CA Should Hold Electrify America Responsible For EV Chargers

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Electrify America’s track record with EV charger reliability hasn’t been the greatest — which is to say, its chargers are very bad. They’re so bad that sometimes they’ve even been known to disable some EVs. This unreliability is unacceptable, and some experts in California think state officials should hold Electrify America responsible for its broken chargers as The Sacramento Bee reports.

Electrify America came about as a result of the mess that was VW’s Dieselgate drama. After years of cheating diesel emissions, VW was hit with a $2 billion fine along with some stipulations. One of them was having to do something right by the world, which is how the automaker established the EV charging company in 2016. Since then Electrify America’s track record with EV charging has been spotty at best and frustratingly bad at its worst.

Advocates now say that California’s Air Resources Board should hold the company responsible for the unreliability of its charging network, especially since VW essentially entered into a contract with the State of California after Dieselgate to make things right, as one expert pointed out to The Bee.

“This was a contract between the state of California and VW to make amends for Dieselgate,” said David Rempel, a professor emeritus at UC Berkeley and the author of a recent study on charger reliability.

“The proposal to put in EV chargers is a good one but they have to work. If they don’t, that interferes with adoption,” Rempel added. “People are concerned about buying an EV because they hear these chargers don’t work.”

Some experts are saying charger reliability is one of the big factors in slowing EV adoption. And for good reason, too. A recent J.D. Power charger satisfaction study cited by The Bee ranked Electrify America as last in customer satisfaction. This all is more than enough of a reason for CARB to get tough on Electrify America, as the founder of the nonprofit Cool the Earth Carleen Cullen told The Bee: “What do drivers want? They want to plug in, charge and go. What have they been getting? Too often, it’s a healthy dose of frustration. CARB needs to intensify oversight.”

Not everyone agrees with getting tough on Electrify America, though. Using the excuse that it isn’t the only company building out a charging network (even though it’s the largest) in the Golden State, director of the EV Research Center at UC Davis Gil Tal actually spoke in defense of Electrify America: “I think they’re getting more heat right now because they’re big and being used much more,” Tal said.

But he also said that because they receive a nice chunk of tax dollars, EV charging companies like Electrify America should be held accountable for making their networks reliable. But with California readying to approve the final $200 million of VW’s Dieselgate settlement, Carleen Cullen says the state needs to make it count. “If Electrify America doesn’t deliver, they should face penalties. Let’s make sure this final $200 million results in reliability.”