YEARS in the making, EVgo this week released their first app for consumers on both Android and iOS. I’ve tried it on both platforms and have gotten similar results in a little over a day of testing with two separate EVgo 50kW DC fast chargers. I tested both the Chevy Bolt with CCS SAE Combo charger and the Tesla Model X with Chademo adapter. So, how’d we do?
Run your house off your car and an inverter
I’ve used EVgo quite a bit in the past and have been using their Vermont stations in both Manchester and Bennington since I got a Tesla CHAdeMO adapter a few years ago. Tesla’s Superchargers are pretty light in the SW Vermont area (Albany, Brattleboro, and Burlington are all an hour plus away) and we ski in the winter and go camping in the summer in the area which is about 180 miles from our suburban New York City home.
My experience with EVgo has been 2 sided. On one hand, they are pretty much the only fast charging game in town in the area and I’m thankful that they are up there in Vermont. Also they have both 50kW CHAdeMO and SAE Combo chargers so you can charge just about any vehicle that can take a DC fast charge including a Tesla Model S/3/X with the $450 Chademo adapter.
But on the other hand, the experience has been lacking, especially when compared to Tesla’s free, easy, faster Supercharging network. My gripes fall into the following categories:
- EVgo stations stop charging after 30 minutes (!!). If charging from empty and hoping to get near full, that’s 3-4 times I have to re-initiate a charge at $4.95/ea (before the app, this meant I had to actually go back to the charger and either swipe my RFID card or call and ask an operator to do it). EVgo says this is because they cater to the LEAFs, i3 and other sub 100-mile range cars and have been saying they are considering updating this asinine policy for literally years. But here we are.
- The stations in my experience have been unreliable. Twice I’ve gone to stations that have been not working which I confirmed with phone operators. Once in NY and once in Vermont. EVgo tells me they have a 99% uptime so I might have just been unlucky there but each time has added hours/detours to my trip to slower level 2 chargers.
- I never get near the 50kW that the stations are rated for. In the Bolt, I may hit 40kW if I’m lucky and empty. In the Tesla, I start around 45kW. Compare this to Tesla’s Superchargers where I often start out above 100kW. Chevy Bolts can max out at about 55kW but I’ve never got much above 40kW at any DC charging station including EVgo’s.
- Your credit card is charged by time and not by kilowatts. So EVgo isn’t incentivized to deliver the fastest charge. If your car is cold or near full, it will charge at level 2 speeds (As you’ll see in the video below) but you are still charged the same rate.
- You can’t just roll up to a station and charge with your credit card or Android/Apple Pay..which is dumb because every terminal has RFID readers and an internet connection. With the app, you can now sign up, enter your credit card and charge all in a few minutes…which is nice.
- I end up paying about $12 for each 30 minute charge. Depending on the temperature outside and how full my batteries are, that means I can get about 10-20kWh per charge. That’s $.50 over a dollar per kilowatt which is a lot more than people pay at home which is closer to $.10/kWH. I realize that EVgo is a business and they have to recoup their costs but when charging at level 2 chargers, I’m rarely charged above $.25/kWh
…and up until this week there was no app. That’s obviously changed and I’ll give EVgo some credit: It does work as advertised. Sure it crashed a few times and forgot who I was and most of the things above that I dislike aren’t going to be fixed by the app…but overall it is a big improvement in the experience.
- Start a charge – your phone can start with a quick swipe to the right. This is made important by EGgo’s stupid, artificial 30-minute charge limit. So if you are shopping or eating you can just set an alarm and initiate a charge again. I know WTF but better.
- Locate chargers with turn-by-turn directions, real-time availability and ability to save your favorite locations. I found this to be surprisingly good and accurate. Start up the app and within a second, the nearest charger is located. Click on it and you are given SAE or CHAdeMO options. Click one of those and swipe to start charging
- Charge Log – review your charging sessions. They’ve thankfully broken up my charging sessions into the 30-minute intervals
- Account management – update payment information. I already had my info in the system so I can’t vouch for how easy this is for first times but you can also do this on the web.
As you can see from the video below, it isn’t all gravy but it is a huge improvement over what we had before.
Most importantly and this is my huge takeaway, people can roll up to a EVgo charger (or better yet, do this in the minutes as they approach one), download the app, sign in and enter their credit card number and begin charging right away.
I also like the speed and simplicity of the GPS. The app almost immediately knows where you are. Two simple clicks later you are ready to initiate the charge. You can also tell ahead of time if a charging station is being used and is online. This inspires a lot more confidence, especially after being burned in the past.
If I could, I would like to propose some priorities for EVgo:
- Eliminate the 30-minute charging and reinitiation BS. I know it is part of the business model but it absolutely kills the experience for anyone who has more than 100 miles of range on their car. Which is everyone in the near future.
- Fix the app. More annoying than the crashes are the having to re-sign in every time. I’m told EVgo is aware of this and is fixing it in a newer version of the app. Better yet, use the devices Fingerprint/face recognition for authentication.
- More stations! Now that you have the app and electric car sales are booming, let’s start making money. Put these in rest stops along the freeway and partner with smart retailers who will subsidize the cost for having a captive audience for an hour.
- Faster Stations. I’d pay more for the same kWh if I could get them faster. I know 150kW and 350kW stations are coming but bring them to market faster!
- More partnerships: EVgo is already partnered with BMW, Nissan and Ford. But how about Chevy, Hyundai and…Tesla?! I can’t be the only Tesla owner who appreciates a fast charge where no Superchargers are planned. Continue to work with Blink and Chargepoint on making charging easier.
I’m looking forward to more conversations with EVgo in the near future and will share them here on Electrek.