Your Guide To Charging Station Rage, And How To Avoid It

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Charging Cable and Socket

Charging Cable and Socket

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A few weeks ago while borrowing a 2012 Ford Focus Electric, Forbes writer Todd Woody experienced what he described as Electric Car Road Rage: fear and anger associated with unsuccessfully trying to charge an electric car.

It happened while he was at a cafe in downtown Berkeley, California, when the car he was driving was unplugged by another electric car driver who decided his or her need to plug in was far more urgent than Woody's. 

Woody was left feeling agitated, and full of questions about the reality of charging an electric car in the real world. 

We think electric car road rage -- or at least charging station rage -- is a real thing. But how do you cope with it, or avoid it altogether? 

Here’s our guide to the most common situations when you’ll feel charging station rage, along with our top tips on how to avoid it. 

Getting ICEd

A term adopted by most electric car drivers, getting ICEd is when you arrive at a charging station to find an Internal Combustion Engined (ICE) car parked there.

In our experience, the worst offenders are luxury cars and SUVs, but we’ve seen everything from subcompacts to minivans and sports cars park in electric car spaces. 

Local Cop Misuses Orlando Electric Car Charging Station

Local Cop Misuses Orlando Electric Car Charging Station

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In some states, those who violate parking laws by parking a non-electric car in a plug-in space can get themselves a ticket, be towed or even booted. On the other hand, when cops abuse the spaces too, there’s little hope of retribution. 

Even worse, the parking garages where the problem is most pronounced are often privately owned -- and therefore out of jurisdiction of traffic cops.

The parking hog

Almost as frustrating as being ICEd, finding another electric car that has already finished charging blocking your access to a charging station can be infuriating. 

In most situations, you’ll find that the owner returns to his or her car pretty quickly, letting you plug your car in and charge. 

But in some cases -- most noticeably at airport parking garages -- you’ll find electric cars that have been parked and plugged in for weeks, monopolizing much needed charging stations. 

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Comments (19)
  1. Proper planning and installation of EVSEs could help solve some of these problems: How about centering a high ampere station between four parking places with four cords that will reach each position.

    How about a locking clamp on the car's socket; when it is plugged in, it is locked in until the car, when charged, or the driver releases the lock.

  2. The J1772 plug on the adapter that came with my i-MiEV has a release lock:

  3. Never fear - the future public charging situation will be far different than the cats and dogs approach currently used, and practically already obsolete. All of the new battery technologies offer rapid charging, so public chargers will operate very much like gas pumps do today. And there will be lots of them. As usual, most charging will be done at home, where electric prices are, of necessity, much lower. Better
    battery capacities will mean public charging mostly for trips and for those unable to charge where they live.

  4. I would say that another good step is to leave a sort of contact card on your car's dashboard. Whenever I'm using a public charger, I leave a little 'charger FAQ card' on my dashboard, which answers questions about electric cars for those who walk by and see me plugged in *and* also has a way to contact me via Google Voice to check if I can come out and move the car, or whether it's okay to unplug me.

  5. GREAT IDEA !!

  6. Some of these problems could be overcome by inductive charging. It's practical and pretty vandalism and a.hole proof: once your parked over the electric charging plate nobody can come between you and those coveted electrons any more.

    Of course it still might be defective or ICEd or hogged by another EV that long since filled up....

    I doubt there is much future for level 2 charging in public space anyway. A better solution is a dense network of fastchargers strategically placed on spots where nobody wants to loiter too long anyway, like along motorways. What's more: such a network would go a long way in making BEVs more practical so it makes them a more attractive proposition for the consumer.

  7. inductive charging is not vandalism proof. It is extremely dangerous to place any object between to two inductive plates - including your hand, foot, a coin, a cat, a piece of trash, etc. Because of this, the chargers have motion and proximity sensors to shut themselves off if they detect a foreign object under the car. It would be extremely easy to vandalize such a system.

  8. I am still shocked you can unplug a locked car. My Renault Fluence ZE locks the charging cable (at both ends) when you lock the doors.

  9. The J1772 plug used in all modern charging stations has a small hole that fits a luggage lock. I carry one around in the door pocket with my number on it so someone who really needs to charge can just call me for the combo.

  10. I see that this not universally the case: The J1772 plug on the adapter that comes with the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV has a locking hole in the release trigger. It looks like some chargers use J1772 compatible plugs that don't support such locking.

  11. What a brilliant idea. Smart thinking.

  12. That is why I bought a Volt. Something like this won't strand me away from home.

  13. Which is why it is extremely frustrating to find a fully charged Volt or Prius Plug-In Hybrid blocking a charging space.

  14. So GM's worry of "dark" EV owners is finally here. Shouldn't we also have an Universal signs for EVs to have full charge? Also, some EVs use the charger to keep the battery temperature in normal range in extreme weather condition. It won't ok to unplug it even if it is fully charged.

  15. @Xiaolong: It would seem the height of selfishness for an electric-car owner to keep a car plugged into a public charging station indefinitely just to keep the battery at the proper temperature, no?

  16. Let's not count too much on altruism though, all signs indicate it's going to be charge wars out there:

    Anything goes if the alternative is to be stranded...

  17. Here's a link to a picture of the worst ICEing ever. On the way back to Reno from a V2G conference in San Francisco in 2009, we stopped to eat lunch off of I-80 at Dixon only to find this:

  18. ICEing is the worst. There's a Blink charger at a nearby shopping center that is ICE'd nearly 100% of the time. People are terrified of the repercussions of parking in a handicap spot, but apparently they don't give a rip about parking in EV spaces. I don't know what the law states as far as misuse of a EV parking space in CA, but in my experience it's not being enforced. You'd think Blink (the operator) would want to have these cars removed - they can't make any money with it ICE'd!

  19. The worst thing is, I'm sure that particular driver not only knew where he was parking, but was proud of what he did as some sort of ICE-cars-are-better statement.

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