August 26, 2023: ChargePoint Sucks

Crusty, Unreliable, Slow

Just a quick vent... Normally I take advantage of Superchargers available to me where I happen to stop by for errands or do quick shopping. On a rare occasion I curiously park into a spot that has a ChargePoint stall to give that non-NACS experience a spin.

Sometimes I'm at a local Target where both Superchargers and ChargePoint CT4000 stations are scattered around the parking lot. The ChargePoints here offer a couple of free hours while you shop (presumably until you drop). I've had somewhat negative experiences in the past with non-working stations but figured surely a long-standing company like ChargePoint would get these back up and running pronto.

Disappointment. A few weeks ago I tried one of these stations and after scanning my club card across the reader and plugged the J1772 in, the display kept showing that charging was in progress when clearly the car wasn't seeing anything. Of course this doesn't have the same sort of communication handshake like Tesla Superchargers but I figure if there's no current flowing then surely the station's onboard screen would say so.

A few days ago I tried this same station again with the same results. Either ChargePoint doesn't know when something isn't working or they don't have staff to promptly diagnose/repair issues. So I tried another station a couple of spots down. This time the thing didn't even work and the screen was so dim that I could barely make out any information displayed about problems. Feels like Fry's Electronics operational technology quality coupled with archaic software that never made it to beta.

I swung around to another section of the parking lot where there were some CT4011 Single units and finally was able to get some amps going. At 6 kW. 6 kW! Admittedly I'm spoiled by the native Supercharging experience but this just reeks of being cheap. To be fair a couple of hours of charging at this rate will bring me back to the same level of charge that I started out with when I began driving to this location ... but 6 kW, really? This is like drinking a slow trickle of room temperature tap water that's advertised as premium natural spring water extracted directly from the Alps.

So when you combine the crusty looking handles (all of them are super dirty with a layer of COVID-crud on them) with station inoperability along with cheap-looking display UI and a slow rate of charge, it's a huge turn-off. Owners of vehicles who don't have access to Superchargers have a much different on-the-go experience than Tesla owners and it's important to recognize that barrier when looking at the whole EV adoption curve. Tesla Superchargers are pretty reliable with only technical issues seen on a rare occasion, and when that happens they seem to address it quickly. Although I've been somewhat aware of difficulties related to non-Tesla charging setups over the years, I've been living in a bubble and yeah, ChargePoint needs to step up their game big time.

Other ChargePoint locations may differ in experience but my overall impression from what I've heard isn't so rosy. If you're driving somewhere and have to take a gamble on whether the ChargePoint at your destination may be working or not brings back that old notion of range anxiety. No wonder why so many vehicle manufacturers and other charging companies are adopting NACS.

But to be fair the charge was free, so I got that going for me, which is nice.