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.