Nissan Leaf owner Remy Tennant knows what it's like to be stranded at a Blink quick charger station. It happened to him last April in Belmont, CA, and he resolved to never let it happen again. Resolutions can be so hard to keep.
As Remy recently wrote over on Plug In Cars, one recent January morning while commuting to work with friend Jared, Remy wanted to make a good impression for Jared's first ride in an electric vehicle. Remy knew his Leaf would be making a 90-mile round trip – it's 45 miles from Berkeley to Sunnyvale. While many peers in Silicon Valley have employer-provided charging stations, Remy doesn't, so he's become an expert on DC fast chargers in the area.
Remy intricately planned a fail-safe journey – carefully checking an online map and finding Blink quick charge locations in Redwood City with Evernote and Silver Springs stations close together – then confirming them on phone with Blink. If one were to fail, he thought, another would surely be working.
If one were to fail, he thought, another would surely be working.
For the first half of the 90-mile journey, Remy was careful to drive as efficient as possible and not use up too much energy. He left the heat off and only used the heated seats to stay warm. During lunchtime, he called Blink again to confirm: yes, he was told, both of the Redwood City stations were online.
They left work at 7 pm, adding 15 miles to the trip to access the fast chargers in Redwood City, going 55 miles per hour to feel a bit safer. Remy was confident there would be miles to spare, but it got nerve wracking for Jared as they made it to the Silver Springs parking lot and there was only seven miles of estimated range left.
The quick charger was nowhere to be found. Remy called Blink and the technician had to dig into his notes. The charger was behind a locked gate, only open to the public during business hours, the technician revealed with apology.
They were relieved that there was a backup quick charger at Evernote. The Blink technician guaranteed that charging port was up and running: "Absolutely. You will have no problem charging there." The Leaf indicated a low battery charge on the way over. They laughed nervously.
The Leaf indicated a low battery charge on the way over. They laughed nervously.
They arrived at Evernote with an estimated four miles left, and breathed a sigh of relief. At the first of the two quick charge units, the screen was dark. Not a good sign. At the second station, Remy swiped his RFID card and it was read – a good sign. But when he plugged in his Leaf, the screen flashed a message in red: "Unable to Communicate." This can't get any worse – can it? Click here to find out how that trip ended for Remy and Jared.
There is another side to the story, though. According to Joshua Katz, chief marketing officer at Ecotality, Remy is not an active Blink cardholder and wouldn't have access to these stations at any time. Katz told AutoblogGreen that Remy had been sent card registration forms three times previously, but hasn't responded. If Remy had been a member, he would have seen on the Blink map that the first location was closed at that time. Katz said Ecotality appreciated being informed about the first station at Evernote that went dark and needed repair, but the second station would have worked if Remy had an active membership card. As for being directed to the charging stations by the Blink technician, Katz said that Remy could have received a guest card somewhere, such as a hotel, and the technicians are directed to help users as much as possible.