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Published on January 20th, 2016 | by Kyle Field

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Plug-In Vehicle Public Charging Etiquette

January 20th, 2016 by  

This article cracks open the can of worms that is public plug-in vehicle charging etiquette. Those of us who own or drive plug-in vehicles have experienced the ups and downs that come from using a shared public charging network. For the most part, this applies to the normal (J1772 in the US) Level 2 chargers, but it is starting to creep into the DC fast charging bracket as more and more of those stations are installed.

Disclaimer: This article is positioned intentionally to broach topics relevant to EV drivers who make use of public chargers. With the myriad of different charging setups across the nation and around the world, it is not possible to summarize all positions in any single article without going full-bore doctoral dissertation. Net — this article does not cover all possible scenarios but provides general challenges, perspectives, and positions.

Having said that, let’s jump in…

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EV Charging Duration

One of the more obvious etiquette challenges is charging time. With public charging stations generally in short supply, is it wrong to charge for longer than you “need” to?  What if the car is at 80% charge and the owner goes in to catch the latest 2-hour-long blockbuster, tying up the spot the entire time?

Many owners are great about this and will actually come back to their vehicle to move it to a non-charging stall after the required charge/range is attained, but many are not. With EV spots often located in prime parking spots, they are prone to abuse and frequently host plug-in vehicles that are full — even several hours after filling up.

Good Etiquette: Charge as much as needed, then move the car. At the very least, don’t leave a plug in vehicle in the spot after it’s full.

2015 dual Leaf Charging

Charging Only When Needed

Scaling the sensitivity meter back a bit, is it wrong to “convenience charge” even if you don’t “need” any extra range to get home? This is commonly seen at free chargers where insiders or even employees of a local EV advocate business will leave a plug-in vehicle parked in the charging stall all day. It is a tough call because free charging is nice, though when boiled down to dollars and sense, it’s not really a big deal.

Good Etiquette: Don’t take the last charging spot for convenience charging or, if you do, leave a note with a phone number.

Big Gubbament Blocking Spots at Night

Many cities, townships, and municipalities are starting to explore ways to cut carbon footprints, save cash on gas, or want to take advantage of state and federal grants to purchase plug-in vehicles. As part of this exploration, charging naturally becomes a part of the discussion and, inevitably, a few chargers will get installed at City Hall, the metro depot, or at a service yard.

What many people see, though, is that these stations become full-time employees of the handful of city plug-in vehicles — never available for anyone else to use — yet they are almost certainly listed on PlugShare.com as “public” chargers. Blocking spots full time is the prerogative of the owner, but it will not make any friends around town. On top of that, it projects a very anti-EV image that is counter to the original intent of the charging station.

Good Etiquette: Cities that truly want to promote plug-in vehicle driving need to set a good example. Park government plug-in vehicles in the spot next to the EV charging spot and put stickers on city plug-in vehicles indicating that they can be unplugged after fully charged. This is greatly facilitated by plug-in vehicles that provide external state of charge indicators — like the Nissan Leaf and the Kia Soul EV.

Teslas Charging in Public Charging Spots

The facts are plain and simple: Teslas have 2–4 times more all-electric range than most plug-in vehicles on the road. With that, Teslas are generally not in need of charging when out running around town — and if they are, Superchargers are sprinkled around at regular intervals — so why not go there, right?

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Since purchasing our Tesla, we have used public charging more. Why? Superchargers are actually intended for long distance travel — not just to top off while grabbing groceries every Tuesday afternoon (you know who you are). More relevantly, we have not yet installed the Tesla Wall Connector that came with our CPO purchase (requires an electrical panel upgrade which requires a full new wiring upgrade which… you get the picture) and are driving the car more, so the 110 volt charger simply isn’t cutting it. This results in me actively seeking out public charging for our Tesla.

Flipping the coin over, do I “need” to charge there? Nope. Almost certainly not. I want to take advantage of the mind-blowing 6.6 kilowatt public charging to fill up for the week so that, as my insufficient nighttime charging eats away at my range through the week, I have enough to get home. As a former Leaf driver, I can see how this is a problem for many plug-in vehicles with lower range.

Good Etiquette: Don’t charge the Tesla at public charging locations unless there are other open charging stalls (not on the same block or in the same city…but in the lot 🙂 ).

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) that “Need” to Charge

I have to be honest — this one grinds my gears. While at the “Drive Electric Week” event in Santa Monica, California, many plug-in vehicle owners were charging at the handful of free city charging spots under a PV solar canopy that offset much of the power used to charge. As more owners arrived, I started coordinating charging at the limited number of spots. “You want to charge? Okay, the blue Leaf only needs another 30 minutes. Park here and we’ll plug you in when he’s done.”

This continued for much of the morning… with just fully battery-electric vehicles. Then a Volt rolled in. I told him that all of the chargers were full and that because he didn’t “need” to charge, that it wasn’t a big deal. The driver said with urgency “We NEED to plug in!” Now, I was 56 miles from home and arrived with ~20 miles left, so I felt entitled. I really did “need” to charge to get home, but this Volt owner clearly didn’t. I get that the owner was trying to avoid burning gasoline and that’s great, but it is a want, not a need.

This situation is only compounding, as I recently noted a similar experience when we turned in our Leaf to Tesla and they wanted to charge it before driving it further (as documented here)… and I see it all the time around town. I regularly count more PHEVs than BEVs in charging stalls around town. And why not? The infrastructure is there for them as well, right? It’s a touchy subject and not one that will be settled in a few paragraphs.

I personally advocate shifting battery-electric vehicles to DC fast charging only for stops around town. With the onslaught of PHEVs coming year after year, the problem will only get worse. If BEVs were to “give” the public J1772 / Level 2 charging network to PHEVs and switch to DC fast charging (DCFC) only, the issue goes away. We need more DCFC stations before this can happen and would create significant ripples in the plug-in vehicle force. Ultimately, this will happen as a result of new fast-charging standards. If a BEV driver can fully charge up a 200 mile range battery in 10 minutes, why would they use a J1772 at all? Then again, if a BEV owner can fully charge up in 10 minutes, why have a PHEV at all? 😀

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Alternately, cities, states, and others could simply ban PHEVs from using public charging. Thinking back to why public charging exists makes this an obvious choice. Public charging stations exist to keep BEV drivers from getting stranded. PHEV owners can’t get stranded by running out of charge. This is an ugly one because it drives a huge shaft into the plug-in vehicle movement and takes away something that many drivers have grown accustomed to using.

Good Etiquette: Similar to Tesla owners, don’t take the last charging spot, or leave a note with a number to call if the spot is “needed” by a BEV owner in dire straights.

ICEd!EVcharging_sign

Finally, a cause we can all rally behind. Nobody likes an internal combustion
engine (ICE) vehicle parked in an EV charging spot. That’s just not cool in any town, no matter what. Sorry dude.

Good Etiquette: Build EV parking spots away from the entrances to the store/mall/market. This reduces the incentive to park in a plug-in vehicle charging spot. Having and enforcing firm “Plug In Vehicle Only” regulations helps drive the point home if needed. Printing up “feedback notes” (like these) and having them ready in the car is also a great tactic.

At the end of the day, it’s all about following the golden rule: Do what you would want the guy parked next to you to do. Don’t be a jerk… because living in a world full of jerks sucks.

Article inspired by a TMC forum post.

All images by Kyle Field


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About the Author

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need.



  • Carzin

    This article stinks of entitlement, and a lot of the comments by BEV owners show their entitlement, as well. I would wager a bet that the MAJORITY of charging by BEV owners IS NOT NECESSARY. There likely are not a significant number of BEV owners that require public charging to routinely get where they need to, yet I bet a very high majority of the charging is ‘opportunity charging,’ just like PHEVs. If the only time chargers were used is when it is absolutely necessary, then they would sit idle the majority of the time, business owners would see them as unnecessary, and the infrastructure would not be invested in. Busy charging stations, regardless of who is using them, is the best advertisement to getting more infrastructure installed as well as giving a clear message to the general public that electric vehicles have arrived. Eventually, as there are a lot more stations, possibly certain EVSEs can be designated as ‘critical use’, and then this won’t be much of an issue. But we aren’t there, yet. At my office, I was the first electric vehicle owner (a 2012 Chevy Volt). I managed to drive 72,000 electric only miles, out of a total of 76,000 total miles due to public charging stations. I have directly and indirectly gotten a lot of my coworkers driving electric (1 Volt, 4 Leafs, and 1 BMW i3 [my new car]). One of the most inconsiderate moves of the BEV owners is that several DO NOT CHARGE AT HOME, and do their best to only charge with free electricity. In fact, after a 4 day weekend, one asked me to move because he had not charged, and because it was cold, he had no range left. I moved, even though I think his charging strategy is prickish. Bottom line, they are everyone’s EVSEs, and you can justify the use of the stations for every single constituency group. If you purchased a vehicle without a range extender or with insufficient range, then the blame is on you, not the others that got to the EVSE before you. My expertise: 2012 Chevy Volt and 2015 BMW i3 REX and over 73,000 electric miles.

    • Kyle Field

      I like the idea of zoning some public chargers as “critical use” as this is essentially what I was getting at. If there’s only one charger left and you don’t need to charge (due to driving a PHEV, larger battery vehicle or just topped up already), don’t charge – make the decision to leave it as a critical use charging spot.

      • Bob_Wallace

        It seems to me that we will need to move to a system in which charge outlets will be reserved. You’ll enter your destination and time of departure and the charging system will determine where and when to write you in.

        If you wait until the last minute on a busy travel day you may find yourself making an extra stop and recharging after burning off ~100 miles in order to put you out of sync with the majority of travelers.

        I assume some people may use ‘superchargers’ to for all their charging as they won’t have a place to plug in. They would probably be scheduled for off peak demand times.

  • Bubba Nicholson

    “Free” goods are always in high demand. There is always a shortage. It’s the reason we have “traffic jams”, too many people wanting public freebees, i.e. free roads. To avoid this problem, just charge fees at popular charging stations at what the market will tolerate. That way only rich people can charge, sure, but it will provide the incentive for others to install more chargers elsewhere.

  • eveee

    Whats needed is structure. What is the goal? Isn’t it the best transportation with the least emissions? There are plenty of tools available to do the job. Certainly, the social contract is part of it. That means instruction and guidance is necessary until people get used to the idea. We are in the early stages of public charging and there are no clear cut universal rules yet.
    Here are our tools. We know how to limit time at the charger or in a space and we have the means. Parking time can be limited just like any parking space with fines, tickets, and if the vehicle is ICE, by towing. It would not be difficult to collect license plate or vehicle description information. The devices that allow express toll can also be used. We know what kind of charger there is, so the amount of time should be limited so that others can used it in busy locations. That is according to purpose. The charger itself can raise the rate or include a fine if the vehicle is plugged in past the set limit. Then there is the possibility that the charger can be locked in until the time set point is reached. At that point, the charge plug can be switched to a vehicle in another stall. To this end, chargers should be designed between rows of parking on all sides. Slow chargers will need to be limited in high use areas during busy hours, just like ordinary parking.
    Here, the biggest problem is that in places where parking spots are at a premium, even handicapped parking is abused already.
    And honestly, PHEVs should not be using public chargers. They don’t need to charge. The saved gasoline is minimal vs towing an EV.
    Face it. These issues will be determined by rules eventually. It up to us to make some sense of it in advance. Special EV and emission traffic studies and the usual traffic engineering should be done to form a solid base for action.
    You can google BEV PHEV public charging study. There are case studies from UC Davis and McKinsey in Europe.

  • hybridbear

    How about just recommending that free charging stations come with a pricing structure that hinders long term parking. Perhaps make it free for the first 1 hour or 2 hours & then very expensive (like $10 per hour) beyond that original limit. This would incentivize drivers to either move their car before the free period ends or to not plug in at all unless really necessary to avoid the hassle. I bet a lot of PHEV owners would elect to just not plug in because they don’t want the hassle of moving their car or paying the high cost.

    • Kyle Field

      Many chargers are in lots that are free so adding a price just to those spots would be an extra burden. Having said that, some DCFC rates are starting to do just this for exactly this reason.

      • hybridbear

        Why? If a ChargePoint EVSE is installed the administrator can set pricing like my example.

        • Kyle Field

          Good point and that could work. Communication would be the key – make sure people know about the time-weighted rates before charging. But yeah, this would work for Chargepoint stations

          • eveee

            I could see the possibility of gated EV only parking lots. That would help with the ICE space stealing. I agree also that city EVs should be charged at city only stations, leaving true public charging stations available for their intended purpose. After all, city vehicles are often located in city utility lots.

  • Otis11

    So I (might) have a bit of a problem with this…

    I, being a perfectly (well, mostly) reasonable guy – If I were charging a PHEV, had more range than needed for my day or was planning on being at the facility longer than necessary to charge (say I was going to a 3 hour movie but only needed 30 minutes to top off) would gladly surrender my charger (I say mine because I’m assuming I was already there using the charger) to someone who was in more dire need of the charge than I if simply asked – And I think that’s what you’re getting at.

    That said, if I were driving a Tesla (or Volt) and a Leaf driver came up to me and demanded I surrender my plug (or even if I were in line and they demanded they be allowed to cut me) due to ‘needing it more’ – that would not go over well.

    These plugs, like parking spots, (unless specifical signage indicates otherwise) are a first-come-first-serve basis. Being a reasonable guy, I will typically chose the ‘greater good’ especially when the marginal cost to me is negligible, but one, I have a thing against entitlement (which I feel like the wording of some of this promotes – even if unintentionally) and two, I might have a reason for charging – who’s to tell me my reason isn’t as valid as theirs (especially if I’ve waited my turn)?

    • Kyle Field

      In general, first come, first served makes sense. At the same time, there are also situations where there’s only one charging spot left and you (or me) may not need to charge. In those cases, I opt not to charge. That leaves the spot open for those who might need it. Yeah, someone else might come along and take the last spot just to top off…but I tried to do my part.

      • Otis11

        Well, but if you were driving a PHEV, wouldn’t it be better to charge and not use gas than to leave it open (and likely unused) only to drive home on gas?

        Especially if the plug doesn’t lock. Actually – in any car that doesn’t lock the charger, even if you have more range than you need, park next to the charger (leaving the charging space open) and plug in with a note saying it’s ok to unplug if needed!

        These rules are more reasonable IMHO: http://www.plugincars.com/eight-rules-electric-vehicle-etiquette-127513.html

        • Kyle Field

          Fair enough. I’m fine with your suggestion. The underlying principle is to try to be more considerate. I’ve been driving EVs for over a year and haven’t seen much consideration out there. As long as this article gets people thinking about being more considerate and provides some new perspective, it was a success 🙂

          • Otis11

            Fair enough.

            My only concern with the article was creating a sense of entitlement among EV owners for those chargers…

  • David Galvan

    As longer-range affordable BEVS become more prevalent (which is what many of us are expecting to happen in the post Bolt, Leaf Gen 2, Tesla Model 3 era. . .), BEV drivers should be come gradually less reliant on public charging infrastructure. I expect that many will simply opt to not bother seeking out charging opportunities outside the home, both because they won’t really need to, and because of the hassle of there being not enough charging infrastructure for everyone who uses it.

    So, in short, higher capacity batteries should ameliorate some charging-demand problems.

    • Kyle Field

      I agree and can’t wait for that to be the case. Similar to the Tesla model today, anyone on a road trip will only be looking for DCFC stations – not J1772 which shifts the public charging dynamic. It’s going to be an interesting couple of years, that’s for sure.

      • neroden

        Even 2 years ago — with no Superchargers in existence — I was only looking for 70 amp and higher charging points. With the exception of hotels, where lower rates are OK — there I was just looking for hotels which *had* chargers.

  • David Galvan

    The PHEV issue came up in these forums (or was it on GreenCarReports? maybe both) when it was announced the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV would be released in the U.S. without a CHAdeMO port.

    I and a few others argued that was a good thing: We couldn’t imagine why an owner of a PHEV with only ~20 miles electric range would want to stop every 20 miles to spend 30 minutes charging, instead of just driving on using hybrid mode. And also we didn’t want to see PHEV owners taking up valuable DCFC charging stations when BEV owners actually NEED to charge.

    But others countered: Better to have a quick charge port on a PHEV, since then they will have the option of taking up a quick charge spot for 30 minutes instead of a Level 2 spot for several hours!

    • Kyle Field

      I fully agree with you and recall talking this in the comments – PHEVs with DCFC ports makes no sense.

  • sault

    There’s gotta be an app for EV owners to get in touch about switching out charging spots or unplugging charged cars so uncharged cars can get some juice. I don’t want my phone number out in public. We need something like what Craigslist does where 2 people can communicate over email without either party knowing what the other’s email address is.

    I would make an app that just requires the driver needing a charge to walk up to the occupied charger and a geotag matching system identifies the car already occupying the charging spot. Since there could be multiple users in the same parking lot, the person wanting to charge in an occupied spot would just pick the make / mode / color of the vehicle in the spot they want since this is info they would have publicly anyway (I hope the orange Bolt won’t be too popular since this will make this step more complicated. Maybe the license plate number can be used as a fool-proof method of identifying the car). Once the proper vehicle is chosen, the requesting driver sends a request to the app and the app then messages the driver of the car already being charged with whatever message necessary. This can range from “Hey, can I unplug your car?” to “Hey, can you plug in my car when you leave?”

    Sounds crazy or not?

    • Foersom

      > a geotag matching system identifies the car already occupying the charging spot.

      Why not just read the license plate as Id?

      • sault

        Convenience. Location plus make, model & color could probably link up more than 99% of drivers. If the app just came up with the different vehicles in the lot and all the user needs to do is pick which one whose owner they want to contact. It’ll be easier than Tinder! There could always be the option to locate via license plate just to cover the `1% of times when the same make, model & color of vehicle is in close proximity.

    • Agreed about the app. I was thinking the same thing. The easiest would be for Chargepoint to just integrate a notification with their current app. If all the chargers at a location are full, the person that needs to charge swipes their card on one of the readers as they usually would and Chargepoint sends a notification to all the people currently charging there. It would, of course, be up to the current chargers to decide if they want to give up their spot, but then at least they would know someone wants it. It would be nice, as well, if the requester could add a note like “I’m in a Leaf with 5 miles range and need 20 to get home” or something, as well, but that would be a a extra step.

    • RusselC

      You mean like ChargeBump?

      • sault

        Crap, is that for real? Well, there goes my billion-dollar idea!

  • evfan

    With all due respect, I have seen these kinds of guides many times. And while it works in some cases (e.g. Chris in Raleigh), charging away from home remains a headache, because it is unpredictable.

    The fundamental disconnect is that there are not enough chargers. Just like there are not enough SuperBowl tickets, or hotel rooms. Etiquette helps a little, but will not solve the problem.

    For football and hotels, we are smart enough to adjust the price to manage the demand, and allow advanced reservations. This has 2 benefits: it means the people that truly want them, can get them. And it creates an incentive to have more ball games and build more hotels.

    The current problem will last until EV drivers start paying a sustainable price for charging.

    PS: Even Tesla suffers from this to some extent, I recall Elon Musk being unhappy about Tesla owners charging near their homes, saying that Superchargers are actually intended for long distance travel.

    • Kyle Field

      Totally agree. We need more chargers and the growing pains are going to be rough. As a community, we can try to make this easier by being more aware of the needs of the group which helps everyone.

    • eveee

      Yes. Charging away from home could be by reservation. This concept needs to be put in the mix as it is an extremely important one for longer distance travel. And automating all of this by phone apps makes great sense. Putting reservation apps in phones would facilitate managing long distance charging and limit charging abuses.

  • thelogenator

    For the record. I’m all about fostering a polite and cooperative community. But I stand by my statement that this article is doing a disservice to everyone and will go further to say that the whole thing should be retracted. Cleantechnica should not be spreading this sort of junk “charging etiquette” as it only creates an atmosphere of special entitlement that will ruin the plug in community not improve it.

    If you want to follow some charging etiquette that doesn’t pit plug in drivers against each other then I suggest you google “electric vehicle charging etiquette” and read the article from plugincars.

  • Jack Brown

    It comes down to 3 simple rules. 1. Never block a charger if you are not charging. 2. Limit your charge, don’t charge to your limit. 3. Never unplug another EV without permission. Although I admire you for trying to list out more than that, I think it is wrong to state some brands are less entitled to public chargers than others. 95% of my public charging of my Tesla is at a level 2 station either at work out at home where I publicly list it on Plugshare and I have no issue with my neighbors or visitors stopping by with a Leaf or plug in prius to get a charge. I do agree that communication is vital. Whenever you charge in public, leave a time that you will be done and your contact info IF you are comfortable. If possible use an adjacent space while opportunity charging to leave the ev space clear and a note stating it’s OK to unplug. I sell kits at my Take Charge and Go website that make all of this very easy for the EV community to get along.

    • thelogenator

      +1^ Way simpler to follow than the nonsense Kyle Field is spreading.

      Google “plug in cars etiquette” and read the 8 rules for plugin cars article for a responsible public charging etiquette.

    • neroden

      Yeah. ALWAYS leave your phone contact information on the dashboard in case someone arrives who needs to charge urgently.

      • Calamity_Jean

        I don’t own an electric car yet, so I don’t understand a lot of this. I’ve always assumed that if a business installs a charger in their parking lot that they either require someone using it to be a patron of the business, or they require advance permission. The electric-car driver would need to apply to the business in advance and while plugged in would need to have some sort of letter of authorization or an “Authorized User” ID card or something. And I’d expect that if I left a car plugged in and walked away, I’d come back to find my car towed away or worked over with a tire iron, depending on whether the business owner or some other driver found it first.

        So what’s this about leaving your phone contact information on the dashboard? You’d be right there, why would someone phone you?

        • Kyle Field

          For example…if I’m parking at the mall. There’s no easy way to know who owns the car. This is also the case in many public parking structures, shared parking lots, etc.

  • Garrity

    Given the increased amount of plug ins on the road, eventually, you will need to get rid of free charging. Even for Tesla’s. When you make it more expensive then charging at home (hopefully not too much more) people who really need to charge to get to XYZ will be the only one using public stations which will decrease the congestion significantly.

    Keyword is eventually. I see the pros of free charging to help the promotion and funding of EV’s and charging stations, but the cons of free charging are becoming more evident as more plug ins fill the roads.

    • Kyle Field

      I like this approach – especially as we work through the initial learning curves and growing pains of more and more EVs running around.

    • neroden

      Nope. You’ll never need to get rid of free charging…. well, not exactly.

      Did we ever get rid of free parking? Nope! Not even with so many cars on the road! Well… not exactly.

      The standard business model for parking is “free if you patronize this business”. That’s going to be the same model for most charging. It’s subject to debate whether that’s free or not.

      Of course, some parking is also paid parking.

      I expect that in the future charging will simply be associated with parking. Free charging…. but if the parking isn’t free, the charging will only be free for those paying the parking fee.

      This is also Tesla’s way out of dealing with overused charging sites. The charging remains absolutely free… but the parking costs money.

      Charging at home is so cheap that most people won’t pay the going parking rates for the inconvenience of driving out to a free charging location to get free electricity.

  • Harold Thiers

    Hear Hear, I agree with it all. You only once need to experience issues with access to bring it all home.
    Tanger Mall in Riverhead NY, 12 L2 Chargepoint charger, free, were installed this past summer. I arrived from a trip up island to the Drive electric event. 100miles round trip with a FFE. Not enough range to make it there and back. Since there were no charger at the Drive electric event, I planned to charge at Tanger. There were 3 spots taken up by a Handicaped Stickered vehicle, a Prius non plug in and an ICE vehicle.
    Luckily someone across from the spots left and the charge cable could reach to a non EV spot. A moment of frustration for sure. The other 3 spots at this row of 6 L2s were taken up by PHEVs, Ford Energie vehicles, that really didn’t need to charge. Fail on all sides in my book!

    • thelogenator

      Are you saying that you want PHEVs to not use empty charging stations and instead pollute the planet by burning toxic fuel on the off chance that you decide to roll up in your low range EV in need of a charge?

      • Harold Thiers

        PHEV are an intermediary step for the Herd. Yes, I think there’s a big difference between flatbedding an EV to a charger, vs buying 1 gallon of gas. I believe there should be a distinction between pure EV and those with incorporated back up power IE Ford Energie

        • Harold Thiers

          I’ll add this to your comment, knowing you drive a 2012 Volt and proud of the fact that you use like $2 worth of gas a year. at 38 mile range, you certainly benefited from public charging and used it to your advantage or never go far from home, but you’ve never been stranded due to the lack of consideration by others. you don’t have the same perspective as I do given you have the option to burn toxic fuel on the off chance you can’t charge for free at a public charger.

          • thelogenator

            I’d be happy to give up my charging spot for someone who was desperate for a quick charge for whatever reason if approached. But what you seem to be saying is that long range EVs like a Tesla and PHEVs like the the Volt should not be allowed to use public chargers. They should be kept empty just in case you decide grace the area with your presence. Because you’re special and should never have wait for a free public charging station to open up.

            Maybe it would help if you went around town and hung “Reserved for Harold Thiers” signs on all the charging stations you find.

            Why did you chose to drive an EV if being able to drive anywhere you want, anytime you want without ever having to wait any amount of time for free public refueling was such an important requirement?

          • Harold Thiers

            Maybe you are a good citizen, who leaves a number on their car to call you and you’ll move your car to help someone like me.
            The article is on Etiquette “A code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group”
            If I had a PHEV I wouldn’t take the last spot. “Period” I’ve driven 26K miles in 23 months and have used 3 public charging sessions in that time. I have another “toxic fuel” spewing vehicle for those longer rides. Public charging option isn’t all that convenient anyway. 20 miles per hour charging rates really don’t help you much unless you have planned ahead and are willing the risk of getting ICED or PHEV and have time on your hands to deal with those odds.
            The 6 stations had 3 no EV vehicles in them. My frustration was mostly expressed at those ICE owners and at the plick in the Pruis that wasn’t a plug in. That’s being inconsiderate.
            PHEV were built to reduce the gas consumption and not really built to drive exclusively electric. Your Volt, case in point, lets you do you 40 mile round trip commute, but then need to run an extra errand, you burn a gallon of gas and the next day, charged from home, you repeat….
            Now that PHEV are coming with 50 mile ranges it becomes apparent how nice it is to drive EV and you stretch your EV habit to avoid using gas. Your volt, is again a case in point, can’t quite commit to the idea of running out E-juice so I bought a motor too, but I’m going to stretch it as far as I can by free loading on public charger and show my entitlement and feel good about my social morals.
            Free public charging is absolutely NOT a requirement. My experience with it is limited, and mostly dissapointing. It shouldn’t be free. It should be a bail out at price equally to gas.
            I only have one station reserved for Harold Thiers… The one at my house, which I’ve shared on plugshare for 2 years and no one has asked to use it. Not even a PHEV…. case in point. You shouldn’t use public charging networks. PHEV are not EVs. They are gas cars with electric drivetrains.

          • thelogenator

            Successful codes of of conduct are simple to understand and follow. They are not at all like the contrived nonsense you and the author of this article are trying to suggest.

            1. Charging spots are only for cars that are actively being charged.
            2. Move your vehicle once your charge is complete or at the posted time limit. Whatever come first.

            It sure would be polite to not use or linger at a charger if you really don’t need the extra range. But they are there on a first come, first serve basis. Only you can decide if you need to charge or not. Other people don’t get to make this decision for you based on their own self serving logic.

          • Harold Thiers

            In that case Log.n Ha..y of Viv..t Sol.r, Your 3 volts never have a reason to use a public charger… kirk Out!

          • neroden

            No, sorry, we do get to make this decision for you based on cold, hard, logic. There’s an obvious difference between “want to charge” and “need to charge”.

            Hopefully eventually there will be enough chargers that people who actually *need* to charge will never find themselves stranded calling the flatbed. It’s basic etiquette to make sure that you don’t help cause that sort of problem.

            Charge whereever you like, but either stay in your car or leave a phone number on your windshield in case someone who NEEDS to charge actually shows up (which is fairly rare).

  • thelogenator

    The author is saying some people are more special than others and is doing the plug in community a disservice with this article.

    There is no way to enforce the idea that the whoever “needs” the charge the most gets the charger rule. It’s first come first serve and move your vehicle as soon as it’s finished or when you’ve hit the posted time limit. Period, no exceptions. This applies to Teslas, PHEVs and short range BEVs. You are making a big mistake if you buy a plug in car and expect to always find a open public charge station. Nobody is more entitled to a public charger than anybody else.

    • Kyle Field

      It is not about entitlement, but about fostering a community that acts responsibly. I can charge on the way home every day for free but that takes up a spot that someone else might need.

      • vdiv

        Someone else is not more entitled to the station for whatever reason you believe has merit and if you want to foster a community then you should not be advocating for charging station anxiety such as this. Public charging stations by their definition are for everyone to use.

        • Kyle Field

          I’m curious – do you drive an EV? If so, what type?

          • vdiv

            Does it matter?

          • Kyle Field

            Yep. Tesla owners don’t understand the range anxiety that lower range EV owners feel just about every time they leave town.

          • vdiv

            And what entitles you to claim expertise on what Tesla owners understand or don’t?

          • JeffJL

            Perhaps because he has recently bought a Tesla, upgrading from a LEAF.

            Can we have your expertise?

          • vdiv

            Perhaps I didn’t claim one.

          • thelogenator

            You chose to drive a vehicle that doesn’t have the range to meet your needs and then expect to never be inconvenienced by having to wait for a free public charger to open up. Talk about a first world problem.

            The only time you’d have a right to complain is if the free public charger is being ICED, if a driver has gone over the time limit or if they don’t move their vehicle once their charge is complete. I have your back 100% in those situations. Otherwise you just come across as being a entitled cry baby.

          • Jack Brown

            I am a Tesla owner and a former BMW ActiveE electronaut that had only 80 miles of range and an L2 plug. I understand perfectly

          • Kyle Field

            I’m thankful that you have the context from your time with the BMW. I’m in the same boat having upgraded from a Leaf to a Model S and am very thankful for the context it has given me.

          • neroden

            Having driven a Model S from Ithaca, NY to Grand Rapids, MI when there were no Superchargers in existence, during an ice storm… I am very acutely aware of the difference between convenience charging and NEEDING to charge.

            The person who NEEDS to charge to get to their destination should always be given priority.

  • Chris_in_Raleigh

    I once parked next to a charging car, popped the charge-port door of my Leaf partially open, walked away, and when I returned later, found my car plugged in and charged. Felt great knowing that someone I didn’t know would do that for me.

    • Kyle Field

      It is a great feeling 🙂

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