updated charge point info is accurate. Someone records a failed charge attempt, which may or may not be the fault of the charge point. People using the map see it listed as out of action, so stay away, but casual non-app using visitors still roll up and charge ok.
That's obviously not to say everything is rosy, but it may not be quite as bad as it otherwise seems.
We all should be reporting of action charge points to the owner (as well as updating zap map, Plugshare and the like).
 

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I have to admit that I am viewing with trepidation a 260 mile trip to Argyll in the spring. I've found enough rapid chargers around the half way point which, touch wood, will still be working. But how many will be available, or have someone using a 7kw charger for hours? The chargers along the tourist route (Loch Lomond, Oban, Fort William) are most likely to be in use I guess. I plan to leave home at 5am and hope I beat the other EV owners to the chargers.
My main complaint is the failure by installers to provide multiple simultaneous outlets, rather than the 3 types, only one of which can be used at a time.
 

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Still on motorway stops there is just one charger available, not the banks or charger, not even 2 or 3, just single chargers, which as I found when actually visiting them, a lot of the time are not in service.
I hear BP are installing 150w chargers inside their motorway petrol station forecourts. Not a safe place to park with young family, but at least it's getting build.

But I totally agree. It's a disgrace. Over my 3 years of EV ownership experience, things hasn't really improved. Yes, it has improved if you use the app and detour to chargers a few miles away from main roads, their numbers have increased greatly. But the number of stalls per location stayed the same throughout the years: mostly 1 or 2. Good luck with possibly queuing and dead charger.

We need 100 more Gridserve-like charging hubs all throughout trunk roads. Government should stop incentivising the cars themselves, they are good enough; stop incentivising badly planned rapid chargers dotted all over the place, they are just not usable for planning. Government need to throw big money at getting Gridserve-like stations everywhere, it solves both transport and green grid transition.

It's 2021, why do we still need plan A, B, C and D?!?
 

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I hear BP are installing 150w chargers inside their motorway petrol station forecourts. Not a safe place to park with young family, but at least it's getting build.

But I totally agree. It's a disgrace. Over my 3 years of EV ownership experience, things hasn't really improved. Yes, it has improved if you use the app and detour to chargers a few miles away from main roads, their numbers have increased greatly. But the number of stalls per location stayed the same throughout the years: mostly 1 or 2. Good luck with possibly queuing and dead charger.

We need 100 more Gridserve-like charging hubs all throughout trunk roads. Government should stop incentivising the cars themselves, they are good enough; stop incentivising badly planned rapid chargers dotted all over the place, they are just not usable for planning. Government need to throw big money at getting Gridserve-like stations everywhere, it solves both transport and green grid transition.

It's 2021, why do we still need plan A, B, C and D?!?
Yeah, on a recent Fully Charged podcast they were saying massive Govt lead investment is required as no one else will build the scale required.
 

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My closest rapid has 3 cables, but only one parking bay, so 'yes'.
Indeed, at a remote rapid I used recently, again three cables, one bay. Cables too short to reach adjacent spaces.

Same at other rapids in the region e.g rapid side on to a single space so no hope of a second car hooking up.

Locally there used to be a rapid positioned perfectly to serve three spaces. Obviously, only one AC and DC at a time but the second DC would kick in automatically when the first finished. That's gone now...
 

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When you are 50 miles away and en route then perception is reality.

The network needs to be useable by the majority of normal people, not just a subset of early adopters who are proficient at juggling several apps.
Agree entirely. But we have these discussions ad infinitum among ourselves about what should be happening. But correcting out of date info and reporting failures to people who perhaps can do something about it make the reality that we all deal with on the ground slightly less hassle.
 

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How far is West Sussex to Oxford, in your specific scenario? It can't be much over 100 miles, or maybe my geography skills are just pants.
 

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Totally agree with what’s being said here......but......whilst it might feel good to get it off our chests, telling each other about it won’t really help to change it.

If you haven’t already, please complete the consultations here, and also consider writing to your MP, Councillors, OZEV, DfT, the MSA operators and anyone else you can think of.


 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Agree entirely. But we have these discussions ad infinitum among ourselves about what should be happening. But correcting out of date info and reporting failures to people who perhaps can do something about it make the reality that we all deal with on the ground slightly less hassle.
Agreed, but with the advertising and spin that our government is adept at putting out, how many people do we still have on here asking if 120 in a leaf is possible in a single motorway journey or shocked when the actual reality of infrastructure bites.

Think of it as cheap therapy for me to stop me going crazy and a stone cold inconvenient truth for anyone considering buying.
 

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Are there any rapids that can't do 7kW AC, and DC at the same time ?
The AC on a rapid will either be 22 or 43kW. Nothing should really be plugging in to only draw 7kW.

Almost all rapid chargers are physically capable of AC+DC together unless there are power restrictions in that area. The problem is some charging networks don't allow it. Whether that's Shell who typically only give you one bay per charger, or Ecotricity who's app will only allow one charging session per unit despite them having the physical capability. Unfortunately while these are just 2 examples, there are many more who have done similar.
 

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I hear BP are installing 150w chargers inside their motorway petrol station forecourts. Not a safe place to park with young family, but at least it's getting build.

But I totally agree. It's a disgrace. Over my 3 years of EV ownership experience, things hasn't really improved. Yes, it has improved if you use the app and detour to chargers a few miles away from main roads, their numbers have increased greatly. But the number of stalls per location stayed the same throughout the years: mostly 1 or 2. Good luck with possibly queuing and dead charger.

We need 100 more Gridserve-like charging hubs all throughout trunk roads. Government should stop incentivising the cars themselves, they are good enough; stop incentivising badly planned rapid chargers dotted all over the place, they are just not usable for planning. Government need to throw big money at getting Gridserve-like stations everywhere, it solves both transport and green grid transition.

It's 2021, why do we still need plan A, B, C and D?!?
Misdirected government subsidy has been the problem. EV charging must make profits for providers. Big hubs like the Gridserve ones where they are not on main trunk routes are extremely unlikely to be sustainable.
What is needed now is for big oil to transition their existing sites to EV friendly facilities rather than plonking chargers next to the pumps.
All the broken chargers are the direct result of government funding for schemes without any contractual terms for maintenance and refresh and with little scrutiny of the providers business model.
And please make sure you respond to the government's consultation.
 

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And, if you look at zapmap, there are enough chargers. It's just that more than half are in the wrong places. The increasing number of apps/schemes etc is seriously putting me off so I'm hoping the oil companies don't contribute further to this nonsense.
 

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Don't be too sure that publically updated charge point info is accurate. Someone records a failed charge attempt, which may or may not be the fault of the charge point.
I see this argument quite often but I don't think it's based on any factual data. Sticking specifically to rapid charging, (as that's what I'm sure @JohnMars is lamenting about) how often have you had the rapid charging system of your car itself break down or go "out of order". Never? I've owned two EV's now and I've never once had a failed charge that wasn't the fault of the charger and confirmed by other people also being unable to use it.

Why would a car specifically, have a fault in its rapid charging system? It could happen in theory, but it's very very uncommon because there really isn't much to DC rapid charging from the car's perspective. The car communicates with the rapid charger and tells it what voltage/current it wants and that DC is passed through the socket on the car, through a contactor directly into the battery.

The rapid charger does 99% of the work and has the vast majority of the hardware and software that is likely to fail and is therefore statistically speaking likely to be the cause of a failed charge 99% of the time. Lets consider some of the potential failure points.

* The charging cable or plugs can sometimes get damaged - those cables are tethered to the charger so even if it was a previous user that caused the damage by dropping the plug on the ground or leaving it in a puddle it still counts as a failure of the charger - it's certainly not your cars fault.

* The AC/DC conversion process uses a lot of high power electronics which can overheat, (maybe a fan in the charger failed) or die for whatever reason - that electronics is in the charger and its failure is not the fault of your car.

* The power to the site or that particular charger could go down - not the fault of your car.

* Communication from charger to back end authentication systems could go down - not the fault of your car.

* The software / user interface on the charger could crash/freeze or otherwise misbehave (has happened to me a few times) also not the fault of your car.

Just because one user was unable to charge and someone else an hour or day later was able to charge doesn't automatically mean that the first user did something wrong or their car has a problem - some of these failure modes could be intermittent - overheating due to a dodgy fan or blocked vents in the charger might only happen on hotter days during longer and/or higher powered charging sessions for example.

Loss of communication to back end authentication servers can absolutely be intermittent - it could be down when user A tries charge, then back up again an hour later when user B rolls up and tries to charge. User B could be blissfully unaware that comms were down an hour ago and they just have lucky timing. Most rapid chargers use 3G networks for authentication and those in remote locations are particularly prone to intermittent data outages.

User interface/software glitches in the charger may eventually right themselves or may get reported or remotely detected whereupon the network remotely reboots the device and it works again. (For a while) That doesn't mean the first person who reported the charger out of order due to it being unresponsive was wrong.

The only real exception here where a car might contribute to difficulty rapid charging is some of the CCS compatibility issues we saw in the early days where an inadequately defined communication protocol in the CCS spec was open to too much interpretation, so some car manufacturers and some charger manufacturers were interpreting the spec differently. Just look at the Ecotricity CCS fiasco for an example of this.

While technically some of the blame for this may fall on the side of the car, at the end of the day like it or not, the cars are on the road and need to be charged - if a workaround needs to be put in place to improve compatibility the onus to do that falls more on the charging vendor than it does on the car vendor - especially if the car works fine on the vast majority of other chargers/networks.

It's a lot easier to do firmware updates on a few thousand rapid chargers than hundreds of thousands of EV's, many of which may never receive firmware updates once out of warranty.

I hope you get where I'm going with this - I simply don't believe that people who are reporting chargers are out of order either have faulty cars (extremely unlikely) or don't have a clue what they're doing. (More likely but still unlikely)

Occam's razor says that it is far more likely that many rapid chargers are simply not very robust and reliable (with too many points of failure) and people are genuinely having problems with them that are not their fault or their cars fault, despite other people at other times being able to use the same charger.
People using the map see it listed as out of action, so stay away, but casual non-app using visitors still roll up and charge ok.
If I look on plug share and see an intermittent history of recent failed charges at a specific site from different people with different cars of course I'm going to stay away from it. Why would I knowingly go to a site that has a proven history of unreliability? Unless you believe all those people were mistaken or have faulty cars, which I don't believe.

If the site owner/network wants people to start going back to their site they need to get on top of the issue.
That's obviously not to say everything is rosy, but it may not be quite as bad as it otherwise seems.
Unfortunately I do believe that it is more or less as bad as it seems. My personal experiences with out of order chargers tally with what is being reported on plugshare and zapmap. All the sites I've had problems at have a prior chequered history on plugshare or zapmap. Those sites that I never have problems with have a clean record on both. The crowd sourced data is pretty accurate at least as to the overall reliability of a site, if not necessarily the current at this moment working status of the site.
We all should be reporting of action charge points to the owner (as well as updating zap map, Plugshare and the like).
Yes we should, it can be a right hassle though sometimes when you're already in a hurry and trying to get a charge to get home for the night. I've reported faults to some networks and it definitely varies as to how much they care and how quickly they send someone to fix it...
 
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