The Essential Guide to EV Charging Networks in North America

PlugShare has gathered essential information on the top public charging networks across North America, including details about access, coverage, and costs, along with some background information and recommendations to help you decide which networks will best meet your needs.

The number of DC Fast Charging stations are increasing across North America, as charging network companies identify essential locations near highways and retail outlets. (Source: Electrify America)

By Grant Gerke

While there are many options for electric car drivers when it comes to public charging networks, the complexities can be intimidating. However, this guide below delivers high-level information on North American charging networks and offers details on the number of stations, reliability and a general satisfaction level with each — for more information on individual stations, download the PlugShare app and see our PlugScore metric.

As far as trends go with charging networks in 2018 and 2019, there have been big moves by charging networks to partner and offer “roaming” services from one network to another. It’s a trend that’s not going away and should make charging easier for all drivers moving forward.

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  • If you live in the US, ChargePoint has the largest charging network, with expansion into Alaska, Canada and Mexico. They primarily support Level 2 fast charging and our slowly expanding their Level 3, DC Fast Charging options.

  • If you live in Canada, FLO has the largest charging network, with plans for expansion into the US soon. They provide a mix of Level 2 fast charging and Level 3, DC Fast Charging stations depending on location.

  • Outside of first party apps, you can use third party apps like PlugShare to find the stations that best meet your needs, as well as pay for your charging sessions through the app when supported.

  • Once you find a specific charging network that you’ll want to use frequently, it’s best to obtain an RFID card or key fob from them, as paying via your mobile device can be challenging at times in places like a parking lot structure, where there can be poor signal strength.

    iOS | Download the iPhone PlugShare App

    Android | Discover new charging stations on the Android PlugShare App

  • How Much Does EV Charging Cost?

    Cost varies depending on how you choose to pay, as there are three primary payment options: (1) Pay-As-You-Go, (2) Monthly Subscription and (3) Free.

  • Pay-As-You-Go pricing makes the most sense if you’re charging on a network that you don’t frequently use.

  • Signing up for a Monthly Subscription makes the most sense if you find a charging network that you’ll want to use frequently. Often, Monthly Subscriptions offer flat rates or discounts over pay-as-you-go pricing.

  • Using Free chargers makes the most sense when charging is not critical, and you’re not restricted by time. A great example of this might be when you’re charging at work for the day or shopping at the mall for a couple of hours.

    Additional fees to keep in mind are:

  • Connection Fee - which is associated with connecting to the charger and consists of a flat rate or hourly fee depending on the charging network and station location.

  • Idling Fee - which is associated with leaving a car plugged in after the max allotted charging time (some stations limit how long you can charge) or leaving your EV connected to a charger for an extended period of time after it has fully charged the battery and shut off.

    As of September 2019, the majority of public charging is still available for free (although additional fees may apply). There are nearly 61,948 free, public locations worldwide to charge an EV, while paid public locations stand at 57,464.

  • British Columbia (BC) Hydro EV

    BC Hydro EV network connects EV drivers across British Columbia, Canada, helping drivers get where they need to go.

    Number of Sites: Over 60 AC and DC charging stations, with plans to exceed 80 stations by the end of 2019, and further expand in 2020.

    Network Coverage: Mainly 50kW DC fast chargers, but you’ll also find some 25kW “mini” fast chargers and Level 2 chargers at some stations. Most stations currently have a single DC fast charger but as usage grows, they’re upgrading stations with a second fast charger. For extended coverage and convenience, FLO, Chargepoint and Greenlots stations can all be accessed and activated using their app.

    Access: Sign up to create an account and receive a BC Hydro EV RFID card. After submitting your credit card information as part of the sign-up, you will be able to add funds to your account to pay for charging at stations that require a fee (most stations on the network are free). Your account provides access to all public stations BC Hydro, as well as FLO, ChargePoint and Greenlots throughout Canada and the United States. Charging stations are activated with the BC Hydro EV card or by the smartphone App — find the charging station on the map and hit activate. Account balances can be replenished as the balance gets low.

    Charging Costs: Up to $2 per hour, with most stations offering free charging.

    Web: https://ev.bchydro.com

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (866) 338-3369

    ChargePoint

    ChargePoint provides the largest online network of independently owned EV charging stations operating in 14 countries.

    Number of Sites: Over 49,000 AC and DC charging stations

    Network Coverage: Extensive Level 2 and Level 3 (DC Fast Charging) coverage across the world, with emphasis on building out more DC Fast Charging over the last two years. Additionally, the recent announcement of a partnership deal with FLO’s charging network allows for “roaming” between the two networks.

    Access: Sign up to create an account and receive a ChargePoint RFID card. After submitting your credit card information as part of the sign-up, you will be charged an initial deposit of $25 only when you first visit a charging station that requires a fee. (Many stations on the network are free.) Your account provides access to all public stations on ChargePoint. Charging stations are activated with the ChargePoint card or by the smartphone App — find the charging station on the map and hit activate. And the stations can also be activated by calling a toll-free customer service number on the ChargePoint station. Account balances automatically replenish when the balance gets low.

    Charging Costs: Pricing is set by the property owner for each charger, with many stations offering free charging.

    Web: https://www.chargepoint.com

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (888) 758-4389

    Looking for chargers in your hometown? Download the iPhone PlugShare App

    The Electric Circuit

    The Electric Circuit is the largest public charging network in Québec and Eastern Ontario.

    Approximate Number of Sites: Approximately 1,985 charging stations, with a mix of Level 2 and 197 Level 3 DC fast charging stations.

    Network Coverage: Stations are located near 90 municipalities throughout 15 regions of Québec's province and eastern Ontario. For expanded coverage and convenience, The Electric Circuit RFID card will also work with FLO charging stations and the eCharge Network in New Brunswick.

    Access: There is no cost to sign up and receive The Electric Circuit RFID card. When you first order your card, you will be charged $10 (tax included), which will give you four charging sessions at any 240-V station or a 1-hour charge session at any fast charge station. You will then be able to add money to your account as you wish.

    Charging Costs: The rate for a 240V charge is a flat fee of $2.50 (tax included), no matter how long you use the charging station, or an hourly rate of $1, billed by the minute and based on the amount of time the vehicle is plugged in. DC Fast Charging is offered at $11.50 per hour (taxes included) and billed by the minute.

    As always, download the PlugShare iOS or Android app to find user comments about pricing.

    Web: https://lecircuitelectrique.com

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (855) 999-8378

    Electrify America/Electrify Canada

    Created from the Volkswagen 2016 diesel emissions scandal, this nationwide charging network is the new kid on the block and has the mission to spend $2 billion on electric car charging infrastructure in the U.S., with some charging infrastructure initiatives throughout Canada as well. The initial buildout, in partnership with states in the U.S., includes DC fast charging and some Level 2 stations with a mix of CCS (75%) and CCS-CHAdeMO.

    Approximate Number of Sites: 294 and growing

    Coverage: The contiguous 48, with most of the locations focused on interstate and long-distance travel, while some metro areas will have an increased concentration of these charging stations. The second stage of their program, currently underway, will also include Canada, Alaska and Hawaii.

    Access: In order to charge at these stations, the network provides a subscription program and a pay-as-you go option using a credit card (no App download required). There is the Electrify America Pass and Electrify America Pass+ subscriptions, for which downloading the app is required.

    Charging Costs: The network charges by the minute versus energy supplied, called power level pricing. The regular pass charges are a standard per-minute cost (dependent on your location & power level) and a $1 session fee, while the Pass+ offers reduced per-minute cost with a $4 monthly fee. Also, there is $0.40 idle fee after a grace period of ten minutes.

    Web: https://www.electrifyamerica.com | https://www.electrify-canada.ca

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (833) 632-2778

    Discover new charging stations on the Android PlugShare App

    EV Connect

    As with other public charging network companies, EV Connect offers commercial, retail and residential infrastructure solutions, along with open protocol software for EVSEs. The charging network delivers a mix of Level 2 and 3 stations across the U.S. and Canada, while also partnering with Evie Networks in Australia.

    Approximate Number of Sites: 350

    Coverage: A large concentration of charging stations exist on the east and west coast of the U.S., with concentrations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City.

    Access: The network offers a free smartphone charging app to activate charging sessions and no membership is needed.

    Charging Costs: Pricing is set by the property owner for each charger, with many stations offering free charging.

    Web: https://www.evconnect.com

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (888) 780-0062

    EVgo

    An established charging network, EVgo is building partnerships with retail hosts, hotels, shopping centers, gas station parking lot operators and more to make charging convenient. Roaming agreements with Electrify America, a new network created due to the Volkswagen diesel scandal.

    Approximate Number of Sites: Offering more than 1,200 DC Fast Chargers across 750 locations in 34 states, the company is also adding Level 2 station access via its partnership agreements with ChargePoint, Electrify America and EV Connect.

    Coverage: A strong presence in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth markets, as well as Tennessee, California and the greater Washington, DC area. Network coverage is also solid in the Chicago metropolitan area and along the East Coast. Additionally, they have roaming agreements with ChargePoint, Electrify America and EV Connect.

    Access: EVgo offers a pay-as-you-go option and monthly subscription options.

    Charging Costs: The membership option is $7.99/ month and members are guaranteed per-minute rates that are at least 10% lower than the standard pay-as-you-go rates.

    Web: https://www.evgo.com

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (877) 494-3833

    FLO

    The company operates charging networks in the U.S. and Canada and have recently expanded coverage via a partnership roaming agreement with ChargePoint, where members of both networks can access public chargers while travelling in the U.S. and Canada.

    Approximate Number of Sites: Offering approximately 5,500 public stations, with over 225 DC Fast Chargers in the U.S and Canada.

    Coverage: After an agreement with ChargePoint, the company now touches most regions in the U.S and has extensive coverage in Canada with concentrations in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia provinces.

    Access: There is no cost to access the FLO network or any other membership fees attached in receiving their RFID card or downloading its app. The smartphone app can activate a charging session, along with an RFID card.

    Charging Costs: Every charging station has a service fee that varies by location. Level 2 charging stations cost $1 per hour and are billed by the minute. DC Fast Charging stations cost $10 per hour and are billed by the minute.

    Web: https://www.flo.com

    Customer Support: On-the-road drivers, 24/7 at (888) 356-8911. For less urgent requests, Mon-Sun, 7 am to 9 pm EST at (855) 543-8356

    Greenlots

    The company was recently acquired by Shell and is still providing a range of e-mobility solutions, with a variety of Level 2 and 3 charging stations installed throughout the U.S. and Canada. Recently, the company is also focusing on DC Fast Charging installations at Shell fueling stations.

    Approximate Number of Sites: 450

    Coverage: Extensive coverage throughout the U.S. as well as coverage in Canada throughout British Columbia, and parts of Alberta and Ontario.

    Access: Users have many access options, including using their mobile app, RFID card and pay-per-use via remote customer care activation or using the credit card reader where available. Additionally, Greenlots doesn’t charge any membership fees.

    Charging Costs: Pricing is set by the property owner for each charger.

    Web: https://www.greenlots.com

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (855) 900-7584

    Petro-Canada

    This Canadian petrol station chain, which is part of Suncor, is building a robust nationwide network of DC Fast Charging stations at its fueling locations with two universal standard connectors, CHadEMO and CCS.

    Approximate Number of Sites: 50 DC Fast Charging stations as of Oct 2019.

    Coverage: The network is being built across all Canadian provinces near the Trans Canadian Highway. This network buildout is a public/private project with additional funding announced in 2019, visit PlugShare to keep track on the status.

    Access: At this point, there are no membership requirements at these locations.

    Charging Costs: Petro-Canada charging is gratis at launch but will introduce a time-based pricing structure in the fall of 2019.

    Website: https://www.petro-canada.ca/en/personal/fuel/ev-fast-charge-network

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (800) 668-0220

    SemaConnect

    SemaConnect offers Level 2 charging stations throughout the US, with its highest concentration on the East Coast.

    Approximate Number of Sites: 1,166

    Coverage: Stations are located in approximately 20 states, with the greatest concentration in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC, Georgia, Colorado, California and the Pacific Northwest. It also has a presence in Puerto Rico.

    Access: Visit SemaConnect.com and open a new account to receive an RFID card, which is used to initiate charging at any SemaConnect location. A SemaConnect account is free to have, however, if you choose to associate a payment with your account, your credit or debit card will be charged an initial $10.00.

    Charging Costs: Pricing is set by the property owner for each charger.

    Web: https://www.semaconnect.com

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (800) 663-5633

    Sun Country Highway

    This Canadian-based company describes itself as a full-service provider of not only non-networked public charging stations, but also EVSE equipment to both residential and commercial markets. The network consists of Level 2 charging stations with J1772 connectors.

    Approximate Number of Sites: 750

    Coverage: The charging area involves all the Canadian provinces, including a small number of locations in the U.S. Charging stations are situated near retail, hotels and highway locations.

    Access: No membership is required to use the charging stations.

    Charging Costs: Pricing is set by the property owner for each charger.

    Web: https://www.suncountryhighway.ca

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (866) 467-6920

    Tesla Superchargers and Destination Chargers

    Tesla Motors offers its own proprietary charging network to serve owners of its Model S, X and 3 vehicles. Tesla Superchargers are standalone sites, while the company has also established “Destination” charging sites that are managed in partnerships with hospitality, retail, workplace, and multifamily entities. Tesla Supercharger stations charge at up to 250 kW of power, which can add up to 120 miles of range to a Tesla vehicle in 30 minutes or less.

    Approximate Number of Stations: 1,628 Superchargers and over 3,000 Destination chargers globally.

    Tesla Superchargers

    Tesla Destination

    Coverage: Supercharger stations are situated throughout North America, with excellent coverage in the US, Canada and Mexico.

    Access: Tesla Superchargers do not require a card to initiate, and setup is done by linking credit card to your Tesla account. From there, owners simply drive up to a Tesla Supercharger and plugin.

    Charging Costs: $0.28 KWh (kilowatt-hour) and by the minute ($0.26 per minute above 60 kW and $0.13 per min. at or below 60 kW). Occasional Supercharging incentives are offered to new owners via the company or through referrals.

    Website: https://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (877) 798-3752

    Volta Charging

    Volta Charging is a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations that partners with brands to sponsor free charging for all EV drivers. The highly-visible, Level 2 charging stations are known for their large-display advertising and free charging at most sites.

    Approximate Number of Stations: 700

    Coverage: The charging network can be found in Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Phoenix. The stations are usually found in retail applications, including Macy’s, Saks and Whole Foods parking lots, where the company provides a turnkey solution and pays for the electricity usage.

    Access: There is no membership fees and you don’t need an RFID card to access stations.

    Charging Costs: No cost to charge, however local parking rules apply.

    Web: https://www.voltacharging.com

    Customer Support: Local customer service numbers are displayed at all stations.

    Webasto (formerly AV - AeroVironment)

    Webasto operates its own network of Level 2 & 3 chargers throughout the US and Canada.

    Approximate Number of Stations: 164

    Coverage: An expansive presence across North America, with a large concentration of DC Fast Chargers in Oregon and Washington state, while Level 2 stations are abundant throughout the US and Canada. They also have a handful of charging locations in Hawaii.

    Access: Unlimited monthly access for $19.99 per month. The company will send you a key fob that activates the chargers after registration is completed online or via phone. For new subscribers, there’s a one-time activation fee of $15.

    Charging Costs: As an alternative to a monthly subscription, they also offer a per session pricing: $7.50 per session for DC Fast Charging and $4.00 per session for Level 2 charging. Per session payment is only available by calling Customer Service at (888) 833-2148.

    Web: https://www.evsolutions.com/ev-network

    Customer Support: 24/7 at (888) 332-2148

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