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Motor Mouth articles 2014

Charge rage leads to electric car code

415 electric charge rage

WITH new technologies come new problems: the trend towards electric cars is outpacing the installation of plug-in points and the result is being called ‘charge rage’.

Owners of electric vehicles – or EVs – may be spared the business of queuing at the petrol pumps but a general shortage of charging points is apparently sparking angry confrontations.

There are an increasing number of reports of drivers arguing and even coming to blows over plug-in points, sometimes actually unplugging other vehicles to charge their own.

The problem is particularly rife in parts of America where charging points are drastically oversubscribed, all brought about because the infrastructure is lagging far behind the boom in electric cars.

Some owners have reported finding their vehicles unplugged when returning to car parks, with other vehicles jumping the queue and stealing the slot.

Quite how this is done is not clear as most electric vehicles ‘lock in’ their charging cables on both the car side and at the charging point to try and combat this.

It has prompted the website plugincars.com to publish a set of rules governing EV charging etiquette.  

They start by emphasising ‘EV spots are for EVs’; it’s not on for a conventionally powered vehicle to park in a spot designated for a plug-in car, no matter how crowded the car park or how little the charge point is used.

If you encounter a rogue parker in an EV spot, they say, don’t leave a nasty note. A firm but polite message attached to the offender’s windscreen should do the trick. The code also advises EV drivers only to charge when necessary and not simply as a top-up; and move on as soon as the car’s electric power pack is full

If a charging spot you need is being used, and you are able to park next to a car that is currently charging, it’s fine, apparently, to leave a note asking the owner to plug your car in after his session is complete. If you receive such a note, honour the request.

An electric car owner should never unplug another plug-in hybrid or EV – except if that car is finished charging. This is the only time when it is acceptable to do so, states the plug-in car expert site.

Finally the code says you should practise safe charging: this means neatly winding the cord on its holder, and tucking it in so people will not trip on any excess length or drive over it.

So much to learn, then, for the great majority of us for whom filling up with fossil fuel at the petrol pumps seems so straightforward.  

 If it all seems of little relevance while electric cars are still pretty thin on the ground, you can be certain it won’t be like that for long. Shell, no less, say the end of the petrol-engined car is merely a matter of when. 

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