While electric vehicles may be good for the environment, they aren’t necessarily good for the behavior of people, as some electric vehicle owners are demonstrating rudeness when it comes to finding a charging station.
Unlike gas stations, electric vehicle charging stations are not available in as great of supply. This has led to behavior that many people would consider to be impolite. People in need of a charge have been known to unplug the vehicles of others, insult people and conduct deals and trades on the spot in order to obtain a coveted charging spot.
The problem is not unlike having a lack of power outlets at airports for people to charge their phones or laptops. However, the need can be more pressing with electric vehicles. It could be disastrous to be stranded without enough power to get home.
Owners of electric vehicles have taken their frustrations to social media, and some experts are starting to take notice.
The director of a non-profit electric vehicle organization Maureen Blanc said, “It’s high time for somebody to tackle the electric-vehicle etiquette problem.”
Meanwhile, companies are trying to make a quick buck off of the problem. Google computer Manager Jack Brown created electric vehicle etiquette packs. The packs include hand tags that ask other drivers to not unplug their vehicles. The packs sell for $15.99.
However, the long term solution is to create more public chargers. Nearly half of the 330,000 electric vehicles in the United States are registered in California. By 2025, California Governor Jerry Brown hopes to increase that number to 1.5 million. Brown has promised to provide the state with a substantial increase in electric vehicle charging stations. Current estimates show that there is only one public charger for every ten registered electric vehicles, although this only includes official public charging stations.
While most people charge their vehicles at home, some people are dependent upon public charges due to the limited driving range of their electric vehicles. Some chargers can power up a car completely in just 30 minutes, while others can take more than four hours. Also, some public chargers are free, but others can cost money, often $1 per hour.
Additionally, electric vehicle owners are also upset with owners of traditional gas-powered vehicles that take desirable charging spots. Brown’s etiquette survival kit also has includes a message for owners of non-electric vehicles that taking a desirable charging spot from an electric vehicle owner is inconsiderate.
The competition for electric vehicle charging spots has led to the establishment of an unofficial “hierarchy” to determine who needs a charging station the most. Owners of pure electric vehicles with a limited range and no back-up plan believe that they are the most entitled to a charging station. Next are the plug-in hybrid cars that are able to utilize gasoline when their charge runs out. Then comes Tesla cars, which cost significantly more than most electric cars and supposedly have such an impressive driving range that they don’t need the spots. Finally, at the bottom, are the old-fashioned regular cars that have no need for an electric charging station at all.
At workplaces, some companies have established sign-up sheets for the parking spots with charging stations. Other workers have asked secretaries to inform them if someone is trying to tamper with the charging of their vehicle. Some employees have traded spots to their friends or in exchange for perks at work.
The problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. As more people make the switch to electric vehicles, the demand for spots is only going to grow larger over time. But luckily, more electric vehicle charging spots will be established as well. Once the trend catches on further and more charging locations are created, this behavior will most likely be a funny memory for the most part.