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EV-iquette: Polite User Recharging Rules

By Evelyn Kanter, March 8th, 2014

Plug-ins cars are becoming more mainstream as municipalities from San Diego to New York City, along with stores like Walgreen, are installing charging stations in public places and parking lots, we've should learn to play nice and share.

Manufacturer photo: Driver recharges his EV at Walgreen store charge unit.
Manufacturer photo: Driver recharges his EV at Walgreen store charge unit.

The Electric Vehicle version of spam is parking your gasoline-drinking car in a spot where there's an EV charger, or leaving your electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle parked in that space long after you've juiced up. Call it "EV-iquette."

Even though 95 percent of owners of plug-ins recharge overnight at home, there are times when public charging is necessary.

-- Leave EV spots for EVs. Drivers of gasoline engine vehicles should honor the sign that says "Parking for EVs" or similar, just as they would honor spaces reserved for handicapped. Recently, at a transportation museum in Virginia, I was photographing an EV charger parking spot when an driver of an SUV honked at me to move so he could get into the space. When I pointed out the space was marked as reserved for EVs, the driver shrugged his shoulders, parked and walked away.

-- Don't be a Juice Hog. EV-iquette means to charge only when necessary and leave when you are done so somebody else can have a turn. Hogging a space to top off your range could be denying the plug to somebody whose range is low enough to cause real anxiety -- range or otherwise.

Manufacturer photo: Driver recharges his EV at Walgreen store charge unit.

-- Don't unplug other EVs without permission. It's okay to park alongside another EV which is charging, and leave a note for that owner to plug your car in after his/her session is done. But don't unplug the other guy, even if you notice the other vehicle has completed the charging cycle.

-- Plug-in drivers often include a cellphone number or where they are, such as "I'm shopping and can be out in two minutes to switch plugs with you." It's the EV version of "pay it forward."

-- Practice safe charging. Wind up the cord when you are done, so nobody trips over it or drives over it.

Plug In America offers two free EV dashboard cards you can download and print: the green one says "okay to unplug", the red one says "charge needed." Both cards have a space to add your mobile phone number.

Chargepoint America has introduced a reservation system for chargers in more popular locations, and Ford apps for its plug-ins have maps of the nearest charging locations and wait times.

More than 160,000 electrified vehicles have been sold in the U.S. from all-electrics, such as the Nissan Leaf to plug-ins like the Volt and Toyota Prius PHEV. The prevalence of EVS is sure to increase with new models entering the marketplace, including the BMW i3 and Honda Accord.

The Department of Energy lists more than 6,500 public charging stations in the U.S. While that number is growing -- especially the number of Level 3 fast chargers that can recharge a vehicle in 30 minutes -- there always will be more plug-in cars than chargers, just as there are more vehicles than parking spaces in any city. New York City or San Francisco. The best way to avoid EV charger range rage is to mind your EV-iquette.

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