Monitoring, maintenance, mission criticality: How four Canadian EV charging networks work to provide reliable charging
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EV Charging
May 24, 2024
Nicholas Sokic

With charger uptime rates under growing scrutiny from EV drivers and policy makers, Electric Autonomy asked leading networks to detail the steps they take to keep chargers running and get them back online when they fail

A wide range of factors can undermine EV charger reliability. Addressing those is a top priority and a leading challenge for Canada’s major charging networks

With charger uptime rates under growing scrutiny from EV drivers and policy makers, Electric Autonomy asked leading networks to detail the steps they take to keep chargers running and get them back online when they fail

EV charging network uptime and reliability hold special significance for Louise Lévesque.

As senior director of policy at Electric Mobility Canada, she sees improving charger and charging network reliability — thereby maximizing uptime — as one of the keys to advancing the EV transition.

EA Spotlight: Charging Experience
Increasing EV adoption in line with Canada’s 2035 goals will only be possible when EV charging is a seamless, stress-free, reliable experience. This ongoing series examines the issues, obstacles and solutions required and charts our progress towards that goal.

She also knows it’s a complicated issue. As part of her work, Lévesque has a map showing 21 things that can go wrong in any given charging experience. The challenges encompass software, hardware, maintenance routines, site location and more — all the way down to the philosophy of each charging network as they continue to grow across Canada.

Lévesque says charging network reliability remains a critical concern, but there is a positive shift in the industry’s overall response to the problem. In the past, there was a lack of collaboration and “a lot of, ‘Oh, this isn’t my responsibility,’” she says.

But now, more people are talking.

“This industry-wide communication that we’re doing right now is to find a way to ensure that… everybody takes on the responsibility of following up on these challenges,” says Lévesque.

Meeting the network reliability challenge

To get a closer look at what the networks are talking about and what they’re doing inside their own operations to maintain or improve charger uptime and reliability, Electric Autonomy contacted four of Canada’s major charging networks.

Each provided a snapshot of their approach and efforts they are making to improve or sustain their network performance.

Electric Circuit

Hydro-Québec’s public charging network, Electric Circuit, has approximately 896 DC fast charging ports and 4,210 Level 2 charging ports. It is one of Canada’s largest networks.

Electric Circuit operates almost exclusively within Quebec (with a few locations east and west of the provincial boundaries). It has a reputation as one of the most reliable charing networks.

Lévesque highlights it as a “benchmark network.” Louis-Olivier Batty is an Electric Circuit spokesperson. He tells Electric Autonomy the network will usually not have more than one per cent of its stations unavailable.

Much of that reliability management comes down to user feedback via its mobile app, Batty says. He also cites the network’s climate testing, in conditions that include -40 C temperatures, freezing rain, ice and wind, to ensure the robustness of its systems and equipment.

Lévesque says Electric Circuit is known for its proactive communications. As an example, she points to how it communicates regularly with the City of Montreal on how snow removal operations may impact charger access.

Data collection and analysis, right down to the level of individual stations, is also critical, says Batty. Electric Circuit uses that information to monitor performance and also to schedule maintenance. It’s an aspect he says the network anticipates will be even more critical as more EVs get on the road and there’s greater need for chargers in both remote and metropolitan areas. But its not one the network is particularly worried about.

“We don’t see it as a challenge for the next year, even if there will be more need to install the new charging stations,” he says. “I think we just will be working on, ‘How can we improve the way we do our maintenance?’”

Electrify Canada

Volkswagen Group subsidiary Electrify Canada’s network includes 37 charging stations, with approximately 150 chargers, across six provinces. It offers charging speeds up to 350 kilowatts. Beginning operations in 2019, it has been Plug and Charge enabled since 2021.

Rachel Moses is the senior director of sales, business development and marketing for Electrify Canada and Electrify America. She tells Electric Autonomy that the timeline of ensuring charging network reliability begins at its Centre of Excellence. There, Electrify Canada tests network updates, new charging standards, new and existing software and hardware. It also tests the charging capabilities of pre-production and prototype electric vehicles prior to market launch.

“It’s worth emphasizing that as an ecosystem, the industry is definitely on a growth trajectory,” Moses says. “We’re in a nascent position still with modern technology, but we recognize that there are still challenges to address.”

Once its equipment and systems are operational, Electrify Canada also has 24/7 network performance monitoring and customer communications. In 2021, the company launched a roaming EV Test Fleet with inspectors who performed field tests of stations the network. However, it has since transitioned away from approach. In its place, it has since launched a Field Service Technician program allowing for “evaluation as well as corrective actions.”

More recently, the network increased the minimum number of chargers it installs at each station to six instead of four. This offers redundancy in case chargers are down and to reduce queuing at some locations.

Customer communication to support and educate new drivers and those whose vehicles are not Plug and Charge capable is also a priority, Moses says.

“We’re really trying to focus on those new drivers who are having this first-time experience and what that looks like for them so that it can be more seamless.”


California-based ChargePoint is one of North America’s largest networks. In Canada, its footprint (as of March 31) totals approximately 250 DC fast chargers and almost 5,800 Level 2s.

JD Singh, the company’s chief customer experience officer, tells Electric Autonomy that ChargePoint’s approach to charging network reliability rests on four pillars: designing and developing quality hardware and software; ensuring the same quality for first-time installations; detecting and resolving problems when they happen; and training and certification for its technicians.

“Often times we find that when the installations are not done by certified partners, the quality of the installation gets compromised,” he says. “The quality of installation truly determines, in many cases, the likelihood of the station remaining upright and/or delivering a high uptime.”

In 2023, ChargePoint launched its Network Operations Centre. It actively monitors every station on a 24/7 basis to detect downtime and ensure faster incident response.

As well, every new station undergoes 72 hours of rigorous active monitoring against a “pre-checklist” to make sure everything is running smoothly.

“When we started this project three quarters ago, our success rate through that 72-hour period was literally about 70 per cent,” Singh explains. “That number is sitting at 98 per cent right now.”

Regarding repairs, ChargePoint relies on multiple data sources including social media scraping, customer messages on its app and station sensors.

For the future, ChargePoint is looking at AI solutions to streamline its repair process. Singh mentions conversational AI with customers to lighten the load on its service agents. Currently, customers can send text-based messages via the app to report needed repairs. Singh explains the company will soon roll out a system where customers can take pictures of the station and AI will determine the specific issues.

This summer, ChargePoint will launch an end-to-end technician training program on all of its Level 2 and DC fast charging technologies, along with product- and services-based micro credential programs covering “what the solutions are, regulatory needs, what the infrastructure looks like, the protocols that are relevant,” Singh says.

Across its entire network, ChargePoint prioritizes repairs based on the “mission criticality” of those using the stations. Meaning, it’s largely focusing on DC stations for fleet operators or along much-used highway corridors. AC stations are typically tied to specific service contracts.

“Our standard service offer that we sell is tied to a 98 per cent uptime guarantee,” Singh says. “And 98 per cent uptime translates to about a seven-day downtime in a year.”


Yann Benoit is FLO’s senior director of network operations and deployment. He compares the reliability of charging networks to essential services like telecoms, ambulances and air travel.

Overall, FLO’s published uptime rate exceeds 98 per cent. When a charger or station does goes down, Benoit says FLO aims for one of its technicians to fix it. But with more than 9,000 public chargers in its Canadian network, including 637 DC fast chargers (as of March 31), that’s not always possible. In such cases, the network has a list of contractors and a FLO supervisor oversees the repair.

FLO also manufactures some of its own equipment. The vertical integration makes communication between its various moving parts easier. In essence, the data from repairs goes into the FLO app. Their employees then analyze it.

By the same token, Benoit considers an emphasis on training to be best practice for any network.

“The Level 3 DC charging station, it’s a complex machine,” he says. “The last thing you want to do is compare that to a gas pump, right? A gas pump will not have a communication protocol between the hose and the tank.”

“The last thing you want to do is think that anyone with basic electricity knowledge is able to repair a system like that. That is more IT-related.”

There are also difficulties arising from misconceptions that FLO owns all its charging stations in its network. In fact, many are privately owned or owned by utilities. FLO still takes care of the chargers, Benoit explains, but sometimes there are difficulties in getting sites to approve repairs quickly.

While it’s not a ubiquitous view, Benoit sees the biggest challenge for the industry as one where chargers are installed and forgotten about.

“When I say we are network operators, it’s absolutely not ending when the charger is on the ground,” he says. “Of course, it’s going to be monitored and serviced, ideally forever.”

If anything, monitoring will play an even bigger role as FLO deploys more of its new Ultra fast chargers. These units have over 200 sensors installed, aiding in data collection and maintenance, and Plug and Charge capability.

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