Blink EV Charging Stations Draw a Blank


Public charging stations are becoming an important element of EV adoption.

Among the companies building and deploying these stations are Ecotality and Coulomb, both of which have received government subsidies to help them build out the infrastructure.  Both are experiencing growth in activations across the nation, and both employ a subscription model allowing subscribers to plug in and charge at any station they find.  Non subscribers can swipe a credit card and pay per charge.

At least that’s how its supposed to work, but an investigation by John Voelcker ant GreenCarReports, has disclosed the Ecotality Blink stations are not very helpful.

A Chevy Volt driver pulled up to a Blink station in an IKEA in California.  Since he didn’t have an RFID card to use for charging, he called the 1-800 number on the station.  He’d had success with that method using Coulomb stations to he figured it would work with the Blink.  Unfortunately it did not.  The operator could not remotely turn on the station, as Coulomb did, nor could he sign up the driver as a new customer. “The guy on the phone was no help, and sounded as if he couldn’t care less about my problem,” Jeff U’Ren told GreenCarReports.

Expanding on this concern, a recent reliability report found only 10% of Coulomb chargers were non-functional compared to 25% of Blink stations.

This is not exactly the type of operation a company receiving $115 million from the US government should display, nor does it help the nascent shift to EVs.

Hopefully there will be time to work out the bugs, as Ecotality has plans to deploy faster level 3 chargers as well.  For now Coulomb gets the win.

Source (GreenCarReports)

Categories: Charging


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7 Comments on "Blink EV Charging Stations Draw a Blank"

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I heard they are pulling all of them out up in Syracuse NY…


Yeah, I’m here in Syracuse, and they have done just that. It was more related, allegedly, to issues with payment tracking and usage tracking. There were also a lot of chargers that didn’t work.

I had issues with the new ChargePoint station reading my credit card, but upon calling the number, they were at least able to unlock the station remotely.

To expound a bit, while the Blink chargers were all removed, they were replaced with ChargePoint stations.

As formerly stated by ClarksonCote, they have indeed pulled out all Blink chargers here in Syracuse, and replaced them with Coulomb. From my experience with the Blink chargers, more than 50% of those installed in Syracuse were non-functioning. EcoTality was non-responsive in actually getting them fixed – they seemed as though they could care less. The Coulomb chargers that I have encountered so far have been 100% functional. This is pretty important since often times the chargers get ICE’d (blocked by gas cars). There is one lot downtown with a line of 14 chargers, 12-13 of which seem to be ICE’d at any given time.

The current state of affairs is ridiculous. However, the nature of our free country is that good ideas and good business will eventually succeed. There may be a period of ‘creative destruction’ as the worse approaches are weeded out from the better approaches. But eventually there will be low cost or free public charging stations everywhere, probably largely as a perk to shoppers (kind of like free WiFi is today).

A pile of free government money up-front and without accountability is a recipe for fraud/failure. I think it would make more sense to offer $115 million of tax credits to business owners that decide to install charging stations.

I just received and will be installing a Blink public EVSE in my restaurant’s parking lot in Montclair, NJ in a couple weeks. I believe it will be the first public Blink EVSE in New Jersey. I am also installing a Coulomb EVSE that is using the ChargePoint Network so my restaurant will have both Blink and ChargePoint network EVSE’s available.

I don’t know of anywhere that has both networks on site. If anybody knows of a location that does, please let me know.