As more drivers go electric and more EV charging stations continue to spring up, hiccups are to be expected as we move from early to mass adoption—just like when the first cell phones came out. 

Remember those? They were the size of bricks, and service was spotty at best. But early adopters saw their potential. As the technology evolved, so did expectations, and cell phones eventually went from being cool gadgets to necessities, even replacing landlines for many households. But what would’ve become of cell phones if cellular service was down half the time? 

Just like we learned from the mobile revolution, the EV industry is well aware of uptime issues and is handling its growing pains. Looking from the outside in, drivers often compare the EV charging experience to gas stations. And that’s natural – before trying an EV, it’s the only frame of reference most people have. But the truth is in a lot of cases, they are really different.  

EVs open a whole new realm of opportunities as, most of the time, you’ll likely charge at home or at your destination. Public charging – like fast chargers – will probably only be part of your journey when you’re travelling long distances or having a heavy driving day. And that’s where the anxiety comes in. If you’re stopping at a charger on your big road trip or using public charging as an alternative to home charging, you’d be right to expect it to work. This is exactly why uptime is such an important topic. 

Are EVs for everyone? Learn more in this podcast episode. 

Charging solutions need to work for everyone when they need it, and we’re working hard to make the transition from gas to electric as seamless as possible. 

What’s EV charger uptime anyway? 

Uptime measures the availability of EV charging networks to users. More specifically, it’s the percentage of time that a charging station is operational, i.e., available for use by EV drivers. However, uptime statistics don’t typically include unavailability due to physical damage, vehicles blocking a station or issues linked to upstream connectivity or electrical supply.  

FLO strives to achieve uptime of 98% or more. While there are currently no industry standards or requirements when it comes to measuring uptime, we think it’s important to be transparent about it. If you want to know more about how we’re measuring uptime, this article explains everything 

Why exceptional uptime matters  

Good uptime helps deliver a seamless experience to EV drivers. It’s crucial for the future of the electric mobility industry. Here are a few reasons why: 

  • Mass adoption: EV drivers are EV ambassadors. Just like bad reviews can affect the success of restaurants and hotels, negative experiences shared with family, friends, neighbours and the media can put people off switching to electric. One instance of downtime can generate bad feelings and press for the whole industry.
     
  • Businesses: Private companies installing EV charging stations for their customers or employees often do so to gain a competitive edge, but a broken charger can affect their brand, reputation and customer loyalty.
     
  • Cities and public services: As services like ambulances, firetrucks and public transportation start to depend on electricity, the reliability of charging equipment and networks will become even more vital. 

The good news is, with higher adoption comes higher expectations. As a result, governments are starting to demand uptime reporting from networks that receive public funding. Just like California did recently 

Easing anxiety for EV drivers: 2 lessons learned from gas stations 

While lots of EV charging happens at home and at work, public EV charging shares some aspects with traditional gas fuelling. What are some lessons we can pull from that industry (and maybe even improve on?)  

1. Gas stations are abundant, and you’re almost never too far from one. 

  • EV reality: The (un)availability of public charging stations is a real source of anxiety for some drivers. Surveys show it can be a major roadblock for many drivers who haven’t yet gone electric. 
  • Solution: The more, the merrier, as in the more reliable EV stations there are, the higher the availability of public charging and the happier the EV community. Deploying more sites, and aiming for a higher number of ports per site, will help ease charging anxiety for existing and future EV owners. Discover the positive impact EV charging stations can have on your business.
  • Improvement: EV charging stations don’t emit harmful petrochemicals or present a risk of ground contamination, and they don’t need large tanks to store energy, so they can be deployed at more places than gas stations. They also come in a range of speeds, which means they can be deployed cost effectively and in a way that is targeted at the optimal charging time for a particular area. 

EV charging in Alaska: reliable EV charging in extreme conditions thanks to rugged design. 

2. Gas station etiquette is well known and respected.  

  • EV reality: Imagine waiting in line at the gas station, only to see a driver leaving the nozzle in once the car is full and going to a nearby restaurant to eat a bite. Sounds ridiculous; we all know pumps are not parking spaces. Sadly, public charger users often have to deal with both electric and gas cars blocking spots.  
  • Solution: The EV industry is working on raising awareness and changing mindsets to help keep stations unblocked and available. Station owners can install proper signage to indicate parking rules and enforce tickets or towing where necessary. To learn more on how to be a considerate EV driver, check out our Do’s and Don’ts 
  • Improvement: Site hosts on the FLO network can use advanced billing options that increase prices after a certain period of charging time to encourage turn over during the day, and than provide a flat rate on overnight charging for level 2 curbside chargers, helping site hosts set the right incentives to encourage the best charging efficiency.  

Continue reading: Paying by the kWh, what does it mean? 

In it together 

The day all EV charging stations achieve high uptime will be a good day for the industry as a whole, and we’re working hard to move the industry there as quickly as possible. 

Ready to join the movement and become an EV charging station owner? As an EV charging solution provider, a network operator and a leader in uptime, FLO can provide you with network management and monitoring services to keep chargers running smoothly, as well as driver support services. We’d love to discuss your project!