A recent announcement from seven major automakers, including General Motors, Honda, Mercedes and Hyundai, highlights concerns about the reliability of electric vehicle (EV) charging in California. These companies are joining forces to develop a more reliable charging system and emphasize the word “reliable” several times in their statement.
As an electric vehicle driver and legislator, I have personally experienced the challenges of using public chargers in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Public chargers are often difficult to find, require the use of multiple apps, and are often out of service despite the company’s app stating otherwise. This experience is not unique to these areas, as a recent Cornell study found that nearly 25% of electric vehicle chargers in the Bay Area were unusable.
Although California has invested $1.7 billion to build a network of public chargers, it often appears that the investment has had little impact on the chargers’ reliability. However, Tesla drivers have a different experience due to Tesla’s proprietary charging network, which provides a seamless and reliable charging experience. This difference highlights the need for better oversight and accountability in the public charging sector.
Many of the largest electric vehicle charging companies prioritize installing chargers over maintaining their functionality. These companies have spent significant amounts of money lobbying to avoid accountability measures. It is critical that the state ensure that these companies meet their responsibility to keep charging stations operational and communicate their availability to Californians.
To achieve California’s zero-emission vehicle goals, it is imperative to work toward greater accountability in the electric vehicle charging industry. Drivers should be confident that they can find functioning charging stations when needed. With improved oversight and accountability, the state can ensure that charging infrastructure meets its climate goals and meets the expectations of California drivers.