DOI: 10.1177/00187208231215242 ISSN: 0018-7208

Reliability of Open Public Electric Vehicle Direct Current Fast Chargers

David Rempel, Carleen Cullen, Mary Matteson Bryan, Gustavo Vianna Cezar
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics


The aim was to systematically evaluate the usability of all public electric vehicles (EV) direct current fast chargers (DCFC) in the San Francisco region.


To achieve a rapid transition to EVs, a highly reliable and easy to use charging infrastructure is critical to building confidence among consumers.


The functionality and usability of all 182 open, public DCFC charging stations with CCS connectors (combined charging system) in the 9 counties of the Bay Area were tested (655 electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) ports). An EVSE was classified as functional if it charged an EV for 2 minutes.


Overall, 73.3% of the 655 EVSEs were functional. The causes of the nonfunctioning EVSEs (23.5%) were blank or unresponsive screens or error messages; payment system failures; charge initiation failures; network failures; or broken connectors. In addition, the cable was too short to reach the EV inlet for 3.2% of the EVSEs. A random sampling of 10% of the EVSEs, approximately 8 days after the first evaluation, found no overall change in functionality.


The level of functionality found with field testing conflicts with the 95–98% uptime reported by the EV service providers (EVSPs) who operate the EV charging stations. There is a need for precise and verifiable definitions of uptime, downtime, and excluded time, as applied to public EV chargers.


The level of failure of the existing public EV DCFC charge infrastructure highlights the importance of improving the system design and maintenance to improve adoption of EVs.

More from our Archive