Craziest charging station you've been to?

Just curious, anyone here who has an electric vehicle and gone on a long trip what’s the craziest charging station you’ve come across?

I came across one that was working.


Do they have a lot of problems?

I can’t speak to any but my own observation, but a lot around here get broken frequently, and we also have problems with assholes in large trucks deliberately blocking access.

I don’t know that this qualifies as crazy, but it was definitely something.

We bought our Leaf in January, in upstate New York, a little over 300 miles from home. Our Leaf has a nominal range of about 200 miles, so we knew we would have to charge it at least once – preferably twice – in order to get home. In preparation for the trip, I had used apps and the Internet to map out what were 4 reported fast chargers on our route (with some minor detours), so that shouldn’t have been a big deal.

What I didn’t know at the time was that, when it comes to charging, the Internet is full of lying liars who lie.

We pulled up to the first fast charger location, about 100 miles into our trip. The battery is just over 50%, and my wife is starting to have some range anxiety (she’s driving the new car, I’m in our 16 year old Prius which was obviously just fine). The charger is at a Nissan dealership, and I called the dealership to make sure that they had a fast charger. They said they did, and it was free for Nissan owners. Perfect! We pulled up to the dealership, and, lo and behold, right by the dealership front doors, there is a charging station. Awesome. The dealership doesn’t close for another hour, so it should be perfect.

One problem: it’s not a fast charger. It’s a level 2 (slow) charger. For those without electric cars, it would take about 4 hours to charge the Leaf back up to 80%. That’s not really a problem when you’re plugging in at home, but is sub-optimal when you’re trying to drive another 200 miles that evening.

Talking with the guy at the dealership, he says he doesn’t know much about electric cars (which, given that Nissan has been selling the Leaf for 12 years at that point, is a bit disconcerting). He did hear that the Nissan dealership about 40 miles down the road has a fast charger, however, so I call them. They confirm they have a charger! I had also mapped out another fast charger via an app, which indicated there was a charger at a gas station about 20 miles down the road. Perfect! Between these two, things will work out.

20 miles down the road, pull up to the charger at the gas station. It’s busted. I’m literally watching the computer inside the charger go through a boot loop, where the memory gets checked, the hard disk gets checked, then it crashes back to the beginning. Awesome. We’re down to 40% battery, but there’s another one 20 miles away. So we head to the next charger.

We get to the next charger (also at a Nissan dealership). We pull up and… it’s also a level 2 (slow) charger. So we could charge there for 4 hours or so if we wanted to. My wife plugs in and… nothing. The dealership is about to close, but I walk in and ask. They say they turned off the charger because they’re all about to go home and they don’t make it available after hours. Based on the app, the next fast charger that the Leaf can use is about 65 miles away – which would be right at the ragged theoretical edge of it’s range at this point – and my wife’s anxiety has reached the point she is ready to murder me.

The saving grace comes when one of the sales floor guys overhears my conversation with the manager and says “hey, is that new thing out back working yet?” To which the manager says “I don’t know, but that’s for, like, Teslas and stuff.” What? WTF? So the dealership closes up and we go around to the back of the dealership.

There, in all its glory, is a brand new charging station. It has fast chargers for Tesla, CCS2 (the standard used by everyone except Tesla and my Leaf), and chademo (the standard used by my leaf). When I say it’s brand new, I mean there’s still plastic wrap around the damn chargers. It has clearly never been used. But the screen says it’s open for business, just put the data into their app on your phone and it’ll unlock.

So we did. And it unlocked. And 30 minutes later, we were fully charged and on our way.

EDIT: of the two remaining fast chargers that I had mapped, another was broken, and the fourth was occupied for two hours by an Audi with no one sitting in it. So we ended up sitting outside waiting for this dude to come back for two hours before we could top things off and get home. But we did get home.

This experience also meant that my wife gave me no argument at all when I proposed we install a level 2 charger in our garage. We have used a public charger exactly once since January – all other charging has been at home, where, thanks to our solar panels, it costs us next to nothing.

I’m kinda curious what the thread is looking for. Charging stations are basically like gas stations – utilitarian “does this work, and are there amenities nearby?” So similarly, I don’t think of the station itself as crazy, but there might be a crazy story/situation that was at a station (like Aleck’s journey for a charger).

The closest I can think of, in the same way that I consider Buc-ee’s a crazy gas station because it’s so big, is that there is a Tesla Supercharger station in Kettleman City that has its own coffee shop, but that’s only noteworthy because it’s one of the very few that I’m aware of that is like that, and gas stations already had convenience stores and takeout food inside/nearby, so it’s not even that crazy. I guess on the opposite side of the spectrum, I’ve been to a Tesla Supercharger that was flagged as “minimal amenities” in the app, and that meant “there are charging stations and a trailer for bathrooms, that’s it.”

The non-Tesla stations I’ve used for my Chevy Bolt have just been charging stands near strip malls, restaurants or rest stops.

My prediction is in 5 years the charging infrastructure will catch up. But right now its a mess.

That’s certainly the case in my area. A couple of the chargers I used to use are broken and have been for months. No one seems to care. At another place three of the four were broken but they recently fixed all of them, so good on 'em.

No crazy stories, though.

When I took my trip to South Carolina, I was concerned about broken chargers and truck jerks blocking the chargers. But I never experienced any of that and so a lot of my anxiety was for nothing. I used the PlugShare app which lets you see crowd sourced evaluations of chargers, so when I was planning to pick a specific charger, I would check it out on PlugShare and see if people reported it working or broken. we did end up going to a Station that had one broken charger (out of two) but while we were there, someone else tried to use the broken charger and the charger was remotely rebooted and fixed.

The biggest issue was having to deal with multiple different networks of chargers and having to create accounts and attach credit cards to a bunch of different apps to use the chargers.

The craziest part of that story is that you drove 600 miles for a new car!

Is this an actual thing, and if so, why? To own the libs?

Seems like a great way to get a truck keyed or tire slashed.

I will admit to being a bit of a bargain shopper at times. The difference between the local dealership and the one in NY ended up being about $6,000 (on a $37,000 car!)

It is in the mall near my house. I’m sure it is tribalism, because the chargers are well away from regular parking and the spots around the chargers are rarely if ever full.

I haven’t run into a lot of ICE trucks blocking the charger, but similarly, on a recent trip, we stayed at a hotel that offered free level 2 charging. It was good for the first night, but the chargers were installed in the same spots as the handicapped parking, so there were nights where there was a random ICE truck or van with a handicap placard on it and the charger was then inaccessible/not useable.

Gave some feedback when checking out that when investing into/planning out future chargers, they should factor in how those handicapped spots affected charging access.