It’s as if we’ve hopped into a time machine and landed smack dab in the middle of the gas crisis of the Carter administration. But this time, instead of dry or broken gas station pumps, it’s electric vehicle charging stations that are leaving drivers high and dry.
— gkenney (@gkenney) November 15, 2023
A Wall Street Journal report recently detailed the totally tubular experience of trying to charge an electric vehicle in the super-liberal, oh-so-green city of Los Angeles. Columnist Joanna Stern and her trusty sidekick, Adam Falk, set out to test 30 non-Tesla fast-charging stations and discovered that a whopping 40 percent of them had some kind of issue. Oof, indeed.
The EV capital of America has more public DC fast chargers than any other place in the country, but that doesn’t mean they work. From the sunny shores of Santa Monica to the glitzy parking garages under Rodeo Drive, Stern and Falk ran into problems at 13 of the 30 stations they visited.
The issues ranged from plain ol’ broken chargers to payment snafus. A full 27 percent of the individual fast chargers at the surveyed stations weren’t working for one reason or another. And while some problems could be solved simply by turning the charging unit off and on again (yup, the ol’ IT adage works for car chargers, too), others required replacement parts.
But it’s not just the hardware that’s causing headaches. The payment system at one station rejected Stern’s credit card, demanding “CASH ONLY” as if she’d just stumbled across a hot-dog stand in the park.
And then there’s the issue of “handshakes” between the charger and the car. No, it’s not a friendly greeting between two devices; it’s a software error that results in the car being unchargeable. The solution? Get the industry to agree on a standard. Good luck with that, considering how positively Tesla owners view their system, which only works with Teslas. Oh, and don’t forget about having to use an adapter between non-Tesla vehicles and Tesla’s charging standard.
Perhaps the most mind-boggling part of all of this is that California wants to ban the sale of internal-combustion cars by 2035. Meanwhile, 40 percent of the chargers in the state’s biggest city don’t work.
And it’s not just Los Angeles. A study by the University of California, Berkeley found that 22.7 percent of plugs in the Bay Area weren’t working properly and 4.9 had cords that were too short to reach the vehicles. And even on a tour to promote electric vehicles, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s entourage couldn’t find places to charge at times.
This is what California wants to inflict on the entire country. Oh, and by the way, if you find yourself thinking all of this sounds like a terrible idea, a lot of people seem to agree with you. So much so that electric car prices are dropping like a stone because they’re not selling. And yet, if California gets its way, this could be the future — even though it frequently feels like the past.
If that’s not enough to make you pray that lawmakers in Sacramento might change their minds, we don’t know what will. And don’t delude yourself into believing the rest of the country isn’t far behind. It’s a scary world out there – or at least a scary California.