Why Are Electric Car Charger Names So Confusing?

Overcoming range anxiety is one step to getting comfortable with electric vehicles. But it’s not the only problem people face when deciding whether to go with an EV. Another issue is the complicated process of charging your car on the road. 

Not all electric car owners understand which charger they need to use. Electrify America came up with a way company officials feel will help make that part easier for drivers. Will it be successful? Let’s examine what the company has implemented. 

The new names for Electrify America’s EV chargers

An EV charging station where electric car charger where names are confusing.
EV charging station | Getty Images

Electrify America (EA) has 800 charging stations across retail parking lots, like Walmart and other commercial locations. The company also has over 3,500 individual charging units installed. Some of them sport the popular DC chargers, the fastest available, but not all-electric vehicles can use the quickest chargers. Each car is rated for the maximum amount of kWh it can handle. Some, like the Mercedes EQS, can only take a 200 kW charge, while the Porsche Taycan can handle 350 kW.

In an attempt to simplify charging for EV owners, Electrify America came up with new names for the company’s chargers. For the 150 kW units, the name will change to Ultra-fast. It will have a sign that’s teal-colored with two lightning bolt graphics. 

For the 350 kW units, you’ll see a green-colored sign with the name Hyper-fast and three lightning bolts. These signs are meant to grab the attention of EV owners looking for the charger they need for the vehicle they’re driving. 

Will this really help consumers use EV chargers efficiently?

As explained by CNET, this will likely confuse EV owners, especially new ones, which could result in them using the wrong charging unit for their vehicle. The idea of coming up with new names for the chargers came after the company performed extensive user research to determine what EV owners needed at charging stations. Based on that data, EA came up with more user-friendly titles for the chargers believing this would help make charging more efficient by eliminating the guessing which charger I need game. 

Electrify America plans to print the charging speed on the labels still, but it will not be as prominent as the new name and graphics. Those looking for a specific charger will either be used to the new signs or have to look at each label more closely to find the one their EV can handle. 

The company also plans to implement what it’s calling Balanced EV chargers, which can handle both 150 and 350 kWh charging speeds. This way, if two electric vehicles are charging simultaneously using the same unit, the one needing less power will get a maximum charge while the rest is diverted to the other vehicle. 

How well do EV owners know their vehicles?

While EVs are becoming more popular on the road, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the consumers buying them know exactly what speed their vehicle can charge at.

We suspect many expect to pull up to a charger, plug it in, pay and go. It should actually be that simple. They should also know the difference between Level 2 and DC fast charging so they know how long they can expect charging to take. 

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However, it’s not. EV owners need to know what speed their vehicle can handle and be able to find that charger when they’re running low on battery power. If you charge at a faster rate too many times, your battery will begin to degrade, and your driving range will be affected. 

While making an EV owner’s charging experience more user-friendly is a good thing, changing the names to Ultra and Hyper-fast might confuse the driver, enabling them to choose the wrong charging speed.