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In an effort to make electric vehicle (EV) charging less confusing, leading electric charging company Electrify America has introduced a new charger labeling system that makes it even more confusing. It requires drivers to know whether “ultra” or “ultra” chargers are faster. This, apparently, is better than the previous system, which was determining whether 350 or 150 was a larger number.
Electrify America announced all this recently press release Together with facilities White papers. In the announcement, EA states that the 350 kilowatt chargers will now be known as “Hyper-Fast” while the 150 kilowatt chargers will be called “Ultra-Fast” as part of an “attempt to simplify the charging experience for both new and existing electric vehicle (EV) customers.” They do so, according to the white paper, after extensive focus group and survey research “revealed that one of the most significant pain points expressed by electric vehicle drivers is confusion over differences between charging speeds and the charging capacity of their vehicles” because there is no industry-wide definition of fast charging.
The white paper explicitly states that EA designed the new Charger sticker after petrol stations with premium, unleaded and diesel fuels, because these are “simple for drivers to choose the most appropriate type of gasoline for their vehicles”.
Of course, EV charging is Not Like supplying a gas powered car. In general, there are three types of jacks in the US and Canada where EA operates, although one of them, CHAdeMO, is nearly obsolete and is only sold on Nissan LEAF and is being phased out. That leaves only the Tesla plug and the Common Charging System (CCS) on all other cars.
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It is possible but not common for Teslas to use third-party fast chargers such as EA, as they require at least an adapter that is not sold in the US, so Teslas are almost always charged from the much more popular and better Tesla Supercharger network (access to the Supercharger network is One of the biggest selling points of owning a Tesla, if not).
This sounds confusing, but the conclusion is not: if you have a Tesla, EA basically doesn’t need to be there for you and none of that matters. And if you have a non-Tesla electric car, you can use an EA charger. Even for LEAF owners, almost all stations still have at least one CHAdeMO plug.
Charging speeds are simpler. The higher the number, the faster it charges. The number on the charger is the theoretical maximum speed at which it can charge. Electric vehicles vary in how fast their vehicles can be charged. Some, like the Chevy Bolt, go up to 50 kilowatts. Other cars such as the Ford Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4 have top speeds of 150 kW. And a few like the Kia EV6 and Porsche Taycan can benefit from a 350 kW charger. Nothing bad happens if you connect the Bolt to, say, a 350kW charger, it will max out at about 50kW, and likely bother anyone with a faster-charging EV waiting to use it.
This is it. It is not complicated, but it is also very different from pumping gas. One does not pull up to a quick charger and choose the charging speed they want as they do with the type of fuel. Each charger has its own cap and will charge as fast as possible. But she also doesn’t truly No matter what speed the charger you’re pulling into. And as far as it goes, it’s no more complicated than comparing gas prices.
In fact, trying to make it look like you’re pumping gas unnecessarily complicates matters. To fully explain the entire fast charging landscape of all electric cars in North America, it took 300 words, or about a minute to read aloud. If someone buys one particular electric car, it will take less time to explain the charging status of the electric car. I know this because I explained it to my 73-year-old mom who is still struggling with her iPhone when she was considering buying a Bolt. I told her she would be able to use any generic charger other than Tesla and any charging speed over 50 kW wouldn’t make a difference to her. This was him.
But, if EA’s extensive public research is to be believed, this is not the case for the vast majority of the American public. Instead, EA decided that North America is struggling with these number concepts and should instead replace them with words. Even words that are essentially synonyms, according to EA, are less confusing than numbers. Now, electric vehicle owners have to remember which is more, excessive or extreme.
For all the problems with the electric car charging network in the US – it is Too expensive to builddeeply Untrustworthy chargers and charging speeds, Constant network outages, noisy payment systems, choppy coverage outside of a few dense urban areas – I never thought the question “is 350 more than 150?” It can register as a barrier to electric vehicle adoption. Either EA has made a confusing decision or the all-electric car is going to be much more difficult than I imagined.