Charging into the Future of Range Confidence with EVgo ReNew™
EVgo is on a mission to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and provide a fast charging network that can power an all-electric future of transportation. With billions of dollars of investment in the automotive sector and transportation electrification, along with the pace of EV sales and new models coming to market, we believe gas-powered vehicles will be akin to dial-up internet access and payphones within a decade or two.
A critical piece of an all-electric future is convenient public charging that gives range confidence to all EV drivers on the road. As EVgo builds on our existing charger operations and maintenance efforts, we’re excited to unveil EVgo ReNewTM – an enhanced and comprehensive maintenance program created to bolster reliability and convenience of the charging experience across our network.
With EVs comprising more than 5% of all new U.S. car sales for the first time, EVs have reached a tipping point.* While EVgo works to install thousands of new high-power charging stalls to meet growing demand, we’re kicking off the New Year with EVgo ReNew to proactively take stock of the current EVgo network in a methodical and data-driven way. We are evaluating historical performance of stations as part of this initiative and plan to replace, upgrade, or in some cases retire hundreds of stations with the goals of advancing uptime and building range confidence for EV drivers.
EVgo ReNew has six core pillars that range from how we design for resiliency and monitor our network to how we deliver best-in-class customer service:
A visual of the six pillars of EVgo ReNew
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that EVgo’s fast charging network is a complex system that connects thousands of DC fast chargers from multiple manufacturers, spanning a broad range of equipment age, to a cloud-based software platform that manages (literally) millions of transactions per year. The EVgo network powers nearly 50 unique EV models and is also interconnected with the software platforms of the networks of our roaming partners. The complexity behind the scenes means that there are many potential failure points that could block, inhibit or delay a charging session. To deliver energy on demand reliably, we must address each one of these potential failure points holistically.
The first pillar of EVgo ReNew is about what we do before a driver ever interacts with our network. We start with Prevention.
A member of the Hardware team demonstrates an equipment test in the EVgo Innovation Lab
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One key element of prevention is EVgo’s 24/7/365 network monitoring and diagnostics, but prevention starts well before a charger is ever available for drivers to use. Before EVgo deploys any new equipment, we thoroughly test its hardware, software, and vehicle interoperability at the EVgo Innovation Lab in El Segundo, CA. This lets us proactively catch potential issues in the lab so our customers can enjoy the best possible charging experience in the field.
In addition to meeting global industry standards set by CharIN** for our charging infrastructure, every new model of charging equipment that EVgo uses goes through our New Product Introduction (NPI) process, a rigorous program that goes beyond required industry standards to verify safety, reliability, compliance, convenience, and cohesion within the EVgo network. During NPI, we test thermal performance to ensure that the charger can operate in any environment, and we verify how chargers behave in scenarios like a cable being removed during active charging to ensure safe and proper shut down.
In order to test a variety of conceivable failures at our lab, EVgo has developed simulation equipment that can recreate potential issues throughout the charging process. EVgo uses an EV simulator to put each charger model through various scenarios, from unexpected vehicle requests to state-of-the-art communication standards compliance. We are also able to test power levels not yet available in vehicles on the market today, helping ensure that our network remains future proofed as technology continues to evolve. On the other end, we use an EVSE simulator to test communication and safety with as many EV models as possible.
EVgo engineers test all critical charger components including the charging cables and connectors, HMI screen, power modules, contactors, credit card readers and more. If an individual component does not meet EVgo’s safety and reliability standards, we will either require a change be made by the vendor or choose not to deploy that model.
EVgo technicians also conduct regular health checks at our stations and physically visit every site at least once per year to perform preventative maintenance. These checks involve testing different session initiation methods and inspecting equipment for issues that might not cause a system-level error, like a charger screen with sun damage.
EVgo collects Driver Insights from multiple sources, including the EVgo app
To assess and route issues, our Diagnostics team uses Driver Insights (e.g., data collected from our customers), as well as Network Insights (e.g., system reporting and tools) to identify what’s going on and determine how to fix it. We quickly evaluate information from multiple sources, triage, and route to Rapid Response for corrective maintenance, or to Analysis for further research.
Our Driver Insights team focuses on collecting data directly from our customers. We learn from our customers through many data sources: our call center, social media channels, survey responses, and issues reported via the EVgo or PlugShare app.
The EVgo app makes it possible for drivers to easily report an issue at any time, like finding a screen is broken or a charging cable is damaged—both of which are difficult to diagnose remotely. A simple push of a button alerts EVgo and a ticket is immediately created. Customers can also use the report feature in the PlugShare app.
Delivering a best-in-class customer experience is core to EVgo’s mission, so our research team works to ensure we have insight into real-world charging experiences through our post-charging session survey, as well as other periodic surveys. Every month we receive close to 3,000 survey responses, which are shared across EVgo, from customer service to the executive team.
EVgo’s Analysis team develops numerous diagnostic tools to provide better insight into network issues. One of these tools is Natural Language Processing, which EVgo uses to quickly review and categorize customer comments and feedback, allowing us to tag charging sessions, analyze data, track and understand trends, and address them either automatically via a remote fix or by dispatching our Rapid Response team. While that may sound complicated, what it means is that our customers are a critical part of making quick repairs possible!
Using custom algorithms and reliability tracking systems, we assess data from a variety of sources including charger data and alerts, operating system data (e.g., low charger utilization, changes in session success rates, frequency or patterns of error codes, etc.), customer comments, and PlugScore™ ratings.
EVgo continues to invest in automating information collection, categorization, correlation, and diagnostics so we can enhance the accuracy, speed, and reliability of issue detection and correction to make the driver experience even better.
3. Rapid Response
An EVgo Field Operations team member working on a fast charger
Many issues can be solved quickly by our Rapid Response team. This team is comprised of members of Field Operations, Software and Hardware teams.
Our Field Operations team serves as our “boots on the ground.” EVgo has a team of dedicated in-house technicians, as well as a distributed network of partners across the U.S. who support us nationwide. Team members have extensive experience working with EV charging infrastructure and our operational software systems.
When deciding how to deploy Rapid Response team members, we prioritize by the level of urgency and the number of customers affected. For urgent issues like compromised cabinets or exposed wiring due to wear or misuse, our Field Operations team commits to arriving on site within four hours or less. For non-urgent issues, we’ll deploy a fix within the next few business days.
The timing to complete a repair depends on factors like whether parts are needed, location, and even the time of year; during winter months, there can sometimes be weather-related delays with shipping or accessible travel. EVgo continues to refine our inventory management and recently added weekend shipping capabilities to keep us on schedule. Our Prevention team also works to predict how often parts might fail and stocks inventory accordingly.
Our Software and Hardware engineering teams follow a process of root cause analysis and corrective action to address issues ranging from system software to interoperability between chargers and EVs. We can often have a fix ready within hours for small-scale issues with a limited impact; for more complex things that impact a broad region of our network, the resolution can take days or (unfortunately) even weeks.
EVgo employs traditional methodologies like 8-Disciplines (8D) involving cross-functional internal teams; we also engage often with our equipment and systems providers and/or partners. A few examples of recent issues EVgo identified and corrected include multifactor authentication and charge session tracking within our mobile app and degraded network communications issues with 4G as cellular data networks moved away from 3G.
An example of EVgo’s Session Visualization tool
We consider every actual or potential charging failure as both an urgent problem to fix and an opportunity to strengthen our system. We take time to analyze and understand why a session failed so we can fix the issue and/or reduce the probability of it happening again.
Thorough analysis requires multiple areas of expertise, and our Software, Hardware, Data Science, and Field Operations teams work closely together to determine root causes and identify solutions. Diagnostic information like failure modes, error codes, and repair criteria are all tracked and communicated internally.
One reason behind a common charge failure is timing. The CCS protocol between an EV and a fast charger has very specific timing requirements that can cause an attempted charge to fail if too much time passes between plugging in the connector and the session actually initiating. If a session times out, the customer will see the charge fail without knowing whether the problem is with their car, the charger, or something else. When this happens, the connector may need to be unplugged from the EV and reinserted to properly reset and initiate a charging session. EVgo developed Autocharge+ to eliminate the two-step process of initiating after plugging in, which is expected to dramatically reduce these “time out” errors.
EVgo continues to improve error detection methods and provide more detailed information to customers. As recently as two years ago, many failed charging sessions gave the same generic error: “connection failure.” We are working with our vendors to establish a minimum set of error codes across the following categories: (1) safety (2) common errors that can be fixed by the driver (e.g., a connector not being plugged in all the way), and (3) system errors.
We’re also building data visualization tools that bring charging session information to life. For example, EVgo recently launched a Session Visualization tool. This tool tags charging sessions with customer issues and/or any detected charger or network error codes, allowing us to visualize and compare sessions at the same charger and control for variables like vehicle type and time of day. Using this capability, EVgo is also creating a charge-curve learning model designed to enable automatic detection and notification of anomalous charging behaviors to isolate potential problems and identify patterns or trends even earlier.
The EVgo station at Lot 29 in Santa Monica is an example of deploying multiple high-power 350kW fast chargers
EVgo is hard at work to bolster reliability and resilience so that customers can be confident when they pull up to charge. One of the simplest forms of resilience in our network is redundancy, which we’re doing at a site level by building larger stations that have more charging stalls.
In the early EV charging days, fast charging sites often had one or two chargers that could serve only one or two cars. Now EVgo typically builds sites with a minimum of four charging stalls, with some offering six or more. That means that if a single charger is experiencing issues, other charging options are available at the same location. Redundancy doesn’t just help network uptime; it also helps our customers access fast charging. At every EVgo station, customers have multiple ways to initiate and pay for a session.
EVgo works with leading vendors across the industry for redundancy in our charging equipment, too. Our network was built with a diversity of charger types so any specific vendor or model issues (e.g., hardware, firmware, or software) are isolated to a subset of our network. We can also select an alternative supplier or set of suppliers if there are supply chain constraints. It would be cheaper to provision and maintain a single set of equipment from a single vendor: the economies of scale are better; it’s usually less expensive to train staff to maintain a single standard; and interoperability and system integration is easier, as is transitioning to upgrades of the same system. However, relying on a single vendor or model could result in widescale failures across a network, as well as create concentrated bottlenecks with far-reaching supply chain implications.
Redundancy is also utilized in our power sharing and routing charger architecture. Instead of dedicated power per stall, most of EVgo’s new stations can share power between at least two stalls. In the event of a single stall failure, available power can be routed to the available stall(s). Similarly, our chargers include multiple power modules—some with redundant modules—so that if one or two modules fail (depending on total power available), it doesn’t cause a failure of the whole charger, but may reduce the total power available.
Interoperability is another strategic component of a resilient network. We have roaming partnerships with ChargePoint, Shell Recharge Solutions, and SemaConnect, giving our drivers even more options to power up on the go.
6. Continuous Customer Service
An EVgo customer receiving support from EVgo’s 24/7 customer service call center
We want every customer’s charging session to start without a hitch, but if it doesn’t, we’re here to make it right, no matter the time of day. Continuous Customer Service means our highly rated customer service team, the EVgo Charging Crew, is available 24/7 to help customers by phone or online with questions or troubleshooting.
If a charger is experiencing a temporary glitch, the EVgo Charging Crew can often trigger a quick charger reboot or remotely initiate a session to help customers get powered up and back on the road. When EVgo learns that a charger needs repair, we also update its status in the EVgo and PlugShare apps to show as “in maintenance,” a designation that helps customers see which chargers are available for use.
Many calls the EVgo Charging Crew receive are from first-time chargers. The EVgo Help Center is a great resource for anyone looking for charging info, educational content and answers to frequently asked questions.
We’re available on social media, too! In addition to the EVgo Charging Crew who respond to the customers calls and emails we get, we also connect directly with people on our social media channels.
The six core pillars of EVgo ReNew guide us as we continue to grow the EVgo network and expand access to public fast charging across the U.S. Although we're starting by replacing or retiring hundreds of stalls, we’ll constantly be evaluating what else needs to be done to enhance the customer experience. We’re kicking off the New Year with EVgo ReNew, but this program has no end date—EVgo is on a mission to expedite mass adoption of electric vehicles by creating a convenient, reliable, and affordable EV charging network that delivers fast charging to everyone.
Follow along as we work, and learn about our newest station openings or maintenance updates by signing up for the EVgo newsletter. We’ll provide updates on EVgo ReNew throughout the year, so stay tuned for more blog posts coming soon!
** CharIN is a non-profit organization and open to any company worldwide involved in commercial e-mobility. CharIN is a leading global association with over 200 members dedicated to promoting interoperability based on the Combined Charging System (CCS) as the global standard for charging vehicles of all kinds.
This blog post contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the "safe harbor" provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as "estimate," "plan," "project," "forecast," "intend," "will," "expect," "anticipate," "believe," "seek," "target" or other similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations or beliefs and are subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, express or implied statements regarding EVgo’s expectations and plans for its ReNew program, including the scope and duration of the program; the number of stalls and chargers targeted through the program; EVgo’s plans for remediating problems identified in its network; replacements, upgrades or retirements of chargers in the EVgo charging network; and the anticipated benefits of the program. These statements are based on various assumptions, whether or not identified in this blog post, and on the current expectations of EVgo’s management, and are not predictions of actual performance. There are a significant number of factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the statements made in this blog post. See “Risk Factors” in EVgo’s Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on March 24, 2022, as well as its other filings with the SEC, copies of which are available on EVgo’s website at investors.evgo.com, and on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. All forward-looking statements in this blog post are based on information available to EVgo as of the date hereof, and EVgo does not assume any obligation to update the forward-looking statements provided to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the date on which they were made, except as required by applicable law.