26th November 2018
Is it first come, first served when you come to a public charging point and what if there is a hybrid charging when you need power to get home? We asked, what is the real etiquette of public charging.
You are driving your electric vehicle and realise you need to top-up, the perfect chance for a break from driving, a coffee and a snack. However, when you reach the motorway services you find that the charge points are blocked by a diesel van driver, a hybrid who is charging their vehicle and an EV driver who is at 100% but is nowhere to be seen. What do you do?
As with any new technology, there are going to be teething problems and issues which affect new adopters. The lack of charging infrastructure in the UK is lamatable, and there needs to be an improvement, however, as we are today there needs to be a little give and take. One of the greatest frustrations is when you go have planned your journey, knowing your range and planning to stop at a public charger when you find that you cannot use it because it has been blocked. It can range from a non-electric vehicle using a charging space to electric vehicles which have been charged remaining in place. But, what is the proper etiquette to ensure that the charge points we do have are available for use by others when the need them?
It is amazing the frustration that is felt amongst electric vehicle drivers when ICE driver's (ICE is electric vehicle shorthand for Internal Combustion Engine) block a charge-point with 80% of EV drivers surveyed starting that such drivers should face tougher penalties and there are times when people have taken matters into their own hands, blocking in such vehicles or worse.
There is even a concern when people believe that another driver is overstaying their welcome on a charge-point. With suggestions that the driver should stay in their vehicle whilst on charge with the exception of a short ‘comfort break’ if required. Of course, the overall consensus is that people need to be sensible. There are locations where there is a good number of charge-points and therefore a more leisurely approach can be applied. However, in the case of a site where there is only one point available common sense should prevail, especially if you are using a rapid charge point where it is suggested that you leave as soon as your vehicle has been charged. It is disappointing that the charging infrastructure is not catching up quickly enough to meet the demands of the growing number of electric vehicles on the roads, however this is something which will change in time.
For now, here is a suggested, common sense approach to charging.
Plan ahead - well, what am I saying, as an EV driver you understand more about the range of your vehicle than anyone. If you are on a longer journey and will likely go beyond your range just consider what people called the ‘golden age of motoring’. Back in the days when ‘A’ roads were the only way to go and we would savor a journey taking time to enjoy a coffee or a meal on the way. Now of course we have motorways, however you can be smugly satisfied that will be one of the only drivers who will arrive at their destination in a rested, somewhat unfrazzled mood.
Control your charging rage - Okay, so we know that you may be one of the most chilled drivers on the road. Cruising near silently up the motorway with a responsive motor at the beck and call of your right foot, but what do you do when you see an ICE driver blocking the only working charge-point? Don’t get angry and see red. It’s time to crack out the long extension lead, park up and enjoy your charge.
Release the rapid! - if you are on a rapid charge be aware of others who may need to use it and be ready to move on when your charge is complete. Let everyone share the joy!
Cool the ICE - If you are driving a PHEV, don’t hog the only charge-point! - Feel free to charge, however please be aware of the BEV drivers who don’t have an ICE to help them on their way.
Charge-points for all… - Remember, public charge-points are just that, public! First come, first served is the way of the world, just have a bit of consideration and remember your fellow drivers. The good karma will go a long way!
Wilf Voss is an independent journalist venturing into the world of electric vehicles.