A Big Challenge to Electric Vehicles: The Inconsistent Charging Infrastructure
November 19, 2023 at 15:35
Of all the drawbacks stereotypically attributed to electric vehicles, perhaps the biggest issue is the availability and quality of charging infrastructure. Public charging sources are still far from optimal, as exemplified by the experience of one Rivian R1T Max Pack owner.
This particular owner, @MissGoElectric, recently posted about her new Rivian R1T Dual Motor Performance with the Max Pack. She arrived at a charging station with only 1% battery left and plugged in under ideal conditions – 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside and access to a 350kW DC Fast Charger at an Electrify America station.
Rivian’s Max Pack is capable of storing 180 kWh of energy, which theoretically should allow for a quick charge from 0% to 100% in well under an hour on a 350kW charger. However, the reality proved to be quite different. The charger delivered significantly less power than its label suggested. It started charging at 198kW and peaked at 204kW when the battery was at 16% state of charge (SOC). Within ten minutes, the battery had only reached 20%, equivalent to about 80 miles of range.
Based on calculations, the charging should have been completed in less than 50 minutes, but the charging speed dropped considerably. It peaked at 183kW between 30% and 65% SOC, but mostly stayed below 150kW. At 67% SOC, the rate dropped further to just 109kW. It took 38 minutes to reach 70%, another ten minutes to get to 80%, and by the time she reached 85%, the charge rate was below 50kW. The R1T estimated it would take an additional 1 hour and 8 minutes to reach 100%.
It is important to note that this particular owner had a large battery pack that still provided 352 miles of range at 85% SOC. EV batteries tend to slow down after reaching about 80% SOC, so this issue cannot be attributed solely to Rivian or any other EV automaker. Many battery electric vehicles, including the R1T, have impressive fast charging capabilities. However, the inconsistency of the charging experience remains a significant challenge. For now, the most reliable solution seems to be charging electric vehicles at home overnight, even though it may not offer the same speed as DC Fast Charging.
The experience shared by @MissGoElectric highlights the need for improvements in public charging infrastructure. Although electric vehicles have come a long way, charging accessibility and reliability are vital factors that need to be addressed in order to encourage more widespread adoption.