Home Credit card Electric vehicle drivers are calling for a credit card payment system at charging stations for an easier user experience

Electric vehicle drivers are calling for a credit card payment system at charging stations for an easier user experience

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Drivers also say more fast-charging stations are needed across the province. BC Hydro says it’s adding more chargers and considering a credit card system.

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In Metro Vancouver, transit riders can easily board the SkyTrain without having to get a ticket or download an app just by tapping their credit card.

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So why can’t the same system be used for electric vehicle charging stations?

Electric vehicle charging stations are not all operated by the same company or government agency in British Columbia and across Canada, which means many drivers end up with multiple apps on their phone to operate different terminals when they travel.

Harry Constantine, president of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, said it would be a much friendlier system to have a credit card option.

“The biggest problem is that each network has its own system,” he said. “You need an app or you need a card and this card does not work with other networks.”

The BC Hydro app also has supports FLO and ChargePoint chargers, but as Constantine points out, many other companies operate charging stations across Canada.

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“In the UK, for example, every charger has to accept payment by credit card, so nationally we have no legislation to dictate how chargers are activated,” he said. .

“Anyone who has an electric vehicle ends up with a dozen apps on their phone.”

Problems arise, he said, when someone runs out of data or their phone dies, or if there’s a service outage like Rogers shut down last month.

BC Hydro said it was studying the feasibility of a credit card system.

“I have been told that the team is currently investigating a credit card payment option, but we are still in the research and evaluation stage. We are also exploring other technology options that may help,” said Simi Heer, spokesperson for BC Hydro.

Overall, Seer said BC Hydro’s charging stations are very reliable — a sentiment echoed by Constantine, who said he hadn’t heard any criticism of BC Hydro’s power plants failing. However, he has heard many complaints about PetroCan chargers not working or not being maintained.

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Suncor, owner of PetroCan charging stations, did not return a request for comment.

Coquitlam resident Stephen Fung is very happy with his electric vehicle and spends a lot of time driving between British Columbia and Alberta with three children in the back seat.

He has about half a dozen apps on his phone for different charging networks and says it can be frustrating to have so many.

What he would like to see is a more universal credit card taking system, but he would also like to see a lot more fast chargers in safe and convenient places to stop – like gas stations, where kids can use the bathroom and they can snack while their car is charging.

His experience is similar to what Constantin heard: chargers from BC Hydro, Flo and Electrify Canada are reliable, while those from PetroCan are not. He says it’s disappointing because PetroCan stations are the best places to stop for everything else.

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“It’s very similar to a lot of places you might see in Norway or Finland, isn’t it? This is the ideal setup. The problem is reliability,” Fung said, adding that often gas station attendants are unwilling to troubleshoot when chargers are not working.

Jason Humeniuk, who drives an Audi e-tron in Surrey, had a similar response to Fung. He said BC Hydro’s chargers are reliable, but there need to be much faster chargers so drivers don’t have to wait an hour or more to charge their vehicle. He said when traveling to Edmonton from the Lower Mainland, EV drivers should allow an hour or more to charge their vehicles.

“It’s even worse once you get north of Calgary,” he said. “It’s almost impossible to find a fast charger.”

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Driving inland is a good experience now with more chargers in Hope and Merritt, Humeniuk said, but it doesn’t compare to the electric vehicle network on the Interstate 5 highway in the United States, which he described. as “fantastic”.

“They have so many charging stations, so if you go down to California, or anywhere on I-5, there’s no problem and you can hit a lot of them,” said Humeniuk.

He also said that there seems to be a problem with PetroCan’s card reading system in British Columbia, so you have to rely on the app, and if there was a cell failure, there could be have a problem.

Over the past year, BC Hydro said most fast-charging stations were operational about 98% of the time.

“In most situations, when a charger fails, it’s because of cable replacements due to damage from the public,” Heer said.

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“There have been rare situations involving cellular communications issues, power module replacements, or circuit breaker trips. During the fall and winter, we experienced downtime on some sites due to weather-related power outages.”

To address this issue, BC Hydro, which currently has 114 chargers at 78 sites, is adding more chargers to single-charger sites. The plan is to add 324 units at 145 sites over a five-year period.

From June 2021 to June this year, BC Hydro received an average of 750 support calls per month for EV stations, with the most common issues being drivers needing help activating stations and troubleshooting.

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