What’s the connecting link between broken ice cream machines at the McFactory and electric car charging stations? Error codes. If only there were a way for an average technician to understand what those codes are, it would be a heck lotta easier to repair busted car juicers.

That’s exactly what the government-backed ChargeX Consortium wants to do. A collective of EV brands, consumer bodies, and the U.S. Department of Energy, the body wants to make sure that all EV charging stations follow the same kind of error language to quickly identify and fix issues.

The McCholestrol lesson for lithium eaters

But how did the good ol’ grease-loving fast food franchise come into the picture? Ah, McDonald's ice cream machines, the legends of corporate malfunction. At any given moment, one in 10 machines at the Golden Arches is having a meltdown. When they break, which is often, you'd call a technician, but good luck with that.

These machines are more cryptic than an ancient puzzle, with error codes only the maker, Taylor, can crack. So, McDonald’s has no choice but to keep paying Taylor, who probably makes a fortune off these breakdowns.

Then there's Kytch, who invented a Raspberry Pi device to translate these mysterious codes and fix the repair hell. But just like an orgasm, it didn't last long. It was a hit, until McDonald's basically said "nope" and Taylor slapped them with a lawsuit. Their reason? Apparently, Kytch’s gadget was a safety hazard. Sure, Taylor!

Even the baldy diabetic guys at the FTC popped in, asking why McDonald's machines are always on a break. iFixit's also in the mix, trying to change copyright laws to fix these metal beasts. But let's be real, it's like trying to teach a dinosaur to dance.

The solution for EV charger hell?

A reporter from The Wall Street Journal went out in a  Rivian R1T electric truck around the Los Angeles country area and here’s what she said:

Out of the 126 stalls I inspected, 27% of them were out of order, and that meant they had a sign or a dead screen or an error that read, "Charger unavailable." Or, "Out of service."

ChargeX has a solution for it.

Brace yourselves, the National Charging Experience Consortium (ChargeX) just dropped a thrilling report. They're introducing not one, not five, but 26 electric vehicle (EV) charging error codes. They claim this will speed up error reporting, diagnostics, and resolution in the EV charging industry, making our charging experience in the U.S. oh-so-much better.

Universal error codes baby!
A person angry at a car charging station.
Credit: Dall-E / Athenil Media

This report, charmingly titled 'Recommendations for Minimum Required Error Codes', is here to save us from the Tower of Babel situation we've got going on. Charger manufacturers, EV makers, and charging station operators have been speaking their own secret languages. But fear not, now we'll have a universal code for “Oops, it broke again!”

Get ready for a streamlined world where, when your EV charger throws a tantrum, everyone will nod wisely at the same error code. It’s going to transform EV charging network operations, make training a breeze, and give drivers a smoother charging experience. Because obviously, the key to happiness was just a few more error codes away.

Current failure, voltage issues, signal woes, power loss, and more. ChargeX has broadly targeted 26 common failure scenarios. There's going to be an error code for all the problems, and these numbers would be the same, irrespective of which brand's charging hub you're currently stuck at.

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