9 Solutions to Bolster EV Charger Customer Experience: A Roadmap for the Future
Today, we all expect the lights to turn on when we flip a switch, and that’s what electric vehicle (EV) drivers expect when they pull up to a charging station. They want the charge to start as soon as they plug in, and we’re hard at work every day to deliver that seamless customer experience across the EVgo network. Even with skyrocketing EV adoption – it was recently announced that one million EVs have been sold in the U.S. for the first time in a calendar year – public fast charging is still in its early stages, and technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Through our ReNew program, we’ve made tremendous progress on One & Done success rates, but getting to the point where every charge attempt is successful requires ecosystem-wide collaboration inclusive of EV charging equipment manufacturers, automakers, and electric vehicle service providers (EVSPs) like EVgo.
In May 2023, an EV industry consortium was formed by the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation (Joint Office) to do just that. Known as the ChargeX Consortium, the collaborative group comprised of the national laboratories, EV industry experts, consumer advocates and other stakeholders joined together with the goal of enhancing the public EV charging customer experience across the country. Identifying solutions to root cause issues is one way to achieve this goal, and the EVgo Innovation Lab team has joined ChargeX’s many groups to advance a number of industry-wide codes and standards improvements that, if adopted, will advance the EV driver customer experience.
The first recommendation below – standardized charging error codes – is one best practice that EVgo has long championed through its Connect the Watts™ initiative, and the Consortium recently announced its recommendation that 26 common EV charging error codes be adopted, which will improve diagnostics to allow for faster issue resolution. Drawing on more than a decade of experience and by reviewing the millions of charging sessions that have occurred on our network, EVgo recommends the following nine best practices to enhance the EV driver customer experience.
Standardized Error Codes
With more detailed information from the charger, customers can correct issues like a partially inserted connector immediately, and EVSPs can more rapidly detect and address equipment damage when it occurs. EVgo published recommended minimum required error codes to encourage standardization.
Vehicle Interoperability Testing
With so many different EV models featuring unique software and communications protocols, interoperability testing with EVSPs and vehicle OEMs is critical to delivering a positive customer experience. At the EVgo Innovation Lab in El Segundo, CA, EVgo engineers work collaboratively with automakers around the world to ensure interoperability between all EV models and charging equipment.
EVgo has observed that it can take drivers a couple of minutes to plug in, pay for and initiate their charge, but current standards for authentication may be as short as 60 seconds. Especially for new EV drivers and those using public fast charging for the first time, this is often not enough time to successfully initiate a session. EVgo recommends extending authentication timing to help ensure customers start their charge on the first try. Otherwise, customers need to unplug, and then re-plug, to initiate a charge, which is not intuitive and can diminish One & Done success.
Strengthen Safety Standards
Requiring safety certification from a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), like UL, is a must for charging equipment. In addition, these standards should be strengthened to include the redundant safety features of the chargers as well.
Adapters from vehicle OEMs are the only adapters allowed on the EVgo network. We are working with standards groups to develop the requirements for safe adapters and recommend drivers only use any adapter provided by the manufacturer of their specific EV.
Standardized Port Locations
Charging ports are currently everywhere on vehicles. With at least five locations on today’s EVs, charging providers need to use longer charging cables at their stations to reach the various ports. Longer cables are typically heavier and more difficult to maneuver, which means they’re easier to damage as well. Standardized charging port locations would enhance the experience both for customers plugging in and for equipment manufacturers, as well as enable a more streamlined station design.
Not only should all chargers receive preventative maintenance as specified by the manufacturer, but the maintenance list also needs to include replacing all wear parts after their specified number of cycles.
Replacement Part Availability
To expedite repairs, suppliers should prioritize the availability of common replacement parts like charging cables.
Where possible, components like charging modules should be designed so that if there is a failure, the rest of the charger continues to function.
A seamless and reliable charging experience is the linchpin for the widespread adoption of EVs. EVgo's commitment to enhancing customer experience, as outlined in these best practices and the EVgo ReNew™ program, sets the stage for the all-electric future we envision. Through collaboration and innovation, the entire EV ecosystem can work together to ensure that charging an EV is not just convenient but also a success story from the very first plug in.
Want to dive in further? Check out our Charger Reliability Solutions best practices.