EV Etiquette Lesson: The Please and Thank You of Plugging In
From the April 2023 issue of Car and Driver.
Our recent experiences at public chargers have us concerned that the EV-charging experience might soon devolve into violence and mayhem. Too many folks are trying to use too few stations, a situation exacerbated by out-of-order plugs. Before people get disinvited from weddings or cut out of the will, let’s see if we can address some of your messiest deportment dilemmas.
Some basics: Always place the fork to the left of the plate when you eat lunch on the decklid, and never park a combustion-engine vehicle in an EV-charging spot. Now on to the hard ones.
IS IT SO RUDE TO STAY PLUGGED IN FOR A 100 PERCENT CHARGE? I MEAN, I WAS THERE FIRST.
Aw, sweetie. It can feel incomplete to unplug at 82 percent, but if someone is waiting, don’t get greedy and go for a full charge. It’s impolite, because on a DC charger, odds are the last 20 percent will take as much time as the previous 80 percent. Plus, charging to full accelerates long-term battery degradation, so it’s rude to your car too. This rule goes triple for Lucid drivers. Even at 80 percent, a Lucid has 300-plus miles of highway range, way more than most EVs.
I LIKE TO USE THE FASTEST CHARGER. IS THAT WRONG?
If you drive a Mini Cooper SE that can accept a mere 50-kW charge and are hooked to a 350-kW charger when slower ones are available, you’re making the angels cry. It’s like taking both armrests when seated on the aisle in an airplane. You might be more comfortable, but you’re taking space from the person who can really use it. While some new EVs can accept over 200 kilowatts, most older models can’t. Know your limits.
MY TESLA CAN CHARGE ANYWHERE, SO I PLUG IN WHEREVER I SEE AN OPEN SPOT, EVEN IF IT ISN’T A TESLA STATION.
That’s not a question, but also, unless you’re desperate, please don’t do that. Someone is going to figure out how to yank that plug and launch it into low Earth orbit. Tesla offers an amazing and exclusive charging infrastructure that works, like, all the time! We can’t say the same for non-Tesla stations, so seeing Teslas at those stalls in instances when their own network is available nearby can be frustrating. Think of the community.
DO I REALLY HAVE TO LOG IN TO PLUGSHARE OR OTHER REPORTING APPS?
Of course not. You don’t have to help the elderly carry groceries either, but it’s nice if you do. Reporting inoperative or damaged stations on apps such as PlugShare can help other travelers avoid frustration. If everyone did it, it could save you frustration too. Crowdsourced info also helps stations organize repairs. Good car-ma for all.
THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO SUCK AT THIS. CAN I MOCK THEM?
Sure, but that’s mean. Once you’re used to public charging, it’s easy to forget how frustrating and confusing stations can be. Some have a touchscreen, and some have what looks like a touchscreen but requires pressing a button. Some take a swipe, and some seem to need a lunar alignment before accepting a credit card. If you see someone struggling, help them out. You’re not going anywhere for a while anyway. Maybe rip out this page and give it to them.