Australia’s public DC fast charging network for electric cars and other electric vehicles is expanding and experiencing growing pains.
EV charge hell – not only does NSW lack charge sites, but many are broken. Today between Sydney & the QLD border nearly half the fast chargers are broken. @EvieNetworks @Chargefox thankyou for investing but this is a #EVchargefail (like that shown by @PhilWilliamsABC) pic.twitter.com/vI9a46atZe
— Darren Wickham (@darrenwickham99) January 3, 2023
Charger Anxiety – will you get there and find out it’s broken?
Many electric car drivers feel like it’s common to reach a DC fast charging site and find some of the chargers are broken down eg: these screenshots below which I took a few minutes ago.
Who is Tritium?
Tritium is a company originally founded in Australia that now manufactures DC fast chargers installed across the world for refueling electric vehicles.
The brand will be familiar to Australian electric car owners because so far most of the public DC fast chargers installed in our country have been made by Tritium eg my photos below of Evie Taylors Lakes and Chargefox Barnawartha North.
Why do Tritium Chargers seem like they’re often out of order? It’s complicated
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph recently an NRMA spokesperson said they were replacing whole Tritium charging stations rather than waiting for replacement parts:
“There have been delays with parts due to global supply issues. The company has not been able to get them … we’re actually replacing them rather than waiting for them to be fixed”.
The chief executive of Tritium, Jane Hunter responded saying
“There’s no doubt that we would have had shortages on semiconductors during the thick of Covid. I would say that those are now getting better and better”.
“We’re more desperate than anybody for it to become a phenomenal user experience because it’s our hardware that wears the negative connotations and we want it to be super successful”.
Hunter said Tritium products were reliable and the real problem was that electric charging networks aren’t signing up for Tritium service agreements to ensure repairs are done quickly and downtime was much shorter.
It is not surprising that Australia’s two biggest open DC electric fast charging networks use Tritium.
Evie Networks gained most (all?) of it’s funding from Australian energy baron Trevor St Baker, who also invested early in Tritium and still holds a substantial stake in it. If I owned a stake in two companies which operate in the same industry I’d encourage them to work together.
Chargefox was founded by Tim Washington who also founded Jet Charge, Australia’s biggest installer of charging stations. Australia’s EV industry is pretty small so it’s not surprising that Jet Charge has mostly installed Tritium DC chargers to date.
What’s the solution to get more reliable DC electric car fast chargers?
There are lots of ways to make Australia’s DC electric fast charger network more reliable:
- Charging networks and Governments – need to have a minimum of two charging stations at any location outside big cities. It would be better redundancy to have two 75kW than one 150kw station or instead of one 350kW have two 150Kw stations. Currently there are quite a few single charging station locations and if they’re broken drivers often have to travel 50-100km to the next location.
- Charging networks – need to sign up for SLA’s with their charging station manufacturer/installer so that repairs are done quickly or penalties will need to be paid
- Governments – should make sure their grants for new charger locations require a specific minimum up time eg: 95% or penalties will need to be paid
- Governments – should require any large rollout of charging stations that they part fund should have a mixture of 2 different charger manufacturers used from the options of Tritium, ABB, Kempower etc
- Governments – need to make most of the charging plugs CCS 2, rather than the current situation where many charger locations have 50% CHAdeMO and 50% CCS 2. This would reflect the reality that 90%+ of Australia’s electric cars have CCS 2 ports and only a minority of Nissan and Mitsubishi drivers use CHAdeMO .
Australians will find out soon whether ABB and Kempower are more reliable than Tritium
I noticed during my recent first visit of an Ampol AMPCharge charger at Alexandria, Sydney that they have chosen ABB as their charging station provider.
The RAA recently chose Kempower as the provider of their new 50 DC rapid charging sites to be installed across South Australia.
Further to the west, WA power distributors Horizon Power and Synergy recently announced that their hardware contract has been awarded to JET Charge who will be providing Kempower, Tritium and ChargeMate chargers for installation across the state. The software and charger management will be done by Chargefox.
Over time we will see if these other brands are more reliable than the other locations using Tritium chargers.
8 thoughts on “It’s not all Tritium’s fault – How Aussie electric car DC fast charging network can be more resilient”
sorry- you are incorrect- it IS Tritium’s fault as quoted in your article –
“Tritium has had reliability problems with its stations and many Tritium charging stations have been off-line for months because they cannot be fixed. Tritium have said that the problem is sourcing spare parts, but the fact is spare parts would not be needed if the parts did not fail in the first place. In some cases, parts have been replaced and the station failed again shortly afterwards.”
If they were a decent design they would not be breaking down. They deserve all the bad press they get
Please read the whole article. The cause of the problem is multiple organisations.
Government grants for chargers didn’t initially specify any required uptime eg 95%. Thankfully they are starting to do that for future charger rollouts, at least in NSW.
The big charging networks don’t seem to have paid for fast fix service level agreements. Hopefully they change this
And yes on top of that Tritium have had reliability issues and parts shortages
Exactly. Went from Newcastle to Coffs this last weekend. 3 of 7 tritium chargers on the way were broken across different networks. That’s a product issue, not a network issue. Meanwhile 100% of Tesla chargers were working. Step up your game tritium.
Nice article – check out Plugshare for the first Kempower public charging site in Tasmania – glowing reviews.
I have been servicing electrical/electronic equipment in a marine and medical industries. Seen a great deal of equipment in hard and demanding environments operate for years without failure. Charger manufacturers wouldn’t have a spare parts supply problem if designs were more robust. No technical reason that chargers can’t be more reliable.
You give Tritium too much credit. I’ve been watching this because I am potentially in the market for an EV in the near future, and 2EV chargers have been installed in my town in the last 2 months (1 Evie and 1 Chargefox) s well as another 3 Chargefox chargers in nearby towns roughly at the same time (all 50kW units), so here is me watching to see how long it will be until failure.
The Evie charger here has been working fine since installation. Not so Chargefox.
After initially working, they went offline for some time due to communications issues.
After a few weeks they were online again, then off, then at least one of them needed spare parts (1 is only running at half the charge rate).
Looking at the comments on Plugshare I see it they have probably been offline more than online in the first 2 months of operation.
This may be due to installation issues (perhaps the installers don’t quite know what they’re doing yet), but to have parts fail and need replacement within 2 months shows me that these units are junk.
You talk about having service level agreements and carrying spare parts. When you buy and install something brand new, exactly how many times do you expect to be needing to have technicians going out to fix things or to replace parts within the first 2 months (especially when it doesn’t have moving parts except for a fan)? And how frequently after that?
So, you’re expected to pay more every month and pay for carrying spares because you expect frequent failures? No, that shows that it’s junk.
Pay more upfront for a better quality unit from another manufacturer and expect it to work years before failure.
Some Australian companies make quality products, but we shouldn’t blindly support Australian industry just because we’re in Australia. How long do people put up with this?
Why do the Tesla units seem to work without issue? How about Kempower? If your want to play with the big boys, you need to sort out your stuff.
I’m afraid governments (as these are mostly subsidised by state or local government) are going for cheaper units to save money, and have people making decisions who knew nothing of this industry, and who have been convinced to go for these cheaper units, or to buy Australian.
Time for someone to think, use their brain, and look at longevity. I’m familiar, in a different industry, with government procurement habits.
You get the cheapest, then regret it later, but never admit you made a bad choice in the first place, and make edgier convincing people you made a good choice.
No, it’s time to stop.
If you want mass zEv uptake, how about convincing people they’ll actually be able to recharge their car when they go out of town. So far, it’s not looking good.
Thanks for the detailed comment Leo
Anecdotally speaking with EV owners around the country their comments tend to agree with yours, any given Evie charger is more likely to be working than a nearby Chargefox one
An important factor could be that Evie owns and operates all their chargers as well as publicly stating they keep plenty of spare parts and repair crews on call during peak holidays.
In comparison Chargefox only owns some of the chargers in their network, many are owned by other organisations like councils or small business who may not have budgeted for repairs, spare parts & maintenance etc after doing the initial install.
Always an excuse for Tritium and their rubbish product.
Their product only ever works for a few weeks before breaking down. There is ALWAYS something wrong with Tritium chargers, the excuse that Chargepox doesn’t own a lot of the hardware is a joke. If a charger has no budget to be maintained then Chargepox needs to end the agreement and take their name off the site.
Chargepox owns the 350kw chargers in Sydney and they are down 80% of the time. Port Macquarie they have even removed one of them leaving a stump with no new replacement.
Simple fact is Chargepox and Tritium are a joke and you can make excuses for them as much as you like but their brands are rubbish and that is what people remember