Tesla, Volta and ChargePoint stations topped the list in J.D. Power’s first-ever survey on electric vehicle charging options for U.S. drivers of plug-in hybrids and battery-electrics away from home.
The global analytics company’s 2021 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Public Charging Study surveyed 6,647 owners of battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from January through June. It said public charging availability in the U.S. varies regionally but is still one of the least satisfying aspects of owning an electric vehicle.
Customers were asked about ease of use, charging speed, cost of charging, ease of payment, how easy it was to locate a charging station, the convenience and cleanliness of each location, things to do while charging, how safe they felt at a given public charging location, and whether or not chargers were available when needed.
The survey found that U.S. EV owners are frustrated by a lack of options. Where they do have access to public charging stations, EV owners were most commonly vexed by out of service chargers and long lines, the survey found.
“Owners are reasonably happy in situations where public charging is free, doesn’t require a wait and the location offers other things to do — but that represents a best-case scenario,” J.D. Power’s Brent Gruber said. “The industry needs to make significant investment in public charging to assure a level of convenience and satisfaction that will lure potentially skeptical consumers to EVs.”
Tesla’s level 2 Destination charging stations and DC fast-charging Superchargers ranked highest among electric vehicle owners in terms of overall satisfaction.
Tesla Destination chargers, seen in places like hotel parking lots, were made specifically for Tesla owners. But in some cases they can be used with a special adapter by owners of other electric vehicle brands.
CEO Elon Musk recently announced that Tesla intends to open up all of its charging stations for use by owners of other electric vehicle brands. But the company has not disclosed how many of those would be opened in the U.S. and by what date.
In the slower category of level 2 chargers, Volta charging stations ranked second behind Tesla in the survey.
Volta chargers are accessible to all major plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicle types in the U.S. The company installs its chargers at shopping centers and other commercial and tourist destinations. Each one features a digital display for advertising and brand campaigns. Because they are ad-supported, Volta generally provides free charging for drivers while they park and shop.
Tortoise Acquisitions Corp. II and Volta plan to merge in a transaction that values the combined entity at over $2 billion.
According to data compiled by the Department of Energy, the U.S. has 43,514 electric vehicle charging locations comprised of 105,671 individual DC fast-charging and slower, level-2 charging outlets.
ChargePoint ranked second behind Tesla among DC fast-charging options on the road, and third behind Volta’s free charging service for level 2 charging.
The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in March via a special purpose acquisition corporation deal and has since been acquiring other EV charging businesses in a bid to expand in Europe and North America. Electric vehicle adoption is poised for growth in both continents, and electric vehicle charging companies may reap the rewards of federal and state support in the U.S.
AlixPartners estimates $50 billion will be needed to expand a national charging network to accommodate the expected growth of EVs by 2030 in the U.S. And President Joe Biden’sinfrastructure bill could fund the installation of $7.5 billion worth of charging stations across the country.