I knew next to nothing about EV charging setups, but I’d noticed that two charging stands had recently been installed just a block from where I live, so I headed there first. As I pulled up, I noticed an issue right away. First, while there were four charging cables — two per charge stand — there were two Teslas already occupying the two main parking spots, leaving me to choose between parking in a handicap spot or parking illegally in an unmarked spot if I wanted to charge. I chose the unmarked “spot” and attempted to plug in.
It took about two minutes to download the ChargePoint app and create an account. But when I tapped my phone to the charge stand to start a session, nothing happened. I called the customer service number, and the rep on the other end couldn’t even see the machines in the system as they appeared to be both powered down and completely offline. So in addition to not having anywhere to legally park to use the machines, they weren’t even turned on. The customer service rep was helpful, though, and directed me to another ChargePoint charging station a little under a mile away.
I located this other charging station on the map within the ChargePoint app, which said it was unoccupied and available to use. I found it located near the valet stand outside of the Cheesecake Factory at the mall downtown. I parked next to it, walked up and tapped my phone to the screen to start a session. It looked like it was about to unlock, but instead I got an error message telling me I wasn’t permitted to use this station. After yet another call with the ChargePoint customer service team, a representative determined that the property managers at the mall had somehow locked this charge station and that only individuals with special permission were allowed to use it. Nowhere in the app was this made clear.
So here I was, 0 for 2 in my attempts to charge the Outlander.
Luckily, I was in a densely populated urban area and, according to the ChargePoint app, there was yet another charging station in the grocery store parking garage across the street. I headed over that way and up into the second level of the garage, where I eventually found the charger near the back wall. There turned out to be two chargers at this location, both from a company called EVgo (the ChargePoint app shows chargers of all different brands). I downloaded the EVgo app and signed up, just like I had with the ChargePoint app.
Conveniently, one of the EVgo chargers was a 480 volt DC Fast Charger, which is compatible with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (the others to this point had all been 240 volt Level 2 chargers).
Unfortunately, though, while there were two Fast Charger plugs coming from the one machine, one was already being used by a Chevrolet Bolt, and after plugging the other into the Outlander, I learned that the machine could only charge one vehicle at a time… despite having two plugs. I imagine that if two vehicles were plugged in, charging would switch from one to the other once one vehicle was fully charged, but either way, I found this frustrating.
Ready to give up and nearing the end of the window of time I’d allotted for this endeavor, I moved over to the basic 240-volt charger mounted to the wall one spot over.
After messing with the EVgo app for about five minutes and waiting for my credit card to go through, I finally got the 240-volt charger to actually start charging the Outlander. Mission accomplished, I guess, even though I didn’t have time to let the Outlander charge enough to gain any kind of meaningful range.
On my way home, I did stop by the first pair of stations closest to my house to find that they were back online, and I plugged in and got the Outlander to charge there for a few minutes. I really didn’t care much about gaining actual range — rather, I wanted to see how simple this whole process was. While I walked away a little frustrated at the end of the day, I still think EVs are great, and this wouldn’t stop me from buying one. Really, it just speaks to the inconsistency of all of these different charging stations and to the learning curve associated with adopting any new technology. If I were to do this again, I’d be able to do it more efficiently knowing what I know now. And now that I have the apps all downloaded and my accounts created, I imagine it would go pretty smoothly. Still, it seems like public charging stations are somewhat unreliable, there as an added convenience (and to make local governments and real estate developers seem hip and green) but not able to be relied upon as a primary source of range. But here’s the thing: Most EV buyers just have charging infrastructure installed at their home, rendering all of this running around to charge a moot point, as they just plug in every night and wake up with a fully-charged vehicle the next morning.
So don’t let my experiences here discourage you from buying an EV. Just make sure you have the means to charge it yourself without relying on public charging stations. Find a Mitsubishi Outlander for sale