Eight Rules of Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette

By · July 16, 2014

Plug Close-Up

1EV Spots for EVs

It’s absolutely never acceptable for an internal combustion car to park in a spot designated for a plug-in car. That’s a firm rule, no matter how crowded a parking lot is, and no matter how infrequently the charging location is used.

2No Nasty Notes

Electric car drivers should never leave nasty notes. If the charging spot you counted on using is ICEd—the term referring to a charging spot occupied by an internal combustion engine car—by all means, the plug-in driver should leave a note on the windshield explaining the predicament. The note can be firm, but should be expressed in polite language—in a good-will gesture that will hopefully convince the offender not to make the mistake again.

3Charge Only When Necessary

Don’t charge if you don’t need a charge. Leave the spot free for another EV driver that might need the charge to safely complete his or her daily travels.

4Charge Up and Move On

Only occupy a charging spot while your car is being charged. As soon as the charging session is completed—either when your battery is full or when you have adequate range to comfortably reach your destination—be prepared to unplug and move your car as soon as possible, making way for a fellow plug-in driver. (Many charging networks and car apps can be set to notify you by email or text when your charging session is completed.)

5It's Okay to Ask for a Charge

If a charging spot you needed is being used, and you are able to park next to a car that is currently charging, it’s perfectly fine to leave a note asking the owner to plug your car in after his or her session is complete. If you have receive such a note, honor the request. If the charging session requires a fee, you are obviously not obligated to activate the charging session (and incur a fee)—although that kind gesture will likely be returned some day. As with any note left on a windshield, it’s advisable to include your name and cell phone number so you can be contacted.

6Don't Unplug Plug-in Hybrids...

An owner of a pure electric car owner, like a Nissan LEAF, does NOT have the right to unplug a plug-in hybrid, such as a Chevy Volt—just because that car has a back-up gas engine.

7...Except When Plug-in Hybrid Is Done Charging

The exception to Rule #6—and applicable in fact to any other plug-in car—says that it’s okay for one plug-in car owner to unplug another car, if the first car has clearly finished charging. In this event, the driver who makes the switch should leave a note explaining why it was unplugged. The note should be full of gratitude and include your cell number. (The PlugShare app has a notification function so drivers can contact each other prior to unplugging. Drivers should try to make contact prior to unplugging.)

8Safety First

Practice safe charging. The means properly managing the cord. Neatly wind the cord on its holder, and tuck it in so people will not trip on any excess length, or drive over it.

Comments

· · 1 year ago

Great article. All plug-in vehicle drivers should read it.

The only thing I would add is that PEV drivers should put a PIA EV card on their dash. This allows people to contact them before unplugging it or if they need the car moved.
http://www.pluginamerica.org/evcard

· · 1 year ago

Great and timely write-up, Brad. Would you mind if SF BayLEAFs republished it?

· · 1 year ago

@surfingslovak - Okay for one time use for SF BayLEAFS only, with prominent credit for PluginCars.com. Thanks for spreading the word.

· · 1 year ago

Regarding Rule #7, you have to know what your local ordinances are. In Raleigh if you are occupying an EV spot you must be plugged in. Otherwise you will be subject to a $50 ticket! I keep a card on my dash with my cell number telling people to call or text if they need to plug in.

· · 1 year ago

I'm afraid the author is a bit naive about ICE'ing. Notes, nasty or nice are a waste of time & effort. I've seen my nice note be crumpled up, thrown out the window & driven over as the offender drives off in a cloud of smoke.
What is needed is a nation-wide EV parking regulation bill that has a mandatory tow-a-way provision for all cars not actively using the charger. The request for the tow should be taken away from the management of the venue. Let the EV drivers of America enforce it with our calls. No one will have someone towed who is a patron just because they happen to be blocking an EV spot. I've seen it, I know what I'm talking about!!!

· · 1 year ago

Just a warning on unplugging a charging Chevy Volt. Mine sets off the car alarm when you unplug it and the key fob is not close by.

· · 1 year ago

> Just a warning on unplugging a charging Chevy Volt. Mine sets off the car alarm when you unplug it and the key fob is not close by.<

If the Volt is done charging, and I unplug it, I have no problem with an alarm going off. In fact, that could be pretty fun. Might be a bummer for the owner, but wow. We need to rethink this whole "I plugged in first, so it is mine, and I'm gonna make a big deal of the *I should be sharing, but am not* policy that GM included with the Volt. An alarm? That goes off even if the car is done charging? Really?

· · 1 year ago

Stranded EV drivers should not be forced to touch another driver's vehicle under any circumstances. In Southern states, touching a person's automobile--or anything on another person's automobile without permission--is grounds for assault. In other words, unplug another EV and you demonstrate your appetite for a knuckle sandwich.
No, I'm afraid that these fancy plugs are doomed dinosaurs. If the charging machine doesn't have sense enough to unplug from a fully charged EV and then plug itself into the next vehicle in line, it is likely to be relegated to the trash heap of history , along with communism, socialism, fascism, etc. Stuff that doesn't work needs to be fixed, hopefully without lawsuits, revolutions, and knuckle sandwiches.

· · 1 year ago

I betcha i can unplug you without touching the car. the charging station is NOT your property. You agree to its use based on the terms of the company providing the charging unit. If you are not charging, you have NO RIGHTS regarding use of the station and that includes being plugged in and not charging

· · 1 year ago

@TogetherinParis -

You seem a bit touchy on this subject! Dave makes a good point, yes?

One thing you're missing about fixing things that don't work... is that it has been working for many, many years. We've been sharing chargers since 1997 or so without issue, and without breaking kneecaps. It really isn't that hard, and it isn't as scary as all those "isms" that people don't seem to like unless they benefit from them (military protection, fire protection, police protection, automobile infrastructure... oh, I could go on....)

It turns out that things really do work better if we strive to help each other make the most of our limited resources - vs. deciding what's MINE, and that you'd better keep your grubby fingers off it or else!

· · 1 year ago

>Just a warning on unplugging a charging Chevy Volt. Mine sets off the car alarm when you unplug it and the key fob is not close by.

This is an issue that's bothered me (as a Leaf driver) a number of times. I think it's wrong and unwise to make any EV driver appear to be behaving illegally or inappropriately. So when I have to decide whether to unplug a noncharging Volt, I find myself weighing two sets of benefits and costs--usually deciding to go ahead with the switch. I switch and sit in my car and write a note. When the alarm stops, I walk over and place the note: just as much for the benefit of any onlookers as for the Volt's driver.

So here's my suggestion for conscientious Volt drivers, as you seem to be normafurlong. Why not take the 5 or 10 minutes to consult your owner's manual and determine how to change this default? Given the discussion here, and the overall benefit to plug-in drivers of any sort, it's really not appropriate to set an alarm to go off when someone unplugs your non-charging car. Since General Motors has dropped the ball with this default, the appropriate step would be to correct their oversight. If there's truly no way to change the default, you don't have much else of a moral obligation... except maybe to make a point of coming back to unplug a little sooner after charging.

· · 1 year ago

The alarm on the volt can be disabled rather easily when using a public charging system, it was designed to prevent the theft of the portable charger (the 10 volt on board one). To date I haven't been in a situation that would have allowed more than one car to charge at a time (though I must admit this makus sense). To all Volt users that may find themselves in this situation, plan ahead and disable the alarm until you need to use the portable charger. On another note though, since the charge door on the Volt is activated by the key fob, or from
inside the car, you couldn't just plug it in with out this kind of access (nice thought though), one would have to leave the door open upon leaving so it could be done and that leaves the car open to vandals.

· · 1 year ago

That should have read as "the 110 volt on board one"

· · 1 year ago

My office recently installed a charger conveniently right next to my reserved spot. (I won a charity auction for the rights to this spot). Now I have to move my car for my colleague who also has an EV...

Where does that fit on the rules? :-)

· · 1 year ago

@EdA -

Well the "rules" for public charging and those for "private lot" charging are going to be different. Especially if you "own" spot! Is your spot the only one that a charger can reach? That's a bummer - and poor planning on the installation.

· · 1 year ago

EdA:
My employer is in the process of installing 3 charging units where I work. For the time being, I am the only EV driver, so I don't anticipate the need to worry about etiquette. However, in the future I am certain that more co-workers will become EV drivers and at that time we will all need to consider iquette issues. I'd be only too happy to move my car for a fellow EV'r, and knowing the kind of people I work with, they'd feel the same. Ideally, if the Level II charger is situated between 2 spots, then we could accomodate up to 6 EVs and no one would need to move their car. But if we get enough that it becomes necessary, I would be all too happy to do it.
Lou

· · 1 year ago

Ok, a 2011 Chevy Volt has to have this "alarm" disabled at the dealership. 2012+ can do so in their configuration menu.

I paid to have mine disabled because I am already out of warranty. It's not a big deal for most to disable it. Most I have encountered have it disabled. I snuck into the menu on my dad's Volt and disabled it as well.

I wish the Volt would incorporate the same "lock" that can lock the charger into place until your desired charge is reached! Thats a nice feature, and it doesn't scare the crap out of some poor person unplugging your car. :(

· · 1 year ago

A couple things to keep in mind. Most charging stations now cost money to use. This means a couple of things. 1. You can save another EV some money if they are done charging, because they bill by how long they are plugged in, not how much power they are using. 2. The other guy probably won't plug you in as a favor, because it would cost him money.

I caught a "gentleman" parking his ICE car in a clearly marked "EV Charging only" spot and he refused to move. He was what you would call a "crusty old fart". I even explained that Washington State passed a law that would ticket him $124 for doing it, all he did was shrug.

· · 1 year ago

I must say, I strongly disagree with #6. Hybrids do not need to charge in order to get home. More than several times I've been left without the ability to charge because a plug-in Prius or Volt was plugged in. I need that charge to get home...they do not. The charging infrastructure should be there to support the transition to EVs, not hybrids.

What's even more irritating about it is the fact that the Volt is only capable of 40 electric miles, and the Prius a paltry 10, so it's not like they spend that much time actually charging but merely using up the spot and the charger.

· · 1 year ago

keveh:
The reason most people buy Volt's is because they want an EV without the range anxiety, striving to never use the ICE unless required. If you are regularly, "needing that charge to get home", then I would say you bought the wrong car. (I say that sympathetically, not spitefully, as I would hate to be in that condition... which is why I have a range-extended EV Volt and not a Leaf or Spark.)

Personally, where I live, I rarely can find public chargers - I've only ever plugged my Volt in (away from home) once in the 9 months I've had it - but if I was using them more often I probably would put a note in my window to let any EV-only owners know they could take the cord if they really needed it and to call/text me if they needed me to move.

· · 1 year ago

As stated above, in the DFW area, I rarely see public chargers - but when I have seen them they often are occupied by ICE vehicles. Also, they often seem to be prime spots, right by the front door of the establishment - I sort-of wish they would install them at a less desirable location to lessen the temptation for taking them when you don't need them.

· · 1 year ago

When I got my 2013 Volt home the first thing I did was disable the alarm for the charge port. Now Darell can't mess with me at the Target EV charging stations. :p

· · 1 year ago

I purchased the leaf so we may benefit down the road ! We will achieve our goals long term by working towards a common goal , much like what our founding fathers envisioned , like one of the first things we are taught / teach (sharing for example) ... yeah I know blah , blah , blah ! As the leaders in the E V trend others are viewing us with ? ? ? . We need to have this future energy source and usage a good thing for all . We are trending , so lets work out the bugs ,set the ground work and solid foundation for the industry standards by using our every day events or non-events as sounding boards to keep improving towards a smooth transition in an alternate energy usage ...etc. - What makes you smile -

· · 1 year ago

@ F8L -

Pffft. I'll just have to be more creative. Say... what color is that fancy new Volt?

· · 1 year ago

@Darell -

It's basic white. The Prius Plug In just wasn't EV enough for me so I traded for the Volt. I'm using much less gasoline now despite my long 100mile commute. :) I even got our building owners to install 5 new charging stations plus 2 more at another site. That's 7 new stations in Auburn!

· · 1 year ago

@darelldd and lloydt re. Volt alarm, as others have said, the intent of the alarm was not a ploy by GM to prevent plug sharing. It was intended as a theft deterrent for the portable charge cord. Unfortunately, the car has no way of knowing whether you are plugged into public charge station or using your portable charge cord. As others have said, only 2011 Volts have this hard coded where it must be disabled by a dealer. 2012+ can change it themselves in the config screen. Most Volt owners I know have it off. It would have been nice for GM to make it quick and easy to turn it off and on depending on what EVSE you are using rather than burying it in the config screens.

@keveh, in my almost 2yrs of Volt ownership, I've been unplugged 3 times while using public charge stations. All 3 times were by Leaf owners with the same attitude as you. It's frustrating enough to get ICEd, but it's worse when a fellow EVer treats you with such disrespect because they don't think your car is EV enough by their standard.

The fact that I chose to buy a vehicle with a gas range extender and you chose to buy one without does not give you any more right to a public charge station than I. Especially when it's a charge I'm paying for. If your trips require access to public stations intended for use by all plug-in vehicles, it's a risk you chose to take. There could just as easily be a pure BEV occupying the spot as well.

You also don't know if the PHEV has enough gas in it or not to make their next destination, perhaps their tank is empty. And it's not your right or place to force them to use their range extender just because they have one. That is their decision to make. If they are okay with it and willing to give priority to BEVs (as many are), they can leave an EV placard in their window letting you know it's okay to unplug them. But if there is no card displayed and they are not finished charging, you don't get to unplug them just because you think your vehicle has more rights to the station than theirs. Sorry but that's the way it is.

· · 1 year ago

Just two comments:

1. I never figured (nor stated nor implied) that the Volt alarm was a ploy to prevent plug sharing. The ignorance in the design just worked out that way.

2. Why do folks say they're sorry when they clearly aren't?

· · 1 year ago

darelldd
1) Perhaps it's just semantics, but I'd say that's exactly what you implied when you said this:
*I should be sharing, but am not* policy that GM included with the Volt. An alarm? That goes off even if the car is done charging? Really?"

I was simply clarifying the purpose of the alarm is to prevent charge cord theft, not to discourage plug sharing. Calling it GM's policy suggests they did this intentionally to prevent plug sharing. And clearly, if the intent of the alarm is to prevent cord theft, then it should go off regardless of whether or not you are done charging. But, with the exception of the first MY, Volt owners can go in and disable it. The owner's should use this feature responsibly and disable their alarm when plugged into shared public stations.

2) I'm sorry you feel that way :)

· · 1 year ago

@ Joule Thief -

1. OK. Uncle. I see how the inference can be made by my comments. The GM "policy" goes much deeper than the "cord theft" alarm (which I'll now call it, instead of what I'd like to call it, "the ignorant of ancillary ramifications" alarm.) I won't drag this out. I'll just leave it at this: It is my opinion that GM (again) has made some poor decisions based on ignorance and a "we're the best - everybody else can go suck it" mentality. That they have tempered the cord alarm problem with the option to defeat it is appreciated. Still too much of a PITA to toggle the thing. Something I'll bet is done quite rarely.

I appreciate your clarification for sure. While the purpose of the alarm was not to prevent sharing, GM didn't bother to even consider that ramification, did they? Couple that with the "must be actively charging" law they pushed hard for, and clearly GM never intended to have sharing as an option. (Thus my "policy" statement.")

Sorry. :-P

· · 1 year ago

What a depressing discussion - and one that consistently comes up once someone dares to suggest that BEVs might be accorded some priority over cars that can fill up across the street in two minutes.

I was and remain a supporter of the Volt and the technogy it brings to the market (my next car will be a PHEV, though one with more cargo space than the current Volt), but it bugs me that the PHEV, once seen as a helpful bridge to longer-range faster-charging BEVs (whenever they may show up), is emerging as an obstacle to making full use of the affordable BEVs we have today. BEVs never burn gas and travel lots further per charge, but if potential buyers notice public charging stations invariably tied up by Volts and Prii, they'll less likely risk getting a car that might leave them stuck in a parking lot waiting for Mr. PPI to get back from his long lunch. I live in an area with effectively zero public charging infrastructure, and I find myself grateful that it's trained me to treat opportunity charging as an undependable luxury. I keep reading about what's going on in California and other places where there are just enough chargers to make you think you could count on them, and it's discouraging.

This has made me an advocate of paying for use of public chargers, and probably paying more than they're "worth." I'd say ericNdfw and Joule Thief (there's a telling handle) have made it pretty clear why free charging stations won't work as EVs go beyond the early enthusiast community (we'll just skip over the guy that wants to punch you out for unplugging him). So thanks for drawing the line under all that for us, guys. For those who still think public charging should be free, let me spell out why these fellows make a pretty strong case for pricing chargers high enough to encourage BEVs to charge at home, and PHEVs to spin up their REs.

----

"The reason most people buy Volt's is because they want an EV without the range anxiety, striving to never use the ICE unless required. If you are regularly, "needing that charge to get home", then I would say you bought the wrong car. (I say that sympathetically, not spitefully, as I would hate to be in that condition... which is why I have a range-extended EV Volt and not a Leaf or Spark.)"

Why on earth would you assume this is only a problem for a BEVer if they REGULARLY need a charge to get home? That's the whole point - the public charger is a traveler's emergency aid, not a routine convenience. Unless of course, you're a PHEV - then it's ONLY a convenience.

What makes this so poisonous is "I would say you bought the wrong car." That's it in a nutshell - a PHEV driver actively arguing AGAINST others buying a BEV. Perfect. And if we're going there, think about it the other way - if you regularly need to use a public charger to operate in EV mode as much as you'd like, then I would say YOU bought the wrong car.

----

"It's frustrating enough to get ICEd, but it's worse when a fellow EVer treats you with such disrespect because they don't think your car is EV enough by their standard."

You think that's worse? How about an emergency taking your BEV a bit out of range and finding the only available charger in a 5-mile radius blocked by a couple of Volts while their drivers do a little back-to-school shopping? Might you concede that THAT'S worse?

But back to your personal trauma. Let's see - so you were only unplugged because that snooty BEVer wanted to put you in your place, is that it? Right - I'm sure it had nothing to do with wanting to get home after that emergency run to the vet with a sick family pet. Not a problem - since you didn't put a permission slip in your window, we'll just sit here with the crying kids while you save that critical $1.25; no sense being snobs about it.

----

"The fact that I chose to buy a vehicle with a gas range extender and you chose to buy one without does not give you any more right to a public charge station than I."

Oh, proudly put, good sir. Yes, of course - this is all about "rights" to be asserted and defended. Your "right" to drive around for free is no less important than his "right" to get home in time for dinner - who are we to differ? So nothing to do with appropriate allocation of scarce resources - my confusion there. Then again, I'm gonna guess if we were discussing your "right" to plug in at a higher cost than burning some gas, you might be defending it with a bit less enthusiasm.

When it comes to maximizing ratio of miles driven in EV mode, it comes down to the old bacon and eggs breakfast analogy. To produce the desired result, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed. BEVs are pigs. PHEVs are chickens. Sorry but that's the way it is. ;-)

----

"You also don't know if the PHEV has enough gas in it or not to make their next destination, perhaps their tank is empty."

And I'm sure the charging station where it sits is many miles from the nearest gas station - wait, WHAT??!! Sheesh - talk about not passing the laugh test.

-------------------

Look, I get it - self-interested parties can rationalize just about anything, which is why etiquette's pretty good for managing greetings and silverware placement, but not so much, say, real estate. Instead, we have markets where constrained goods and services are priced to drive efficient allocation. It's a counterintuitive result, but as long as PHEV owners think it's okay to pretend they're BEVs with unusually short ranges instead of HEVs with big batteries, higher pricing may be the only way for the public charging infrastructure to encourage the maximum ratio of E-driving, in part by encouraging BEV sales. BEVs still won't be right for many households, but there could be many folks on the edge who'd be reassured by the availability of public charging.

· · 1 year ago

@Vike - wow... well done.

· · 1 year ago

Vike

As you were kind enough to go point by point, I'll do the same.

"I was and remain a supporter of the Volt and the technogy it brings to the market (my next car will be a PHEV, though one with more cargo space than the current Volt), but it bugs me that the PHEV, once seen as a helpful bridge to longer-range faster-charging BEVs (whenever they may show up), is emerging as an obstacle to making full use of the affordable BEVs we have today. BEVs never burn gas and travel lots further per charge, but if potential buyers notice public charging stations invariably tied up by Volts and Prii, they'll less likely risk getting a car that might leave them stuck in a parking lot waiting for Mr. PPI to get back from his long lunch."

I know BEV fans like to think PHEVs are nothing more than a temporary bridge to pure electrics. Well, there are many of us who don't see it that way. I see PHEVs as a much more practical solution for the vast majority of us today. The idea that you can do most day to day driving all electric and still take longer trips without range anxiety using existing infrastructure makes sense for a great many. If we forgot about pure EVs for a moment and just imagined if 75% of the population were driving PHEVs, that would eliminate much of our gas consumption. And if, as a BEV proponent, your goal is not to burn gas, then consider that every time you unplug a PHEV you're forcing them to in which case it may as well be you driving the ICE. PHEVs and EREVs will be a large part of the EV mix for many years to come, so get used to them. The notion that they are somehow inferior "chickens" as you put it and should get treated like 2nd class citizens at charge stations just won't work. We all have a shared goal of driving EV as much as possible. And not all of us take extra long lunches with no consideration for fellow EVers.

----

"This has made me an advocate of paying for use of public chargers, and probably paying more than they're "worth." I'd say ericNdfw and Joule Thief (there's a telling handle) have made it pretty clear why free charging stations won't work as EVs go beyond the early enthusiast community"

Couldn't agree more about paid charging. But don't let the handle fool you, I'm not the one going around unplugging others.

----

"You think that's worse? How about an emergency taking your BEV a bit out of range and finding the only available charger in a 5-mile radius blocked by a couple of Volts while their drivers do a little back-to-school shopping? Might you concede that THAT'S worse?

But back to your personal trauma. Let's see - so you were only unplugged because that snooty BEVer wanted to put you in your place, is that it? Right - I'm sure it had nothing to do with wanting to get home after that emergency run to the vet with a sick family pet. Not a problem - since you didn't put a permission slip in your window, we'll just sit here with the crying kids while you save that critical $1.25; no sense being snobs about it."

Personal trauma? Hardly. Yes I will concede your scenario is worse. Unfortunately, what I often read and hear from BEV drivers is a general attitude towards PHEV drivers that they should ALWAYS get priority. An emergency situation is one thing. Poor planning is another. There seem to be a large percentage of the BEV folks who feel PHEVs shouldn't get to use public charge stations at all. And that anytime they see one, then they should have the right to unplug them just because.

Funny thing, I just got unplugged tonight at the movies with my wife (this is number 4). Yep, another Leaf. Do you think he had to make an emergency run to dinner and a movie at 9:30pm? Or is it more likely he just showed up expecting a charge and decided hey, that Volt doesn't need to charge so I'll unplug him? It's not the emergency situation I take issue with, it's the entitlement mentality by some (not all) BEV owners.

----

"Oh, proudly put, good sir. Yes, of course - this is all about "rights" to be asserted and defended. Your "right" to drive around for free is no less important than his "right" to get home in time for dinner - who are we to differ? So nothing to do with appropriate allocation of scarce resources - my confusion there. Then again, I'm gonna guess if we were discussing your "right" to plug in at a higher cost than burning some gas, you might be defending it with a bit less enthusiasm."

Who said anything about free? All the stations around here are Blinks. And for the record, if you compare Blink's rates against Phoenix gas prices, I AM paying more for the electricity than I would for gas. So my enthusiasm stands. I do make it a priority to use as little gas as possible, and I don't mind paying more at a public station to avoid running the ICE. If you have a problem with using the term "right", perhaps you should take that up with the author here. Read rule 6 again.

----

"When it comes to maximizing ratio of miles driven in EV mode, it comes down to the old bacon and eggs breakfast analogy. To produce the desired result, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed. BEVs are pigs. PHEVs are chickens. Sorry but that's the way it is. ;-)"

Nice analogy, I'll keep that in mind. Did you know Volt owners hit 100 million EV miles before Leaf owners? And, as of this writing, Volt owners have logged 228,783,255 EV miles on the road (http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car.html). Leaf drivers 249,687,946 (http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/savings-calculator-summary/27795). Seems pretty close to me. So if we're going to use an EV miles ratio to allocate resources, I will concede Leaf owners should get priority over Volts 2% of the time :-)

----

"And I'm sure the charging station where it sits is many miles from the nearest gas station - wait, WHAT??!! Sheesh - talk about not passing the laugh test."

Again, the point is the BEV driver shouldn't be the one that gets to make that decision for the PHEV driver if the PHEV driver was there first. I'm not talking about the emergency scenario here, I'm talking about a typical situation where both cars want to use the station, but one was there first.

-------------------

"Look, I get it - self-interested parties can rationalize just about anything, which is why etiquette's pretty good for managing greetings and silverware placement, but not so much, say, real estate. Instead, we have markets where constrained goods and services are priced to drive efficient allocation. It's a counterintuitive result, but as long as PHEV owners think it's okay to pretend they're BEVs with unusually short ranges instead of HEVs with big batteries, higher pricing may be the only way for the public charging infrastructure to encourage the maximum ratio of E-driving, in part by encouraging BEV sales. BEVs still won't be right for many households, but there could be many folks on the edge who'd be reassured by the availability of public charging."

I would argue the self-interested party is the one who thinks they can unplug someone else because of the car they drive. I've never unplugged a fellow EV and I'm all for plug sharing. I helped establish etiquette at my workplace for plug sharing and frequently would plug in other EVs waiting in queue. Your position that PHEVs are just "pretending" to be BEVs and your chicken/pig comment underscores the real issue at hand which is that BEVs simply look down on PHEVs as not worthy in their view. We need to encourage all plug-in sales, not just BEVs. And public charging is for everyone to share.

· · 1 year ago

@Joule Thief: I am indeed concerned with PHEVs tying up public chargers to such an extent that it undermines efforts to promote BEVs. There is some evidence that this is happening, but it's early days all around, so we'll see. But I should be very clear on one point - I am not suggesting it's okay for BEV drivers to unplug PHEVs when the mood takes them or for their own petty convenience, so to the extent you're trying to hang that idea around my neck, you're arguing with a straw man of your own construction. I don't like the idea of any car being unplugged by anyone but its owner, ever (btw, I also consider this article's suggestion of asking someone else to plug you in quite naive - as noted elsewhere here, leaving one's charge port open seems an invitation to mischief). Especially if you're in an area where most chargers are paid (the few around me are not), that would be especially unjustified if it amounted to theft, i.e., you paying for someone else's charge just because they move the cord. At least one of your original comments ("Especially when it's a charge I'm paying for") implied that could be the case (though that might be interpreted differently). In practice, I assume Blink has a way to prevent that (e.g., charging session ends with disconnect), but I'm not experienced with the service. I hope it was clear that my central theme, laid out in my opening comments and not quite relevant to your impassioned advocacy for PHEVs, was about why free public charging was not going to work out. (So to "Who said anything about free?" I answer, "Why, I did. Didn't you notice?") There's a different problem with paid charging, but back to that in a minute.

I'll say again, I really like the idea of PHEVs as a useful tool for broader electrification, and I mentioned in passing earlier that my next car will be a PHEV (I can't get by with 2 BEVs, but I could operate the PHEV largely on battery). I checked out the Volt and its trunk is too small to serve for our "big" road trip car, and the C-Max Energi is marginal, so it will likely be a PriusPI (or maybe an Outlander PHEV if I can convince my wife to drive a "truck" for the sake of better EV range). And once I have that PHEV, my BEV experience will have led me to follow a rather different set of rules for publicly charging my PHEV, rules that should mean my PHEV would NEVER HAVE TO BE UNPLUGGED by anybody else, to wit:

#1: Never unplug anybody, ever, period. I obviously never need to, so doing so would be a pure jerk move.

#2: Never use a public charger if I have even the slightest chance of making it home in EV mode. (Okay, if there are ten slots and only three are occupied, who cares? For BEV drivers eyeing public chargers, btw, I think a variant of this applies, i.e., "if I know darn well I'm going to make it home without further charging.")

#3: Never take the last/only charging station. If the Fusion Energi behind me grabs it, I don't care - let him be the jerk. I don't need to pretend I'm driving a BEV that badly.

#4: Never grab a public charger when I'm unlikely to return before my battery's topped off. So restaurant or grocery store, fine. Day trip to the outlet mall or an afternoon at the cineplex, not so much.

#5: Never pay to use a public charger. If there's a meter on it, it's not being offered as an amenity or come-on -- there's probably some demand or need for it, and the need is obviously not mine. (More on this below).

#6: Never ignore an approaching BEV while walking away from my charging PHEV (if I abide by rule #3, this should only be an issue if someone else happens to pull into the last remaining charging slot). I will stop and gesture to ask if they need to charge. If I first spot horror or soul-crushing disappointment in their eyes, I probably won't even bother asking - I'll just move.

In fairness, I'd acknowledge that rule #6 is pretty inconvenient, and may go by the wayside if/when BEV populations increase. If there are that many of 'em buzzing around and public chargers are in regular usage, I might just stop using public chargers for my PHEV altogether unless there happen to be plenty open.

Rule #5 is one that I know will rub you very much the wrong way, but I should emphasize that it's MY rule for ME -- I certainly don't think it's a matter of etiquette. My whole point in wanting chargers to be paid is to remove the "free lunch" temptation from PHEV and BEV drivers alike. The Volt driver who buys a Blink card and increases his operating costs just because he enjoys the EV driving experience is someone making a reasoned choice based on his/her priorities and the fair(ish) pricing of the resources used. I don't think there are enough such drivers to be any threat to the sort of highly available charging infrastructure that would make BEVs practical for more drivers, but time will tell. One sad possibility is that there's just no mechanism, pricing scheme or otherwise, to fairly balance use of chargers in a society that's more libertarian than communitarian in its thinking - I do hope that's not the case.

But really, loath though I am to belabor the obvious, it does seem from all you've said that I MUST, so let me get to it. When I consider my needs as a PHEV driver against those of the BEV driver, it all comes down to one basic reality - if the guy in the BEV runs out his battery, it's tow truck time. Did he have an emergency? Was he distracted? Is he the kind of idiot that runs out of gas (y'know, like the PHEV driver in your own example, the one who inexplicably spent his last precious pint of fuel searching for a public charger instead of pulling into one of the eight gas stations he drove past)? Who cares? The bottom line is that he's not getting home under his own power. Story over, roll credits - and that is HUGE. If I run out the battery in my PHEV, yes, I am forced to burn some of the gasoline I bought, and might even have to buy some more. But let's be honest, folks . . .

. . . I will not be stranded.

. . . I will not go broke.

. . . I will not devastate the environment.

There's just no comparison in the consequences for the two scenarios. We're back to pigs and chickens here, and I do think you've missed the point of that. For me as a PHEV driver, maximizing EV miles and avoiding ICE use is a game, for whatever stakes one might care to claim - but for the BEV, EV miles are the only miles there are, no "claims" about it. This is what I mean when I refer to "pretending" to be a BEV.

In that context, standing on my God-given right to plug my PHEV in to a public charger, proudly proclaiming "You have no right to unplug my PHEV unless I give you permission!", well, that's basically saying, "Hey, first come, first serve, pal. Too bad you got a battery-only losermobile and are stuck here waiting until I finish my latte, but it is NOT my problem that you didn't have the foresight to invest in an awesome parallel ICE drivetrain instead of your big batteries. I wouldn't have a problem if I were in your shoes, cuz I could just spin up my range extender and go, so all I can say is it sucks to be you."

You might be presenting your argument more eloquently than that, armed with statistics and sales figures that you seem to think are relevant, but it amounts to the same thing. Saying that BEVs need to wait their turn for a charge they actually need in order to fulfill the green dreams of a PHEV driver who wants to pout about his rights isn't even close to reasonable. Saying that people who call you on that "simply look down on PHEVs as not worthy" might be a salve to your conscience and/or ego, but it's a lame distraction from the hard truth of the matter -- this isn't about status, it's about that "sharing" word you mentioned. I'm sorry I don't have sufficient diplomatic skills to phrase all this more palatably, but it just strikes me as glaringly obvious.

· · 1 year ago

Because my earlier reply had gotten SO long, I thought I'd write up this OTHER long reply as a separate item, since it's pretty self-contained.

Joule Thief writes:

----
Funny thing, I just got unplugged tonight at the movies with my wife (this is number 4). Yep, another Leaf. Do you think he had to make an emergency run to dinner and a movie at 9:30pm? Or is it more likely he just showed up expecting a charge and decided hey, that Volt doesn't need to charge so I'll unplug him? It's not the emergency situation I take issue with, it's the entitlement mentality by some (not all) BEV owners.
----

Now let's think about this, because there are two very different scenarios consistent with these facts, and one of them is something we should be thinking hard about both as individual EV owners and as a community.

First, let's note the cardinal sin that JT reports here - "he just showed up expecting a charge". This is the core problem, isn't it? Because the unplugging and commandeering, etc., all the terrible things that are so wounding to JT, of necessity flow from this event -- a BEV driver arriving at a known charging location he thought he could use and finding a Volt hooked up to it. And JT makes a really neat move in his choice of words here, since the phrase "expecting a charge" skirts the inconvenient reality that this driver likely showed up NEEDING a charge, EXPECTING to find a charger, and FINDING it hooked up to a Volt.

JT makes light of anyone needing to make "an emergency run to dinner and a movie" - that's cute. This does raise a legitimate issue involving that "thinking hard" thing I mentioned earlier, but we'll get to that later -- right now, let's just ponder JT's assumption that nobody parking at a movie theater has any right to plead exigent circumstances. Obviously, that *might* have been the nearest available charger for someone who had to do some unexpected travel, and/or they might have chosen a location where they could find something to do while waiting to draw enough power to continue with the evening's travel (you could do worse than taking in a movie). But let me admit that that's a less likely scenario than that of someone who did leave the house with the intention of going to this theater. Does this necessarily mean they committed the unpardonable sin of "expecting a charge"? I don't think so. Consider this boring story:

"So I go to pick up Juliet for our date, but her roommate's having car trouble and wondering if there's any way we could drop her off at her brother's place. We have time, but I might not have the range to get home if we add that side trip. Fortunately, I know there are chargers at the Cineplex, and I know three hours of charging while we watch the movie will be plenty to get me back, so I say sure. Thing is, when we get there, all four chargers are in use. I notice the car on the end's a Volt, who I know won't be left stuck here all night, so I park next to it, unplug it, and plug in my car."

I'd say in this situation, Romeo should leave a quick note on JT's Volt apologizing for swiping the charger and explaining he couldn't get home without a charge. If the Leaf owner didn't do that, it's rude, but we don't know all the circumstances -- notes take time, and the situation is pretty much self-evident. My question to JT is whether or not that note would make any difference to him anyway, assuming it didn't include the whole roommate story. Judging from his comments so far, I think JT would still feel wronged, because the facts leave open the possibility that Romeo is one of those guys "expecting a charge" (the foundational sin, let us recall). And maybe I'm being too generous with JT's goodwill. After all, if counting on finding a public charger is a crime against nature, one could argue that the WHOLE STORY wouldn't be good enough, because:

- You shouldn't help the roommate if you don't have enough range to add that side trip.

- If you help the roommate, you should just go back to Juliet's place and watch a DVD.

And this gets me to the second point, the thing we need to think hard about as an EV community. Is embarking on a trip that you know you can't finish without the use of a public charger somehow morally wrong? (I'm going to expose my lack of BEV partisanship here by noting that I think under current circumstances that behavior is at least reckless, and I am very uncomfortable with people considering a BEV purchase with the assumption that they can count on "opportunity charging" -- but that's just me.) The entire "it's wrong for BEV to unplug PHEV because BEV has no more right to charge than PHEV does" argument seems to be premised on asserting this very thing -- I don't see how you avoid that implication.

Romeo obviously did this when he chose to help out the roommate and then go on with Juliet to the Cineplex, though perhaps one could argue that was just enough of an emergency to pass some "test" that would satisfy JT. But now let's remove the roommate sub-plot. What if going to Juliet's, on to the Cineplex, back to Juliet's, and finally home was BY ITSELF not comfortably within the range of Romeo's LEAF? Would he have been wrong to plan such a trip THEN, counting on the use of the Cineplex charging station?

Thing is, if the answer to that question gets anywhere close to YES, it means . . .

. . . if you leave the house in your BEV knowing you won't get back if you don't find an open charger somewhere along the way, you're a reckless jerk, SO . . .

. . . there's really no good reason for any BEV to be using a public charger unless there was some kind of emergency, since they normally wouldn't embark on a trip without plenty of range to complete it, SO . . .

. . . the only people entitled to routine use of public chargers are PHEV drivers, because they're not reckless jerks (they can always get home on gas) and they're helping the planet (because if they didn't use the charger, they'd be burning that gas).

I really hope PHEV owners aren't reading that and going "Yeah, exactly." But when you line up all the tiles on the board, that's what it spells out.

· · 1 year ago

Brad, thank you very much for this piece. Whereas I was originally somewhat ambivalent about the shared-use of charging stations, having now been VOLTed and PIPed when my BEV really NEEDED a charge, I'm in full support vike1108's stance and arguments. Nevertheless, we all should be able to co-exist, and let's all display our contact information whenever we're at a public charging spot and really try to move our cars out of the way when we have sufficient charge to get to our destination. Regarding Rule #7, I have a small placard made up (haven't used it yet) to notify the PHEV (or charged BEV) that I had unplugged them - this will hopefully also prevent their getting a ticket for being unplugged and parked in that spot. BTW, what term should we use when ICEd by a TeslaS that wasn't even plugged in (happened to me at SFO a couple of nights ago)?

· · 1 year ago

In fairness to Joule Thief, I think we were both deliberately talking past each other, at least a bit. While I did say "I am not suggesting it's okay for BEV drivers to unplug PHEVs when the mood takes them or for their own petty convenience", I must admit this was not the focus of my comments. If I understand JT's strongest objection, it's that some BEV drivers view pulling the plug from a PHEV as no different from grabbing it off the charging post, because they think PHEVs have no right to use a resource "intended" for BEVs. When this is done just to "top off" along a trip that can easily be completed entirely within the BEV's current SOC, that's what I mean by "petty convenience," and I agree that there's no excuse for that.

Similarly, I think we're in agreement that reasonable plug-sharing etiquette allows for a BEV to unplug a PHEV when the BEV has been traveling on an emergency errand/task and needs a charge to get to its next destination (e.g., home), preferably with an explanatory note left behind (and if the BEV leaves before the PHEV owner returns, please plug the PHEV back in if that's possible).

The none-too-subtle point on which I think we differ involves the "in between" case - a BEV leaving home on a journey that cannot be successfully completed without some amount of "opportunity charging." JT describes this as "poor planning," and while I understand that, I'm pretty sure many BEV owners would describe that as "planning." Both would agree that the driver is heading out "expecting a charge," but JT considers that an act of arrogant presumption. In his view, what he calls a BEV driver's poor planning doesn't entitle that driver to unplug a PHEV, because the BEV has no right to "expect" a charge.

I don't think these problems are really resolvable when chargers are free or complimentary for guests or patrons, so I don't think it is reasonable for anyone, PHEV or BEV, to count on having access to such chargers. But I can see now that I made a mistake in assuming that pricing would address the issue, because there are green-minded PHEV drivers like JT who are willing to pay more per mile to avoid burning gasoline. Given that PHEVs typically have much shorter EV ranges, such drivers will likely spend more time on public chargers than BEV drivers with similar driving patterns.

What I'd like everyone to do is think hard about how all this will "scale out" if EVs sell in increasing numbers, as I'm sure we all hope. It will help if everybody refrains from public charging unless it's really needed. For PHEVs, as noted earlier, I think that means that public chargers should be avoided if the planned itinerary will LIKELY be completed gas-free with the current state of charge. For BEVs, it means that public chargers should not be used when on an itinerary that is CERTAIN to be completed with the current SOC (a different standard, but I hope it's a difference we can all understand). PHEVs have every right to use public chargers and should be encouraged to do so if it's to avoid a certainty of burning gasoline; denying them this right is to treat them as "second class EVs" in exactly the way JT criticizes.

But BEVs also have a right to plan trips that depend on the use of public charging infrastructure, even if this means occasionally interrupting PHEV charging sessions to avoid unreasonable delays. JT seems unwilling to grant this point when he says "The fact that I chose to buy a vehicle with a gas range extender and you chose to buy one without does not give you any more right to a public charge station than I," but I think he needs to understand that failing to do so is to relegate BEVs to the same "second class" status he objects to for PHEVs; expecting a little deference on access to chargers (by both PHEVs and those BEVs that have a reasonable option of charging at home) may be the only way such longer trips could even be considered.

· · 1 year ago

My two cents... Last week I took delivery of a Zero motorcycle out here in Southern California, and in doing so became a member of the "100% EV" club.

I agree with most of these rules, except for #6 when dealing with FREE public stations. I believe PZEVs are second in line to an all-electric EV, always.

The argument suggested by some of "call a tow truck if you can't make it home" is crazy to me, and I am one of the people who will pull a charger from a Volt to charge an all-electric in the event I need power to make it home. In my opinion, there is no guarantee for any free public charger. The concept of "entitlement" is foreign in that nobody "owns" a public free charger simply because they "got there first". Someone once made an argument that Volt owners don't keep much gas in their tanks, so you could be leaving them without a means to get home. In this unlikely case, I have to ask why anyone would put yourself in that situation? Gas remains good for a full year, easy. Even in this unlikely case, a PZEV owner can likely get to a nearby gas station without being stranded, whereas a 100% EV cannot.

I would of course wait in line if, for instance, a Leaf was charging. There is no reason my EV "beats out" another EV. Hopefully, they remembered to leave a dashboard note that says when they can be unplugged...

Paid chargers like Chargepoint/Blink are obviously another story altogether, and are first-come-first-serve, unless a negotiation can take place.

I'm not evil for stating this, I just don't understand why PZEV drivers think they should be treated equal to BEV drivers that have no other option? It seems clear to me this article was likely written by someone driving a plugin hybrid..., and who has probably been unplugged a few times.

In the coming years, I'm sure this will get worked out. For now, leave a nice note.

· · 29 weeks ago

Priorities of what vehicle has priority to recharge seems obvious, a Volt has a charging unit with it wherever it travels. Cars like a Leaf or SMART do not have the ability to be recharged with an onboard Gas Generator. With that said, I would never have an issue with anyone unplugging my Volt from the charging unit if they have a full electric vehicle that obviously has no other choice for refueling. I think it is extremely rude and absurd for owners of any plugin hybrid vehicle to be upset at someone that absolutely 100% NEEDS to recharge their batteries by plugging into an EV charging unit. Currently there are not enough EV charging stations in many cities whereas there are plenty of gas stations to choose from in EVERY city across the country. Funny enough I asked my kids and some of their friends about what they thought about this dilemma. Well it turns out that even small children seem to grasp the idea of which vehicle should get priority when presented with the charging priority dilemma. They all thought that the EV only without a gas generator should have priority. In fact some of them even said that the Volt probably never should be allowed to plug into the public charging stations at all.

· · 29 weeks ago

There are a few of the LA Metro lots that have charging stations. I commute from home to the Metro Lot and then take the Metro in to downtown LA where I work. I do this for 3 reasons - my employer provides a transit benefit that pays for my monthly pass, parking at he metro lot is free for riders, and there are four charge station available that you must enroll and pay to use (I have more charge station FOBS than I do keys). Here my dilemma - I park at charge station at 0600 and I don't return until 1600. My train ride is 20 minutes which makes it impossible for me to return to unplug and move my car. I've never received a nasty note and there are always spots at the charge station available when I return. I do need to charge in order to make my commute home in the afternoon. Am I violating EV charge station etiquette and if so what is the alternative?

· · 29 weeks ago

I should clarify the my train ride is 20 minutes one way.

· · 26 weeks ago

How about a credit card based honor system? Anything beyond say 2 hour max charging time limit would be charged 5 dollars(in 15 minute increments).Similar to a regular parking meter,this might light a fire under someone unwilling to move their vehicle otherwise yet still allowing ample time for their vehicle to charge as well as others. Human nature being what it is(courtesy notes and all),there will always be somebody homesteading at these sites with a complete disregard for anyone else.This would hopefully keep everyone honest. A strip in the parking space asphalt or motion sensor detecting vehicle parked there would need to incorporated so that a vehicle couldn't be unplugged then just park there for hours afterwards. A timer only based unit could also work and anyone parked beyond said time limit would be cited and fined just like parking illegally in a handicapped spot.

· · 7 weeks ago

As a plug-in Prius owner, after reading this thread and vike1108's very persuasive prose, I'm moved to put a sign/note near my charge port stating something to the effect of "battery-only EVs may unplug if they require a charge to get to their next destination." As a PHEV'er, I realize I'm a lower priority for a charge than a BEV who *requires* a charge to complete their journey.

I was debating between the Leaf and the Prius PI as a daily commuter, but my 45 mile commute *requires* that I get a charge at one of the free charging stations in my company's garage (three spots with two chargers). I'm curious if folks think it would have been "poor planning" on my part to buy a BEV/Leaf knowing that I'm required to charge up (at least partially) to get home. If it is poor planning, then what's the point of charging stations in company parking garages?

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