Road Warrior is beginning to hear about the unusual “courtesy” electric vehicle drivers afford each other when it comes time to visit a charging station.  Here’s what one reader had to say:

“It is not a courtesy but a curse. Some EV drivers unplug an unattended car and then plug in their own. This has happened to me twice.  It’s a big annoyance and hard to control or police.

“My wife was so upset that someone did this to us that she unplugged the other vehicle as we left. Not a good response, but this is an emerging issue, especially when you want to plug in at a parking lot and the charging stations are all in use. It is easy to tell if a car is charging or has stopped charging; I suspect most are still charging when they’re unplugged.”

It’s a common complaint, so common that Plugincars.com has developed an etiquette guide that includes a few obvious rules along with a few eye-openers.

For example, it’s never acceptable for a gas powered car to park in an EV charging spot, although it happens enough to earn a nickname (spots are ICEd if they’re blocked by an internal combustion engine).

More interesting is the discussion about hierarchy of need. If you just want to top off the tank of your hybrid vehicle, is it more important to let the battery-powered Leaf have the plug-in spot?  Some say it’s more polite to recharge only when you need it, along with leaving a note saying when you’ll be done or, if you’re the one waiting in line, leaving a note on the windshield asking to be plugged in when their battery is full.

Read the full etiquette guide HERE or a lively online conversation about it on Green Car Reports.



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  1. Anthony Angry

    Story framing is important. If this was about conventional power sources, like a gas pump, the headline would be more along the lines of: Supply Falls Short of Demand, Drivers Forced to Share Pumps!

    July 31st, 2013 10:00 am

  2. Ken

    Car designers should have seen this coming a mile away. It’s like locking gas caps. Now I haven’t seen the plugs up close and personal, but the sockets on the cars should be designed to “grasp” the plugs so they may not be pulled out until the charge is complete or the correct code or a key has been inserted to unlock the plug if the charge is incomplete. Jeeze, problem solved. There’s my get rich gift to the world.

    July 31st, 2013 10:28 am

  3. Chris

    Some car’s have alarms that go off when the cord is pulled (my Chevy Volt is one) but since I can run on gas or electric I don’t mind if a pure EV driver unplugs me. What irks me is when somebody leaves thier car plugged in after it is done charging. The vehcile should only be plugged in at a public space when you are charging.

    July 31st, 2013 10:42 am

  4. Jennifer

    Are they paying for the charging time or is this “free”?

    July 31st, 2013 10:58 am

  5. Chris Cambigue

    I would be furious if someone did this to me, stranding me or worse, what if I need to rush home because my kid is hurt or my house is on fire? Try driving your fully charged vehicle home on 4 slashed tires and no windshield, jerks.

    July 31st, 2013 11:00 am

  6. Robert Betancourt Junior

    I have been trying for four years to put in an Urban Green Energy “Sanya Light Pump” which is a 5 Kilowatt vertical axis wind turbine that is bird friendly, an LED street Lamp and a General Electric 240 VDC fast charger for a cost of $30,000 with a $5000 installation fee. Yes there is an eighty per cent grant for each one through CAL START 55 Chestnut Avenue Pasadena California or through Alternate Fuels Data Center. However, the grant funding is defunded by John Boehner/ Ken Calvert/Paul Ryan/ John McCain who get their funds from OIL. China likes them well and they bought ZAP and moved it from Santa Rosa to Beijing. Now you know the rest of the story.

    July 31st, 2013 11:59 am

  7. Skippy

    Of course, one could always buy a real car rather than an expensive finicky toy. One that offers the independence Americans used to demand and expect from a vehicle.

    July 31st, 2013 12:03 pm

  8. Volt Guy

    Pretty much what the first Chris said. Also leaving the cord theft alarm turned on will cause the car to alarm if unplugged even when it is fully charged. So it is best to only turn that on when charging at home.

    The real problem is that there are too few public charging stations.

    As to Jennifer’s question on cost, it varies by city and charging station. All the charging stations I’ve seen in SF have been free, but are in pay lots, so if you are paying to park you get free charging. The stations in Sebastopol are free. If the cost is over $1 an hour, gas is cheaper (it takes about 4 hours to fully charge a Volt, which gives 38-40 miles of range. I get 45-50/mpg on pure gas). I’ve seen charge stations in East bay that charge by the KWH, usually around 15 cents per, which gives a full charge on a Volt for about $1.50. I’ve seen some stations that charge $2/hour, which is a total rip-off, but they are always available.

    The most annoying thing? Finding a gas car parked in the charging station space. Seen that a few times at the stations in Sebastopol.

    July 31st, 2013 1:42 pm

  9. Sean

    So, wait, are the taxpayers the ones paying for the “free” electric charge?

    July 31st, 2013 2:27 pm

  10. EZ e

    “Of course, one could always buy a real car rather than an expensive finicky toy. One that offers the independence Americans used to demand and expect from a vehicle.”

    I drive a Leaf…
    Independence from oil? check
    Independence from any service besides rotating tires? check

    If you call spending an less than an additional $30/month in electricity an expensive finicky toy, call me guilty.

    Keep your gas/service costs my proud friend, you’ll find me in the HOV lane driving for a fraction of your vehicles operating cost…gladly

    July 31st, 2013 2:54 pm

  11. Joseph

    EV’s are a fad sprout eaters, I keep my big v-8 tuned up all the time and doesn’t cost me anymore then EV vehicles, go sip your wine sprout eaters.

    August 5th, 2013 9:27 pm

  12. Volt Guy

    Really Joseph? With seven months of ownership and 9000 miles on my volt my maintenance cost has been $25 so far (tire rotation). What have been your maintenance costs so far this year? Also I am more a single malt guy, don’t care too much for wine.

    August 6th, 2013 12:39 pm

  13. Joseph

    25? really ? yea sure.

    August 12th, 2013 4:13 pm

  14. Dm

    I would like to know why I have to pay for someone else to travel for free. No one ever bought me any gas.

    August 20th, 2013 6:08 am

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