TAMPA, Fla, (WFLA) —The push to go from gas to electric has resulted in a sharp increase in the greener vehicles on our roads, but the charging stations needed to keep them moving continue to lag behind.
That point was driven home to Chris Pankuch and his wife during a road trip from Los Angeles to Tampa.
Reality is not yet close to the goal of creating a network of 500,000 public charging stations across the country and according to Pankuch, it is easy to find off-line chargers everywhere, including the Tampa Bay area.
Pankuch said there were issues with “almost every other charger” during his long drive earlier this year.
“The whole trip was 55 [to] 56 hours,” Pankuch said. “Fourteen [of those hours we] were charging. About half of them didn’t work for one reason or another.”
Pankuch said the chargers he had issues with were with either off-line or his app to pay for the kilowatts could not connect.
“In some places, we didn’t get a signal and if you don’t get a signal, you can’t activate your account to start the charger,” he said.
Learn more from public survey on charging stations
If you can’t get a signal with your phone, you have to take out your wallet and use a credit card, prompting a $50 deposit on your account every time you charge up your vehicle, Pankuch said.
“During the trip, there were about six of those charges,” he said. “It added up and you don’t get the deposit back right away. We had to call and call and call.”
Pankuch pointed out Tesla charing stations seemed to have fewer issues. According to Green Car Reports, Tesla’s share of the EV market is now about 50%, down from 62% at the start of the year.
Data collected by Here Technologies and SBD Auto indicates Pankuch’s complaints are not unique.
Florida ranked 14th in “EV readiness,” but near the bottom in the number of vehicles per station with just about 21 cars for every roadside charger.
According to a J.D. Power survey, one out of five EV drivers experienced failures at public charging stations, and it was a bit higher than that in Florida.
8 On Your Side witnessed some of those issues at local charging stations.
“Connecting to vehicle. This may take a minute,” Pankuch said after plugging in his car. “You can always see how long we’ve been here. Your gas tank would’ve been full by now.”
The charge did not work.
“This one is always down,” referring to a charger at a station near Bradenton.
Pankuch is not ready to go back to gas, but he came to 8 On Your Side hoping to help others prepare if they decide to go electric.
“I came because we are being forced in a sense to drive electric vehicles. If that’s the case we are going to need to get our infrastructure together,” Pankuch said. “We need to focus on the ones that we have right now before building any new ones because we can’t expand anything if the core doesn’t work.”
Pankuch said he may consider renting a gas-powered car for any long road trips until the efficiency of the infrastructure improves.