Monday, June 20, 2016

EV charging done wrong.

Last weekend I was thrilled to find that our local REI had installed EV charging stations. (You may remember last year we bought a second hand Nissan Leaf.) I pulled into one of the parking spaces (painted green, with "electric vehicle charging only" painted on the ground), popped the charging port and went to the charging station. They had the option of SAE Combo and CHAdeMO fast chargers, as well as a pair of 240V J1772 level 2 chargers. Our Leaf has a CHAdeMO port so we hooked it up and touched the screen on the charging station to continue. No lights came on. Checked the port - it was connected OK. Then the screen displayed "tap RFID card to start charging" and here's where it all went south.
The charging station we had found is operated by a company called EVGO, which means first of all it's not free. Ok I'm fine with that - it was a pipedream to think we'd be able to charge for free. But there was no mechanism to pay at the charging station. The REI employees didn't sell cards either. So I looked up EVGO to find out what the deal was. 10¢/minute or $1/hour for fast charging - great. Except they only offer that if you subscribe to their service for $15 a month plus taxes.
We spend exactly $8.65 in electricity each month charging our Leaf. Why would I pay nearly double that for a subscription that only then offers me access to charging stations where I then have to pay by the minute?
This is EV charging done completely bass-ackward. It should be a monthly subscription with no cost at the charger. Or better still, there should be no subscription fee, but with bank card readers or NFC payment receivers at the charging station (like we have at gas pumps) then we could pull up and pay-as-we-go for charging.
I have no problem paying to charge our Leaf but I'm not paying an extra $15 for the privilege. Imagine if you had to pay a monthly subscription before you could access the pumps on a petrol station forecourt.....

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