A few years ago, you could venture into some beneficent municipality and find — in the public garage, or the library car lot, or right in the middle of Main Street — a couple of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging stations. These cities, along with college and corporate campuses, were demonstrating their commitment to preserving the environment, offering free power and prime parking to those citizens who were willing to spend a lot of extra money for a low-range, underpowered, unsexy vehicle. Those charger-augmented spots were often empty, simply because there weren’t enough PEVs on the road to fill them.
Today, there’s likely to be a flock of passive-aggressive drivers circling for a spot. And the problem isn’t just that PEVs are more popular because they have longer ranges, ludicrous power, and (in some executions) some serious sexiness. It’s that these spots provide free power and prime parking. The legacy of that eco-conscious carrot has lingered a little too long.
To avoid a modern-day tragedy of the commons (a metaphor that is perhaps too on-point if you think of its origin), there are a few rules we all need to abide by.
Plan ahead. If your battery icon is flashing red, an occupied spot is apt to turn you the same colour. With ranges of more than 300 miles on new vehicles, running low on electrons is no longer an issue of technological limits; it’s one of personal responsibility.
Forget that last 20 percent. EV batteries charge quickly when they’re low, slowing down as they pass the halfway point. Beyond 80 percent, the charging slows to a trickle. So while it may feel good to pump an additional 50 miles worth of electrons into your range, the time you spend topping off is obnoxiously inefficient.
Charge up, then move out. Even if you do need to get a full charge from a public spot (perhaps a Tesla & Lousie scenario?), park elsewhere when your trickling’s done. Don’t hog the free-parking rewards for your virtuousness when there are other deserving drivers in need of electrons.
Don’t personalise it. Yes, you’ve parked there since you bought your Bolt, but now Tricia from accounting needs the plug occasionally. Rather than mourn the loss of your private parking spot, rejoice in the discovery of a new friend — one that you know will text you as soon as she’s charged (and vice versa, we hope).