How Do You Charge Your Electric Car if You Don't Have a Parking Spot?

©. D. Laumer, Philadelphia

Switching to all electric cars in our cities would do wonders for air quality and noise pollution, but in many older cities, a lot of people do not have parking and leave their cars on the street. Then there are those who live in apartments, where the owners or renters do not control the parking garages. This really limits the spread of electric cars in some North American cities and almost every city in Europe.

Tesla has been trying to deal with this problem, and is quoted in in Electrek:

Georg Ell, Tesla’s Director responsible for Western Europe, announced earlier today that he was “seeking existing or prospective Model S or X customers living in apartment blocks with underground parking to trial a new charging solution.”

It is some form of multiple-head version of the charging system that can hook a couple of cars up to a single circuit without blowing the breakers.


© Luxe

Then there is the fancy New York solution, where Tesla owners pay $ 499 per month for a valet service that takes away your car, charges it and parks it for you. This is not going to scale.

In Toronto, a Chevy Volt owner describes his travails in the Star:

To charge his car, Anderson must run an extension cord from the charging station he installed on the lawn of his Riverdale home to a public spot kitty-corner from his house. If the space is full, he has to park in the no-parking zone in front of his house. So far, he said he’s been fined about $300, and he’s worried the cord is a tripping hazard... If a public parking spot near his house if occupied, Todd Anderson has to park in the no-parking zone in front of his house to charge it - and get ticketed.

The city is considering putting in public charging stations, but it would be a few blocks from his house. Anderson hopes for something better: “I don’t think electric vehicle owners want to rely on public charging stations.”


© D. Laumer

A few years back we showed a solution from Philadelphia, where a Volt owner appears to have run a conduit under the sidewalk and put his own charging station at the curb. This is also problematic, since street parking is open to everyone without assigned spaces.

This is a real problem. One could say that the public streets should not be used for the storage of private metal boxes, and that if people want to own a car, then they should rent a parking space in a garage. Or if you live downtown perhaps you should get a bike or take transit. Neither are realistic options for everyone.

Or perhaps we have to start thinking longer term, when the electric cars are all self-driving and shared. Then they can just drive themselves away to somewhere else to get charged.