a BMW iX charing at a Electrify America pile / Source: Electrify America
The Biden administration today announced that the US government is going to set standards for federally funded EV chargers – a US first. In other words, if an EV charger is installed using federal dollars, then it has to actually work, and to a high standard.
The new national standards will apply to federally funded EV chargers, including National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI)-funded chargers, in all 50 states; Washington, DC; and Puerto Rico.
Initial investments will electrify over 75,000 miles of the national highway system.
The White House announcement rightfully points out:
Until now, there were no comprehensive standards for the installation, operation, or maintenance of EV charging stations, and disparities exist among EV charging stations in key areas, such as connector types, payment methods, data privacy, speed and power of chargers, reliability, and the overall user experience.
So, here are the five new standards from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), with support from the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, that US EV chargers will be required to adhere to – and I’ve written my two cents beneath each of the five new standards, in italics:
Charge predictably and reliably. EV chargers will have to have consistent plug types, power levels, and a minimum number of chargers capable of supporting fast charging.
Um, yes. One of the most annoying things about non-Tesla chargers is that they’re unpredictable. I’ve had to faff around more than I’ve not had to faff around to charge up my ID.4 at Electrify America EV chargers. I need to know that EV chargers are going to work. It’s rare for gas car drivers to find that gasoline pumps are out of order. EV chargers need to be even better than that. Drivers need total peace of mind that chargers work.
Also, put in the fast chargers, please. I get a lot of press releases about new public Level 2 chargers being installed. Level 2 is great at home. It’s great if you’re at the movies. Road trips, not so much. We need more DC fast chargers.
Chargers work when drivers need them to, There’s a new 97% uptime reliability requirement.
Hallelujah. See above. This makes my day.
Drivers can easily find a charger when they need to. Publicly accessible data on locations, price, availability, and accessibility through mapping applications.
So, this is kind of already available with apps like PlugShare and individual apps from EV charging companies like ChargePoint and Electrify America. Of course Tesla is brilliant at this. But there is a lot of room for improvement. See the next point.
Drivers do not have to use multiple apps and accounts to charge. The FHWA is going to require that a single method of ID work across all chargers.
That’s a huge undertaking. But if we can get to a single method of ID to pay across all chargers, combined with a seamless way to find chargers that are consistently working with little to no stress, well, that’s pretty much an EV driver’s Nirvana.
I asked my colleague Chance Miller, editor-in-chief at 9to5Mac, what his biggest wish is for EV charging standards – he drives a Mustang Mach-e – and he said, “The biggest annoyance is that you need a different app, a different account, and a different payment method for different charging stations. The goal should be to create a unified standard that all chargers are required to adopt.”
See? That’s what we needed. Good job, US government.
Chargers will offer forward-looking capabilities like Plug and Charge.
Yes. Like Tesla. The biggest pain in the neck for me is actually trying to connect and pay at non-Tesla chargers. Half the time the EV charger won’t read my app. I don’t want to mess around with my app and my cards. I just want to plug in and charge, like the phrase says.
I don’t know how or when the US government is going to enforce this, I guess they’ll figure it out. Hopefully.
I asked Electrify America what it thought about the new FHWA standards, and a spokesperson emailed me the following statement:
Electrify America is pleased to have its recent news announcements spotlighted in today’s White House Fact Sheet on EV charging and is currently reviewing the rules outlined by the Federal Highway Administration related to chargers to be used in federally funded installations.
The company plans to expand its public charging network to 1,800 charging stations and 10,000 individual chargers in the United States and Canada by 2026.
And I’ll be speaking to experts about how they think the new standards will roll out, and I’ll circle back and share what I learn. But this is the wishlist we as EV drivers all want fulfilled. Creating a set of standards that all EV charger makers must adhere to is exactly what we needed. We want our tax dollars to be put to good use. EV drivers are the customers, and we want and deserve good customer service when we charge up.
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Photo: Electrify America