A Peek at Electrify America's Charging Station Future

Outside of Electric America Flagship Location
Credit: Roberto Baldwin/SAE


The move to electrification has hit a snag. The charging infrastructure hasn't quite lived up to the needs of those with EVs. The Inflation Reduction Act requires that charging stations have a 97% uptime to qualify for government funds. According to a plethora of studies, approximately 20% (or more) of stations encountered by EV drivers have some sort of issue that results in a failed session. 

Of those charging companies, Electrify America has become a bit of a punching bag. Its relatively large footprint in the DC fast-charging sector means that its stations are visited more often than others and its issues become far more visible. 

Moving forward though, companies like Electrify America are listening to customers and there's no larger evidence of this than the company's new flagship location at 928 Harrison St., San Francisco. 

In late February, the company opened the indoor facility with 20 DC-fast charging stations each capable of delivering electricity at up to 350 kW. There's also a CHAdeMo charger for owners of the Nissan Leaf. It's a facility with a station number on par with what we've seen from Tesla. But more importantly, during a recent visit, everything worked. 

Interior Electrify America Flagship location
Credit: Roberto Baldwin/SAE


During SAE's 45-minute visit to charge an EV, none of those that pulled up for electricity encountered some of the reliability issues that have plagued EV drivers for years. Stations connected to vehicles and delivered electricity at a reasonable rate. 

The quick delivery of power and large amount of stations meant that there was a constant flow of new EVs at the stations. The 800-volt vehicles that can support electricity delivered above 200kW left the quickest, but even those individuals took a few minutes to leave their vehicles and enjoy the amenities offered by Electrify America. 

The location has two lounges with free Wi-Fi, two restrooms, two vending machines, and even a small conference room. The entire facility was well lit and the furniture was comfortable. The only thing seemingly missing from the location, was a coffee bar.

Another important feature of the location is that it's staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An employee wearing a security outfit greeted every vehicle with a smile and played traffic guide to those pulling in. The addition of onsite staff gives drivers a sense of comfort. If a charging station goes down, the staff can call in a technician. 

By placing a large number of charging stations that have increased uptime and can deliver electricity at up to 305 kW, Electrify America is solving one of the main reasons why some people skip buying an EV. If the system works as reliably as a gas station, those on the fence about electric vehicles will feel more comfortable taking the plunge. 

Interior Lounge Electrify America Flagship
Credit: Roberto Baldwin/SAE


It also makes the lives of those who own an EV better. 

San Francisco resident Matthew Villeneuve told SAE that to supplement at-home charging from a 120 V outlet, he will regularly head out to a local supermarket. "I charge at midnight, otherwise I might show up to Safeway and wait an hour." 

At this flagship, he pulled up in his Polestar, plugged in, and had a nice snack with his daughter in the lounge in the middle of the day, on the weekend. 

Expect more locations like this from other companies including from IONNA,  the seven-automaker charging company joint-venture. As NACS (J3400) becomes the norm on EVs, drivers will also experience the Tesla charging locations with lounges. Getting a jump on other automakers, Ford announced that its electric vehicles (via an adaptor) are now supported by the Tesla Supercharger network. It's huge news for Ford owners and a sign of what's to come for the owners of other vehicles. 

The future of charging is looking brighter all the time and that future requires the staffing of locations and a robust team of charging station technicians. A better experience means more jobs and the end result, a cleaner world. 

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