I’m driving a beautiful 2023 Genesis GV70 electric vehicle this week and having just spent the last two days zipping all over the state, my battery was looking pretty depleted. The problem is, as an occasional EV driver, I haven’t spent the money to install a 220V fast charger so my home charge is the rather painfully slow 6kW/h 110V plug that’s included with the vehicle. It’s slow. It’s an extra mile or two every hour of charge slow. Certainly far too slow to recover the almost 200 miles I’d driven since it showed up in my driveway.
There’s a network of EV chargers in my area, but it’s quite confusing to figure out how they work and which ones are better than others. The most common are ChargePoint chargers, but a typical ChargePoint charger in my experience is at 6-7 kW/h, basically the same super slow speed as my home charger. That’s no use. Other companies have faster (higher voltage) chargers, but there are a number of companies and even their chargers aren’t consistent. Then there’s the puzzle of exactly what chargers are compatible with your particular EV, something that will probably have you poking around on the dealer’s site or doing a few Google searches. For example, the Genesis has the following charging plug:
The top circular portion is Type 1 J1772. Add in the lower DC portion and the rather complicated configuration is a CCS Combo Type 1. Not very user friendly names, but the key is “CCS” and that’s what to look for in this case. The other popular plugs are Tesla (which has its own configuration and, often, own Tesla-only chargers) and CHAdeMO, There are a few others, but these are the three you’ll encounter most frequently in the EV world. Turns out a Google search for “ev charger near me” reveals them on the map, but, again, it’s up to the searcher to figure out what’s what. In my area, the most powerful chargers are from Electrify America, and they seem to mostly be located in Walmart parking lots.
Knowing I was going to use an Electrify America charging station for the Genesis, I downloaded the app, set up an account, and entered my credit card. For a full-price electricity rate, there’s no monthly membership fee or charge, but if you do want to be a frequent user, for $7.00/mo (current price) you can get a break on the per-kilowatt price. The app offers excellent, detailed information about each of its charging stations, including the one I decided to visit in Lafayette, Colorado:
Most importantly, it offers In Use/Available information so you don’t show up just to find cars parked in each spot. (Credit to Electrify America, though, they actually add an additional fee if your vehicle is fully charged and you don’t promptly free up the space!). When I pulled in three of the spots were in use and Station #2 was available, but the screen was off. Luckily, someone pulled out of slot 4 so I just pulled into that spot instead.
With the app already set up on my iPhone, it was a breeze to pull into the spot, plug in the charger, then go to the display and use Tap To Pay to pair it with my account and get the charge started:
It estimated that going from 20% charged to 80% charged would take 20 minutes, a figure I couldn’t initially believe after suffering through the 6kW/h 110v charge. 20 minutes! I locked it and went to walk around Walmart. While I was in the store, I could keep track of the charge right on the app:
You can see that it was already at 52% and charging at a rate of 153kW. A swipe revealed the cost so far:
and another swipe showed the accumulated power consumed:
Chugging right along, almost gaining a percentage point of charge every minute. 22 minutes later I paid for my few purchases and walked out of Walmart. The charging screen gave basic stats:
20% to 84% charge in 23 minutes. Not quite the speed of a gas pump, but not bad either. Rather a game changer if you’re able to access one while on a long drive, no question. I tapped “Stop” and it promptly warned me:
Notice the message: “Grace Period: 10 minutes left until idle fees”. This neatly solves one of the other concerns people have with EV charging stations, that people will charge up and then leave their car for hours because they’re shopping, at a movie, etc. In total, I paid $26.88 to gain approximately 173 miles of range. By comparison, my Mazda CX-5 gets 27mpg so with gas at $3.75/gal, that same range would have cost me $24.02. Just a smidge less but the real win is having a more powerful home charger: My local electricity is billed at about $0.10kW/h, in which case this same charge would have cost $5.67 in total.
Finally, in the app, a nice summary of the transaction:
I was a bit worried pulling into the charging spot having never used the system before but I have to admit, it was a breeze. If you’re poised to have your first EV charging experience, just do a bit of prep work by setting things up on your mobile device (including billing) in advance. Easy.