Now that EVs and plug-in EVs have gone mainstream, we’ve got to learn to play nice and share parking spots with charging units, whether they are on public streets or in airports, shopping malls, hotels or public garages.
The EV version of spam is parking your gas-powered vehicle at an EV charger spot, or leaving your electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle parked in that space and/or leaving it there after you’ve juiced up.
Even though electric vehicles now have a range of up to 350 miles between charges, and 95% of drivers of plug-ins recharge overnight at home, there are times when public charging is necessary.
That’s when EV etiquette is required.
To prevent EV rage, plug yourself into these rules –
Leave EV Parking Spots for EVs and PHEVs
Drivers of combustion engine vehicles should honor the sign that says “parking for EVs” or similar, just as you would honor spaces reserved for the handicapped, or for the school principal.
Recently, at a transportation museum – of all things – in Roanoke, Virginia, I was standing in the empty parking space photographing the EV charger when a gas-powered SUV honked at me to move away so the driver could get into the space.
When I pointed out the space was marked as reserved for EVs, the driver shrugged his shoulders and proceeded to remove his wife and children from the vehicle, lock the vehicle and walk away.
Don’t’ be a “juice hog”.
Hogging a space to top off your range could be denying the plug to somebody whose range is low enough to cause real anxiety, range or otherwise.
EV etiquette says to charge only when necessary, and leave when you are done so somebody else can have a turn.
Don’t unplug others without permission.
It’s okay to park alongside another EV which is charging, and leave a note for that owner to plug your car in after his/her session is done.
But don’t unplug the other guy, even if you notice the other vehicle has completed the charging cycle, unless you see a similar note.
Plug-in drivers often include a cellphone number or where they are – “I’m shopping in X store and can be out in two minutes to switch plugs with you”. It’s the EV version of “pay it forward”.
Plug In America offers two free EV dashboard cards you can download and print – the green one says “okay to unplug”, the red one says “charge needed”, and both have a space to add your mobile phone number.
Chargepoint America has introduced a reservation system for chargers in more popular locations, and Ford apps for its plug-ins have maps of the nearest charging locations and wait times.
It will get easier to find charging stations.
Mercedes-Benz is building a 400-charger network which will give preference to its customers, but available to all.
Practice safe charging.
Wind up the cord when you are done, so nobody trips over it or drives over it.
More than 160,000 electrified vehicles have been sold in the US, from all-electrics such as the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and Ford Lightning F150 to plug-ins like the Toyota Prius PHEV, and that number is sure to increase with new plug-ins.
S&P Global Mobility estimates that there around 16,822 Tesla Superchargers and Tesla destination chargers in the United States, plus 126,500 Level 2 and 20,431 Level 3 charging ports.
The US Dept. of Energy lists more than 6,500 public charging stations in the U.S., which is about ten vehicles per public outlet.
While that number is growing – especially the number of Level 3 fast chargers, which can recharge a vehicle in around 30 minutes – there always will be more vehicles to plug in than there are chargers, , just as there are more vehicles of any type than parking spaces in downtown New York City or San Francisco.
The best way to avoid EV charger rage is to mind your manners.
This article was first published in my automotive column, Green Wheeling, syndicated by Motor Matters to national and regional newspapers, which ceased publishing in 2020 due to the Pandemic.
It has been updated and revised for publication here, and republished periodically to remind us all to share the road and the EV chargers.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter currently serves as President of the International Motor Press Assn. (IMPA) and is a former Board Member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW)
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright (C) Evelyn Kanter