California driving: Over a quarter of electric car-charging stations in Bay Area not working, study says

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Over 27% of electric vehicle charging stations across the San Francisco Bay Area are not functioning properly, according to a recently published study. 

The Reliability of Open Public Electric Vehicle Direct Current Fast Chargers pointed to a recent survey where drivers of electric vehicles in California reported facing several issues at charging stations – from broken plugs and unexpected shut-offs during charging to payment problems. 

To accurately assess the reliability of these charging stations, the study looked into the efficiency of 657 charging plugs at 181 public stations across nine counties in the Bay Area. The study did not include Tesla charging stations.

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David Rempel, a retired bioengineering professor from the University of California, Berkeley, and volunteers with the nonprofit Cool the Earth evaluated the stations for two minutes to see if problems arose. 

An Electric Vehicle charging station in Monterey Park, California on May 18, 2021.  (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Just over 72% of the plugs were still functional, according to the report. However, nearly 23% were either unresponsive, had issues with screens, payment system failures, charge initiation failures, network failures, or broken plugs, according to the study. 

At another 4.9% of stations, the charging cable was too short, according to the data. 

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A random evaluation of 10% of the charging plugs more than a week later also "demonstrated no overall change in functionality," according to the study. 

"In order to achieve a rapid transition to electric vehicle driving, a highly reliable and easy to use charging infrastructure is critical to building confidence as consumers shift from using familiar gas vehicles to unfamiliar electric vehicles," the study said. 

Rempel told The San Francisco Chronicle that for some sites, you have to call a 1-800 number for help, which can add another 10 to 20 minutes to the process. 

"That shouldn’t be the case," he said. 

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This comes as California is working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by "40% below 1990 levels by 2030," according to the California Air Resources Board. 

However, EVgo, one of the top charging network operators, told the Chronicle that the company is "dedicated to identifying the root causes of these issues and correcting them." EVgo also noted that the industry is still in its "infancy." 

EVgo and Gov. Gavin Newsom's office did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.  

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