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Will 'Charge Rage' Join 'Range Anxiety' As Electric-Car Owner Emotion?

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Chevrolet Spark EV at CCS fast charging station in San Diego.

Chevrolet Spark EV at CCS fast charging station in San Diego.

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"Range anxiety" is the term attributed to the fear of running out of charge in an electric vehicle before you've reached your destination.

In reality, the feeling fades once you've got used to your vehicle and daily usage patterns--in as little as a few weeks, in many cases.

Now, there's a new electric car owner emotion waiting in the wings: "Charge rage".

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If you've ever looked for a charging spot to find a fully charged, but plugged-in electric car sitting there occupying it, you've probably experienced it. Likewise if someone has unplugged your car before it's finished, in order to charge their own.

It's becoming a real problem at some workplaces, where employers haven't provided enough chargers for plug-in car-owning employees to top up their cars.

As the San Jose Mercury News reports, it's a problem afflicting several businesses in electric car-heavy areas--including German software company SAP in Palo Alto.

In 2010, it installed 16 charging points in the company parking lot, more than enough for the small band of electric car users at the time. But now, there are over sixty employees with plug-in cars--and competition over the chargers is causing "charge rage".

Some cars are being unplugged while they're still charging, while SAP's chief sustainability officer Peter Graf says employees are having to call and message each other to get them to move their cars once charged.

MORE: Etiquette Tips For Electric Car Charging: New Video Explains It All

ChargePoint CEO Pat Romano told the Mercury News that a 2-to-1 ratio is needed to ensure everyone is able to charge, and that networks must always be scaled to their usage.

Some companies are getting around the lack of charging with distribution lists and calendars to book charging spots--cars can only charge for two hours at a time, and nobody can remove the charging cord without the other driver's permission.

It sounds complicated, but it's a necessary evil for some companies. Many lease their buildings rather than owning them outright, and aren't keen to install permanent infrastructure at a site they don't own. And for network control company Infoblox, it seems to work--there's no hierarchy, and few overstay their welcome at a charger, lest a barrage of emails result.

The alternative, of course, is an issue we've covered before: charging station etiquette.

Share charging stations. Give priority to those who really need a charge--battery electric vehicles over plug-in hybrids. Once you're done, move to another space. And remember that charging is a privilege, not a right.

In an odd way, it could be viewed as a positive sign that people are arguing over the use of charging stations. It clearly indicates that enough people are buying plug-in vehicles for it to be a problem.

But the reality is a little less positive for the irate owners of electric vehicles. Can we have some more charging stations, please?

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