• Some Electrify America locations in California will limit charge to 85%
  • “High-utilization station” locations were chosen for the pilot test
  • Regular charging and idle fees apply

Electrify America is testing a strategy that may help alleviate wait times at some of its busiest stations by preventing customers from charging all the way to 100%. 

Through a so-called Congestion Reduction Pilot, EA has targeted a series of “high utilization station” locations in Southern California that it’s limiting to a maximum 85% state of charge for DC fast-charging. 

Unlike gasoline vehicles, which fill at about the same rate until the fuel nozzle’s automatic shutoff valve clicks, EVs don’t charge at a uniform rate. Generally speaking, an EV may take the same amount of time—or even more—to top off from 80% to 100% as it does to get to 80%. While the reasons as to why depend on both the EV’s battery pack and the charger, simply put it’s to keep the cells safe and avoid too much heat buildup. 

So for charging-station operators—and EV drivers waiting in line on busy weekends—cutting people off at 85% could save a lot of time. 

The pilot, which began in early July, is solely an Electrify America initiative, the company told Green Car Reports, with the goal simply to reduce congestion. It stated that the locations were chosen for their “high usage, long wait times and the proximity of other stations if customers wanted to charge to 100%.” 

The network explained that it’s helped optimize charger availability with idle fees, hardware updates, and larger-format stations. “Nevertheless, some stations are experiencing long wait times.”

Electrify America chargers

Electrify America chargers

Electrify America was created as part of a Volkswagen diesel settlement, with federal and California regulators, and for the most recent and final cycle of that it faced more scrutiny in California over reliability. Although the company doesn’t connect this pilot to its reliability push, it’s currently gathering feedback on how the limit works at those stations, and evaluating how it affects congestion and queueing. And depending on those takeaways it might roll the pilot out to a greater number of stations. 

As EA states in an information page on the pilot, chargers will simply end the session once the vehicle reaches 85%. The network, which shifted to a station-specific pricing structure in 2023, applies idle fees after a 10-minute grace period, and those will continue to apply as normal, the network noted. 

Even though Tesla laid off nearly its entire Supercharger team, CEO Elon Musk claims that the company plans a $500 million Supercharger expansion this calendar year. Electrify America has also underscored that it’s set to grow by 25% in 2024