Electrify America’s new mobile app is now available for download and it shows new pricing policies for subscribers which could reduce DC charging costs by half or more for some drivers at the company’s 200 open locations nationwide.
The company’s DC charging sites used to be typically billed at a rate of 30 to 35 cents per minute plus a $1 session fee. When the new app was first disclosed last month the company said prices for non-subscribers would be falling about 20 percent and would be even lower for members of a $4 per month “Pass+” account. However, they didn’t disclose exact pricing at the time but did say it would be a tier-based rate based on how fast the car is generally capable of charging.
With today’s release of the app, we are now learning the actual pricing which is going to be set on a state-by-state basis. In California, pricing had been $.35 per minute. Now, without a Pass+ subscription cars that have a maximum charging rate of less than 75 kW (most existing non-Tesla cars on the road today) will pay $.25 per minute. With a Pass+ membership the price drops to 18 cents per minute.
To put that in real-world terms, a Chevrolet Bolt EV owner who starts a charge when the battery is at 15 to 20 percent full and charges for 30 to 40 minutes used to pay roughly $.48 per kWh. For example, a 40 minute charging session might have cost $14 plus a $1 session fee for about 32 kWh of energy added. Without a monthly fee-based subscription that would now cost 40 minutes at $.25 or $10 plus a $1 session fee and would work out to $.34 per kWh. With the monthly fee-based plan it would work out to 40 minutes at $.18 or $7.20 with no session fee and would work out to $.23 per kWh.
Once a user has created an account with the app, initiating a charging session is easy. First, open the iOS wallet app and select the Electrify America NFC (Near-field Communications) card placed there by the app when you create your account. Next, plug the charging cable into your car. Then, place your phone near the NFC card reader logo. That’s it. As an alternative, the payment can also be initiated from the app using the mobile device’s Internet connection without using NFC. Finally, the physical credit card reader on the charging dispenser can still be used but won’t get you discounted member prices.
By comparison, EVgo also has subscription and non-subscription plans. The “Pay As You Go” plan in California costs $.30 per minute and limits charging time to 45 minutes per session. The membership plan costs $.26 per minute and also limits charging time to 45 minutes during peak daytime hours but increases the session time to 60 minutes between 8pm and 6am in the morning. The membership fee is $7.99 per month. Those prices would seem to come in above Electrify America’s new prices.
Tesla no longer has “free” DC Supercharging for most of its new car buyers. In California (and the US generally) it now charges $.28 per kWh. In states that do not allow electricity to be sold by non-utilities using a per-kWh price, Tesla charges $.26 per minute at power rates above 60 kW and $.13 at power rates below that. There is no per-session or subscription fee.
Electrify America’s new tiered plans query the vehicle for its maximum charging power rate when the car is first connected and use that to choose the per-minute pricing tier that will be used during the full duration of charging. So, a Jaguar I-PACE that can charge faster than 75 kW but has a peak rate under 125 kW will now pay $.69 per minute or with a Pass+ subscription it will be $.50 per minute. An Audi e-tron, that can charge faster than 126 kW, will now pay $.99 per minute without a subscription or $.70 per minute with a Pass+ plan in California. The new Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro EV both have a peak DC charging rate of about 75 kW and it’s not clear yet what pricing tier they will fall into.
In all cases, Electrify America charges a $.40 per minute “idle fee” (after a 10 minute grace period) for cars that have completed charging but have not yet been unplugged but it does not have the kind of session time limits imposed by EVgo. EVgo does not have an idle fee. Tesla charges an idle fee of $.50 per minute in the US although that increases to $1 per minute if all of the charging dispensers at the location are occupied. Tesla’s idle fee begins immediately but is waived if the car is unplugged within the first 5 minutes after charging completes.
Understanding how much it will cost to charge in advance is easy with a per-kWh fee but gets complicated when time-based fees apply. This is especially true when tiered rates are introduced although it should become quickly apparent which Electrify America pricing tier applies to your own vehicle model.
Electrify America has said it plans to open close to 500 DC charging locations across 42 states in the US by the end of 2019.
As of now, the Apple iOS version of the app is now available for download from the App Store under the name “Electrify America”. The Google Android version of the app can be hard to find on Google’s Play Store but can be found here. At least in the iOS version, there is a glitch that causes the Pass+ subscription plan to appear as if the monthly fee is currently $0 although it is actually $4. A restart of the app is said to fix the problem.