Are electric car drivers becoming mean?

electric car parking spots for charging
CC BY-SA 2.0 Glen Wallace

I've been writing about my experiences with a used Nissan Leaf and I've been dipping my toe into the subculture of electric vehicle drivers and the emerging etiquette surrounding that subculture.

As such, I was interested to see an article in this Sunday's New York Times entitled In California, electric cars outpace plugs, and sparks fly. The gist was this: There are more electric cars on the road, and too few charging points—meaning drivers sometimes have a hard time finding an open spot. More specifically, the article dealt with several levels of frustration:

1) Electric car drivers who take up a dedicated parking spot but aren't using the charger provided—thus depriving another driver of its use. I confess I did this once when parking spots were in short supply. (In my defense, it said "reserved for electric vehicles"—not "reserved for electric vehicle charging"!)

2) Electric car drivers who are done charging, but who don't unplug—again preventing someone else from plugging in.

3) Gas car drivers who park in dedicated electric car spots.

4) Perhaps surprisingly, resentments between different types of electric vehicle drivers—the article claims that drivers of pure electric cars sometimes feel they are more entitled to charging than drivers of plug-in hybrids, because plug-in hybrids have a Plan B option of driving on gas. Furthermore, claims the article—Tesla owners are sometimes singled out for resentment too, because their longer range means they should be better placed to get home without charging.

I must confess I had no idea there was all this bad blood out there. Or is there? We all know that journalists can sometimes seize on an anecdote and turn it into a phenomenon. Have any readers experienced "plug rage"? Do you have thoughts on how to manage these etiquette challenges?

Hopefully as cars get more range and as chargers get more common, many of these issues will just iron themselves out over time. Meanwhile you can buy the EV Etiquette Survival Pack mentioned in the Times article for just $15.99 on Etsy. It includes handy hotel-style hang notices giving permission to unplug your car when charged, and also requesting someone plug yours in when they are done.

Let's just hope some meanie electric car driver doesn't steal your "please charge me" sign.

Tags: Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles

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