We have an electric car. It’s not a super fancy one (it’s bottom of the range) but it’s the best car we’ve ever owned. But it comes with a huge mental cost - charging. Specifically public charging infrastructure.
It’s not about range anxiety: planning around range is relatively simple. Range is a little variable but mostly predictable. Even for long journeys, it’s easy - that’s what Google Maps, Zap-Map and spreadsheets are for. The anxiety comes when you turn up at a charger and discover that it’s offline or, worse, it’s online but refuses to charge your car. DC chargers are significantly worse at doing this than AC chargers, in my experience. Most of my bad experiences have been in Scotland, but I’ve had a few in England. Chargers are binary (working or borked), in short supply (car parks with space for 100 cars with one charger), unpredictable (even “working” ones shown on the “live” map are sometimes faulty) and thus are often not in the binary state of “working” that you need them to be in. Broken chargers are a drag - the DC side of one charger in Aviemore was broken every time we passed over a 4-month period. I appreciate that it might have worked in-between times but that seems unlikely given that someone had tied the charging cable to the unit to make sure unwary drivers didn’t get fooled into thinking it was working. That’s far from the only one we’ve seen broken or attempted to charge from only to need to call the helpline for help.
Another frustration is fully-charged cars locked in to chargers but no owners in sight - charger blocking is totally understandable (people have lives) but the infrastructure isn’t available in the numbers of chargers that would allow for that kind of behaviour.
Every failure to charge (where the charger looks like it might be working but for some reason isn’t) ends up with a call to a call centre, thus the best measure of the customer experience is not to rate the charger uptime (although that would be nice), nor the quality of the app (and oh my word there are so many apps and all varying shades of crap) but instead to rate the call centre on how long you have to wait. And the regular 20-40 minute waits we’ve had are just not cool.
Electric chargers are not the same as petrol pumps, but with a 20-minute rapid charge giving you 60+ miles of additional range for many cars, there’s really no reason that we should not expect to be able to turn up at a car park, charge and hit the road again after a quick wander or cuppa... a 40-minute gruelling hold on a line with no info as to wait times before you can even (maybe) get started with the charging part is very much counter to that efficient, relaxing dream.
On the apps... I’ve tried a few. And if you count the ones that go with the car, the mapping and the charging points from multiple different brands then it’s clear that UX design is not the EV charging app builders’ forte! Then there’s varying pricing models and payment methods for the charging itself - in-app payment, up-front payment, subscription, etc. All would be fine in a market with interoperability but I fear many drivers will be building up unspent and unspendable credit with a bunch of suppliers without realising.
In many ways I think the electric charger market is symptomatic of the “best worst of things” attitude I’ve seen elsewhere where the quality of work is poor but just good enough to pass some kind of self-set bar; utility supply staff endlessly passing to other colleagues - cheerfully - without ever helping solve the problem; car garages booking in cars with known faults for a service, then saying that the service time slot only covers service work and let’s book another appointment in 50 days; house removers turning up with half the team they need to do the job, then having a good old laugh at the retirees being forced to carry boxes as the noon move deadline fast becomes nightfall and their team have woefully - but never apologetically - failed to do their job; gyms accepting new customers but failing to mention huge refurbishment works or significant changes to their timetabled scheduling. Battling through all of this requires a very Deadpool “MAXIMUM EFFORT” approach, which many people can’t/won’t muster, instead leaving people ground down and disappointed.
Just as every great app is eventually just another source of email spam, every poor charger experience is a worse call centre experience.