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New benchmark by umlaut and Charged ranks US charging infrastructure providers
Hakan Ekmen, Managing Director at umlaut US, says: “For the acceptance of e-mobility, a reliable charging infrastructure with a comprehensive coverage of charging stations is an indispensable requirement. For a technology which is still emerging, the results are all in all pleasing. But they show still room for improvements. This is also true for the providers which have earned a good grade in our assessment.”
Christian Sussbauer, Technology Lead Electrification at umlaut, adds: “The CPOs are rapidly expanding their own network of public AC and DC charging stations. With assessing DC fast charging in California, our benchmark is a comparison of the charging industry’s best efforts: a search for the best user experience currently available. However, with the best operator scoring 691 out of 1,000 points in the US, we see quite some room for improvement. We are well prepared to assess and track the future development of the charging infrastructure in the US.”
Christian Ruoff, Publisher at Charged, says: “The charging infrastructure industry has made tremendous progress in the past decade, but there is still a much work to do if EVs are to become ubiquitous. We hope that this partnership between Charged and umlaut - to test and report on the charging user experience - will help to clarify were the industry should focus its efforts.”
umlaut conducted the measurements for the comprehensive benchmark in September 2020 taking a close look at the US charge-point-operators (CPOs) Electrify America, EVgo, ChargePoint, EV Connect and Greenlots offering DC charging in California, the most electrified area in the US and hotspot for electric vehicles. Among others, it was tested how intuitive and convenient is the charging process, how convenient is parking at the charging location, if the charging power is suitable for the location and many more. As test vehicles, the umlaut experts chose two different EVs in two different classes: the Audi e-tron crossover SUV and BMW’s i3 subcompact city car. Both use the CCS Type 1 charging standard.
As charging companies in the United States are often a one-stop-shop, offering public charging stations, as well as mobility service solutions - in form of backend, payment, smartphone application and customer support -, umlaut examined the whole charging process. In order to rank the different networks, umlaut split the analysis into two areas: the physical interaction at the charging station location; and the digital experience on a network’s web site and smartphone app. umlaut developed a comprehensive set of key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to compare the most important user experience aspects of the whole charging process.
High-level findings that apply to all the tested networks include with view to the charging locations: Overall poor reliability with a success rate far below 100%, inadequate lighting, poor signage and a maintenance that needs improvement. With regards to pricing these findings show: More price transparency is needed, estimated total price to charge is often missing. And with regards to the smartphone app: The locations of other networks’ stations are often not shown, no option to reserve a charging station and no information about out-of-service charging stations.
With the results, umlaut and Charged highlight the key differences between the market participants aiming to contribute to improvements in the charging infrastructure. Above all, the user-journey and convenience are essential to further increase the acceptance and growth of electric mobility in the United States.
The Charging Infrastructure Benchmark US follows a series of benchmarks conducted and published by umlaut, including e-mobility benchmarks in Germany, Austria and Switzerland earlier this year. For the US benchmark, umlaut has adapted its testing methodology to the US market, and together with Charged developed the new 2020 EV Charging Infrastructure Best-in -Test award. The Charging Infrastructure Benchmark will be conducted annually with next year’s testing expand beyond California to include more regions of North America.
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