What If There Wasn’t a Handbook For Electric Car Charging?

Saturday 13th June 2015

We have grown up with Electric Vehicles from their early days. We’ve grown up in a tight knit community of enthusiasts that have helped shape the cars we drive and the way that we use them. But, has any one written down the part about how we use them and put that in every new owners hands?

Edison Garage Charging Station
Edison Garage Charging Station

When we first started driving Electric Vehicles almost 6 years ago, there wasn’t that many on the road. The Electric Vehicle owners were all really nice to each other and very excited to have someone to talk with about their Electric Car. Everything was all very exciting and new. There wasn’t much, if any, public charging so most people charged at home and everyone was happy. With the lack of charging infrastructure back then, people stayed within range of their house, relying on 120v charging if they got caught short. While the infrastructure for charging away from home, is increasing, slowly but surely, it hasn’t met the demand – yet. We are now seeing people turning up to a charging location only to find them fully occupied by other Electric Vehicles charging. While this is a good thing as it means that there are more EV’s on the road, it does put EV drivers in a dilemma. The choice is that you can wait for a spot to open up, but as charging an EV can take a few hours, it could be a long wait. Or you could find another charging station or maybe you might chance the drive home and hope for the best.

We spend a lot of time promoting Electric Vehicles, taking them to events and sharing all the fun things about them with non EV people. However, we forget that there is also a need to educate new EV people about their Electric Vehicle. This may sound slightly obnoxious but it isn’t really. We have to remember that, when an EV rolls out of the dealership our work might only be half complete and the one area that seems to stick out the most is that of charging equality.

The old days
The old days!

Remember back when you had a petrol car, how annoying it was when you had to wait to refuel behind a line of other drivers? Well, magnify that by having much slower refueling, by having to refuel more often and by taking away all but a few filling stations and you get the picture! So, we need to educate EV owners on the correct way to behave surrounding charging and we also need to educate non EV owners about the same.

The first thing we need to address is something that I hear about all the time; Electric Vehicle drivers being inconsiderate of others, particularly when it comes to charging, which is such a shame. Now, even though this is only a very small minority, and I mean really, really small, it does touch upon and affect the whole EV community. The examples I see revolve around the debate about who should charge, who get’s priority.

Who gets priority? Answer: Everyone with a plug gets equal priority!

It doesn’t matter if you have a LEAF, a Tesla or a plug in Prius, if you plug in, you save us all from petrol pollution. If that means that an i3 owner has to wait behind a Plug in Prius, that’s okay, they got there first and they won’t be there for long.

How much charge do you get? Answer: Only enough for your needs!

If you’re a Plug in Prius with a tiny battery, don’t hog the charger for the whole day, and that goes for the i3 owner or the Tesla driver – if we only take what we need, we’ll cut petrol usage and make sure the precious charging equipment is free for the next person.

But what if you have a plug in hybrid, surely you have less need than others? Answer: No.

Every car that gets home on electrons instead of petrol is just as valuable as any other.

What if I need a charge to get home and there’s a plug in hybrid using the charger?

Well, that’s good news because that hybrid is going to cut pollution on the way home tonight and, as it only has a small ‘tank’, it won’t be long. It’s at times like this that we need more charging units to be available – That would be the problem, not who’s charging.

All of this boils down to one key rule:

Never block valuable charging equipment if you don’t need it.

It really is as simple as that — Feel free to pick up a free charge in your Electric Car anytime you can, even if you don’t need it but, be ready to move the instant someone else appears, even if that’s just a plug in Prius with a flat battery! Much better for all of us that we all get home on electricity instead of petrol.

Our next big challenge is to convey that message to our new EV friends.