Conjuring up the always entertaining image of a couple of Bay Area treehuggers going medieval on each other, the debate about whether battery-electric vehicles have priority over plug-in hybrids at publicly accessible charging stations went wide this week. The incident was kicked off when a group of ChargePoint stations in San Francisco were recently commandeered by a fleet of Ford Fusion Energi PHEVs. The incident was relayed via a Reddit post by a rather annoyed BMW ActiveE driver who said that Ford Motor Company reserved the spots for itself, and the incident spurred our friend John Voelcker over at Green Car Reports to use his Twitter account to broaden the discussion over plug-in charging etiquette.

The issue is relevant not only because plug-in vehicle sales are rising rapidly, but also because Ford itself last October went so far as to create a placard for EV drivers to share with their gas-dependent kin. The sheet has a list of charging manners, including requests for charging spots to not be taken up by fuel drinkers, admonitions for charging cords to not be set up where they can trip people, and, of course, battery-electric vehicles getting priority over plug-in hybrids. Whoops.

This isn't the first time there have been public charging disputes. Last June, a Forbes reporter reviewing a Ford Focus Electric (in Berkeley, no less) had the public-charging plug prematurely pulled from his car by a local Coda dealer rep who needed the juice. A social-media brouhaha ensued, of course.

And, last October, Ecotality, which makes Blink EV charging stations, jumped onto the fray, creating a "Blink Courtesy Notice" that plug-in drivers can print up and place on the windshield of conventional vehicles that snag a plug-in parking spot (commonly known as getting ICE'd, a reference to internal combustion cars).

Can't we all just get along?


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 64 Comments
      EZEE
      • 1 Year Ago
      Go figure - two people truly fighting over who is holier than thou. If the Leaf people get angry and start a fight, the Fusion drivers can simply drive away, and the chase will be on! ...for about 80 miles! :D
        MK2
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EZEE
        If they're mad about having their car unplugged, they probably weren't fully charged, so it would be a much shorter chase than 80 miles.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EZEE
        Yes, I am smiling and appreciating myself at the moment.
        Thereminator
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EZEE
        I never thought any other type of car could produce more Smug than the Prius...time for a Smug-off! : )
        ElectricAvenue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EZEE
        I'm a Leaf driver, and I upvoted you. :-) I think that's funny.
          EZEE
          • 1 Day Ago
          @ElectricAvenue
          Good job on the Leaf, btw! :)
          EZEE
          • 1 Day Ago
          @ElectricAvenue
          :D
      MK2
      • 1 Year Ago
      1) You touch my car without my permission and I'm going to be mad. 2) I'm not buying electric until the battery is big enough to get me through my day, easily. And, until I have a good place (garage) to charge at home.
      Smurf
      • 1 Year Ago
      Agreed... This problem only occurs at "free" chargers. As more and more chargers are switching from free to fee-based, this problem will go away over time.......
      Smurf
      • 1 Year Ago
      I didn't miss anything. If you plan to drive far enough away from your house that your EV won't have enough range to make it back, you are putting yourself at the mercy of finding public charging... Being at work is not the same as being at home. You don't own the charger at work. There is no guarantee as it is a "public" charger. Home is the only place where you are guaranteed to have a charger available (Assuming no power outages)...
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      You missed my point. This BEV driver isn't "trying to get home". He's just gotten to work, and he's planning to be there all day. Find another spot near an outlet, and plug in. That's an easy 6-8 hours worth of charging from a normal outlet, which should be a fairly decent amount (at least enough to get to another nearby fast charger to top off). This BEV driver was planning to do exactly the same thing that Ford is doing. he was going to be an all-day customer. Perhaps there's *another* BEV owner out there who's just as PO'd that " imatripandahalf" always monopolizes a charging space without having the common courtesy to reserve it so others will know that it isn't available. Sour grapes, that's what "imatripandahalf" has, because Ford took "his" space fairly and legitimately.
      Smurf
      • 1 Year Ago
      Public charging will remain the Achilles heel for EV's for the foreseeable future. A solution that relies on public charging is doomed to fail for many years... Because of this, EREV's and PHEV's will dominate until EV ranges increase... Whether it is due to the lack of chargers or due to "occupied" chargers, you run the risk of not making it home if you try to drive beyond the range of your EV. I just don't see us building enough chargers to eliminate this problem any time soon. Asking PHEV users "not" to plug in is not a solution either... The more likely solution to this problem is that EV's will begin to have more range, reducing the "need" for public charging...
      Ford Future
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good Ole Incompetent Fox "News". Thanks for the laugh.
      JakeY
      • 1 Year Ago
      There's a couple issues brought up in this incident. 1) The garage roped off all the public chargers so that the Energis can use it for essentially private use for a couple of days without any prior notification. As a commenter pointed out, if they do that for regular public street parking spaces, they usually give notice. In San Francisco, 72 hour notice is required (24 hour notice if the notice is posted on a metered space). 2) The Energis hogged the spaces for a couple of days, but the cars only take 2.5 hours to fully charge. There might have even been times where there was no car at the spot but it was roped off anyways. 3) The fact they were PHEVs and didn't even need the charges to get home only makes matters worse, although that is not necessarily the core issue here. Also keep in mind the spaces there are regularly used by a couple of BEVs that do need the charge to get home. The driver complaining is one of them.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Day Ago
        @JakeY
        "Also keep in mind the spaces there are regularly used by a couple of BEVs that do need the charge to get home. The driver complaining is one of them." Those drivers found other chargers nearby, nobody got stranded. He's complaining because he didn't get to park in his "regular" space.
          Rotation
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Don't count on a public charger to get you home, folks. You don't own that space, you are going to find yourself in trouble at some point and you'll have only yourself to blame because you confused public chargers with your own personal charger.
          JakeY
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          In San Francisco, each city owned public parking garage has different rates and the "regulars" likely have paid a monthly fee for that garage. This monthly fee only allows you to use that specific garage. That means if they move to another garage they have to pay about $30 per day. And those other garages will likely have their own "regulars". http://www.sfmta.com/cms/pgar/garages.htm The fifth street garage also happens to be the one with the most chargers (8) out of the entire city. The way they maximize utilization of the chargers is the regulars (includes both BEVs and plug-ins like the Volt) there move their cars when they are done charging (notified via app). The Energis broke all of that by hogging all the spaces.
          JakeY
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          And it case it's not clear, they roped off the spaces even when no cars were charging.
      brotherkenny4
      • 1 Year Ago
      Screaming groups of potential voters may influence our lethargic leaders to do something. A rational dissertation on the pro and cons won't though. So maybe we need a little more whining and less thought. You know, something a lawyer/politician could understand.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      But I thought BEV drivers really don't need a charging infrastructure, because they are smart enough to charge their cars at home every night (only takes a few seconds to plug in!), and that they plan every day's driving around their known range. OTOH, PHEV drivers have a much smaller AER, and so are dependent on charging constantly throughout the day to replenish range, so they can avoid having to fire up the ICE. We certainly don't want to encourage them to drive around burning gas if they don't have to... ;)
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Well yeah, the BEVs generally do not require a charging infrastructure and they rarely use it. But on those rare occasions where they make a long trip that is outside of the back & forth range . . . they really need that charger. It would really suck to make such a trip and then get blocked by someone that doesn't really need the charge.
        JakeY
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Some people charge at work, so they plan their range at the half way point. In that case they will need the charger. If you read the article this is what happened to the BEVs in that article. I think the point is BEVs can be in a situation where they need the charge. PHEVs never need the charge, no matter how big or small their battery. At any rate, if the car is fully charged I don't see any reason why it's wrong to unplug it whether it is a PHEV or a BEV. The likelihood that the PHEV is parked at the spot fully charged is much higher than for the BEV.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Day Ago
          @JakeY
          There should have been dozens of outlets that the BEV driver could have used while he was working all day. He was just upset that he didn't get "his" spot.
          JakeY
          • 1 Day Ago
          @JakeY
          @Letstakeawalk It's not just a single spot, they roped off ALL the chargers in that garage for the Energis to use. If he could have charged at a spot elsewhere in the garage, I see no reason why he would be outraged.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        1/2 of those couples that forgot to plug in have already gotten divorced. (hat tip Neil Cavuto)
        Giza Plateau
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        EVs are allowed to recharge. indeed fast charge is key to viability. hybrids are the ones who include a lot of junk so they don't have to. but they soon realize they want to to avoid using the ICE junk. as usual you pick the wrong side. maybe time for a revision of your life.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      " I know of at least 4 people that were impacted by your request to have these chargers blocked off, which resulted in BEV drivers that commute in from San Jose, etc to have to wait several hours at a DIFFERENT location in order to make it home." His problem is that they had to use a DIFFERENT location to charge? Oh, the humanity! They must have had to walk a couple extra blocks to get to work, then!
      EVSUPERHERO
      • 1 Year Ago
      One large step for mankind, (pure EV driver). One baby step for mankind, (hybrid, wannabe EV driver) Gee, I wonder who should take priority? Who ever potentially uses the least amount of gas.
        Smurf
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EVSUPERHERO
        An EREV driver and an EV driver use about the same amount of gas.The EV driver simply uses gas in another vehicle on all those occasions when his EV doesn't have enough range... Depending on the mileage of that 2nd vehicle, the EV driver may actually use "more" gas...
          ElectricAvenue
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Smurf
          The only time I "use" gasoline is when I am a passenger in another car - which was going to be driven anyway. Generalize much?
          Smurf
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Smurf
          I'm cool with generalizing. It is the same thing you did when you asked who uses less gas.... There are always exceptions like yourself in every situation. I'm guessing in general, most EV owners have a second vehicle that runs on gas, which they use for long trips....
        mycommentemail
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EVSUPERHERO
        Whoever gets to the EV charging station first. If two cars can make the same commute via electricity, what concern is it of yours whether one happens to also carry an additional generator or not? It is completely immaterial. They are EV's when they are running on electricity. They are intended to run as plug-ins regardless of any additional hardware they may have on board. Should a Leaf driver be allowed to kick out a homemade EV driver just because the homemade uses more energy to move along than the Leaf?
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EVSUPERHERO
        "Gee, I wonder who should take priority?" Whoever gets to the spot first. Or, whoever reserves it. In this case, the BEV driver complaining should have made a reservation to ensure that a spot would be available. It appears that he is simply used to having access whenever he wants, so he got a little lazy. It could have been *anyone* in that spot, and he would have been blocked out. He could/should have made a reservation, as per the garage's policy.
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