Silicon Valley has become a hub of workplace charging. In fact, if one of these San Francisco bay area technology companies doesn't offer that particular perk, they're likely to lose talented staff to competitors. Reports from the Valley say that there's a new kind of problem growing for employers – there are far more electric vehicles in parking lots than available chargers, and it's leading to "charge rage."

German software company SAP has experienced this social tension at its Palo Alto campus. In 2010, installing 16 charging ports was more than enough; now 61 of about 1,800 employees have EVs but there are still only 16 chargers. It's getting desperate enough for EV owners that they're sometimes unplugging another car so that they can charge up and make it home, Peter Graf, SAP's chief sustainability officer who also drives a Nissan Leaf, told the San Jose Mercury News.

It's gotten to the point where SAP is now putting together guidelines for EV-driving employees. ChargePoint CEO Pat Ramono advises clients that they should install one charger for every two employees who drive an EV. "Having two chargers and 20 electric cars is worse than having no chargers and 20 electric cars," Romano said. Yahoo should know, since over 100 emloyees who drove EVs regularly tussle there over limited access to charging ports. Read more – including about how network control company Infoblox has ben able to alleviate "charge rage" - over at the San Jose Mercury News.


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  • 70 Comments
      George Betak
      • 1 Year Ago
      CBS 5 KPIX had a good report on charge rage last night: http://bit.ly/1eVDFt8
        Smoking_dude
        • 1 Year Ago
        @George Betak
        thanks. so they expect the number of plugins to be 40% higher in 2020. that is in only 6 years. time to install some chargers soon. :)
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ah... finally, ... FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS. Remember when we were all begging for the days when there would be too many EVs ;P
      JB
      • 1 Year Ago
      First world problems. Why would people rage over a PHEV or a car that has plenty of range like the Tesla.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      Funny how free chargers are always full.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        I've been assured many times by BEV advocates that extensive EV chargin infrastructure isn't really needed, because BEV drivers are smart enough to leave home every day with a full charge, and then they plan their day's travels accordingly.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          "Haven't you also been assured that the reason BEVs will win the race with hydrogen is that building a charging station is an order of magnitude cheaper than building a hydrogen station?" So what's the problem then? Why aren't businesses installing more cheap chargers?
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          They are installing a lot of chargers. There's just a lot of EVs. They aren't installing enough chargers to keep up with demand here because it's not cost effective. As I mentioned, EV drivers will take the spots just because they are close to the door (because that's where the power feed comes from). It's difficult to keep up with demand when you are giving stuff away. Charging for it, even a nominal fee would make it suddenly more cost-effective to keep up with demand. Not because of the income, but because only people who actually need the spots would use them.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Kind of like the complimentary coffee at the bank. I'm not really even a coffee drinker, but I always feel like I should grab a cup to go, just because. Maybe someone could develop an app for a smart phone that allows BEV drivers to communicate with each other, and allow them to create a charging queue based on who needs it the most.
          paulwesterberg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          No wonder you don't drink coffee, that free bank coffee is horrible.
          Val
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Haven't you also been assured that the reason BEVs will win the race with hydrogen is that building a charging station is an order of magnitude cheaper than building a hydrogen station? Was that a yes? So how can one of the biggest advantages of electricity NOT be needed?
          Vlad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          As the article says, no chargers is better than too few chargers. BEV drivers are smart enough, it's the competition for a free and limited resource that wakes up a caveman in us and overrides our smarts.
          JakeY
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          @Letstakeawalk "So what's the problem then? Why aren't businesses installing more cheap chargers?" If it's free they don't get money from it (or they only do from the extra visitors to their business, which is not applicable to this case as it's at a workplace and not for customer use). If they charge a fee, they have competition from the free ones. But anyways, it seems they ARE installing more chargers regardless of this (from national counts; although personally I care more about DC charging).
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Our branch has one of those k-cup jobs, with all the different flavors. One of the funniest conversations I overheard there was a little elderly black lady who complained about the coffee. One of the tellers asked if she knew how to use the machine, and offered to demonstrate it. The lady was very surprised to see it in action, apparently she had been taking the unbrewed cups home with her, and emptying the contents into her regular coffee maker. I don't drink much coffee, because a long time ago (before Starbucks) I was a barista in a local coffee shop. Nothing I get today compares to what we used to brew... so now, I only drink it rarely, generally when it's provided to everyone, like after dinner at a restaurant. Sometimes, I find a good barista, and enjoy a nice shot with a twist as a treat.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Problem is that the chargers are free. Even if your battery is already full, why not get some more juice for free? And you get to park closer to the door!
        JakeY
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        Surprisingly people do go to great lengths to get free charging. I heard of a guy who parks his car overnight at a free charging station and bikes home. There was a long thread over this at TMC in regards to the use of the "free" superchargers. Basically it's sometimes hard to determine who actually "needs" charging, as people may purposefully not charge at home so they can freeload at public chargers (and then they actually do "need" it to get home because they didn't charge enough in the first place).
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          paulwasterberg: The average commute is 37 miles. A supercharger can put that in in 8 minutes. If the charger is near enough to your commute, it's not noticeable worse than filling an ICE car with gas, time-wise. You would think that people who buy those expensive Teslas don't care about money. But in my experience, they do. I know two Tesla owners who won't even pay to put in a NEMA 14-50. They either charge at work or just use 110V at home. And there are probably more, it's not like I've asked every owner around about this. JakeY: Yeah, I don't even think the cost of the electricity is a big factor. It hardly adds up. But if a charger is too near civilization, they have to put in more chargers and that costs real money. Heck, Tesla already implemented power sharing (60kW per car when both are in use) on the 120kW chargers so they can have more stalls without having to put in more power feed.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          Then what are the ZEV credits worth? I know the market is flexible, based on the demand and how much a company is willing to pay. I thought $35k was the accepted value. "The company, intending to be the world’s biggest and most profitable seller of rechargeable autos, has reported ZEV credit sales this year through June worth $119 million, or 12 percent of its first-half revenue. Musk, the company’s co-founder and biggest shareholder, has said such credit sales will decline in the second half from the first six months of 2013." $119 million in credits, and they've sold about 25k cars. So closer to $4800 then?
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          I thought Tesla put their superchargers in the boonies for just this reason. Then they started to put a few in places more near population centers.
          paulwesterberg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          @JakeY at an up-front cost of $2k for supercharging it should be easy for Tesla to continue to add stalls if a given location is regularly full.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          Letstakeawalk: Tesla denies that. And they do make financial reports that seem to back it up. They seem to make about $18K gross margin on each car. And that's really not all that much considering warranty costs, overhead, etc.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          Tesla makes around $35k by selling the ZEV credits it earns from each Model S sale...
          paulwesterberg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          People who spend $72k on a car are not going to waste 30 minutes loitering around a supercharger every day just so they can save $2.
          Vlad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          People do go to great lengths to get free anything. Heck, even cheap anything. People regularly spend more money driving to a cheap gas station than they are saving by a cheaper gas. And then you start accounting for time...
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          Considering how cheap electricity is, that is kinda stupid.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          paulwesterberg: It costs a heck of a lot more to put in a supercharger than $2K. And where do you put it? People don't just always use one supercharging site. And besides, Tesla doesn't have the money to spare. The "$2K" comes out of the cost of the car, but Tesla isn't making money selling cars right now. Without subsidies they lose money on them and even with subsidies they are suffering from low profit margins. It's unclear how that gets straightened out over time.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          They hadn't sold that many cars then. I personally consider the credits to be worth $10K-ish and the price subsidies (federal plus state rebates) to be worth $10K-ish. I'm not sure if these figures are accurate though. The credits will keep dropping though in aggregate since Europe and others are backing away from strict carbon controls. There's a huge glut of carbon credits in Europe right now.
          JakeY
          • 1 Year Ago
          @JakeY
          @Rotation The problem is you can't really put everything at the boonies because some routes inevitably pass through places that have a decent amount of local commuting travel (Gilroy was one such example). As Tesla expands the network and more Teslas get sold, it's going to be more of an issue (right now they just add more stalls to handle any additional demand).
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's clear that we need a government mandate requiring EV charging infrastructure access, perhaps as a part of the building code.
        Smoking_dude
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        You know that on AB this is considered left winged socialism. It is up to the company to decide how many charge points they build.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        It's not that kind of problem. You could put for-fee chargers right next to these chargers and all the free ones would be full and the for-fee ones unused.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          OK, I was being silly. Of course, there has to be some incentive to provide free charging. These companies want the best workers, so this has become a required perk to offer, and supplying more charging capacity is the most obvious option. Maybe they could hire a company valet to handle the charging choreography? Seems like hiring someone at minimum wage would be a lot more cost effective than having your Jr. Executive Vice President of Fun running out of a meeting because the Jr. Executive Vice President of Goofy Ideas needs to get some juice. In public shopping centers, where the charging spaces are up for anyone's use, then either they need to be all free, or all for-fee, so that no customer feels put out by being treated inequitably. Hence my silly suggestion that *every* space be wired. Not likely, of course, due to costs.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        No, we don't. They just need to take away the law that forbids anyone from building them for profit. Building owners should not be forced to hand out free electricity for cars and maintain a charging infrastructure. The gas stations and oil infrastructure were not built in this country because it was mandated. It was built because the owners and operators could make money off it. Same thing can go for EV charging stations.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          2mw: There's no such law. Next comment, please.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          "Building owners should not be forced to hand out free electricity for cars and maintain a charging infrastructure." I agree. I mentioned in the comment above that I was just being silly regarding a government mandate requiring EV infrastructure. Does that really sound like something I'd honestly suggest? Of course the infrastructure builders are looking for a profit margin. That would be something that hydrogen provides nicely...
      jebibudala
      • 1 Year Ago
      Rich people problems. . lol
        mumbojumbo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jebibudala
        Actually, with the Georgia state tax credit, my Leaf costs less than $90 a month. Figure in the gas and maintenance savings and it's practically free to drive. All it takes is the courage to sign on the bottom line for a different type of driving experience.
      bigbenaugust
      • 1 Year Ago
      Power strips, guys! This isn't exactly rocket science. ;)
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bigbenaugust
        1) That won't work for J1772 chargers. 2) That would be very dangerous with cars that draw around 12 Amps when charging. The power strip would probably just turn itself off.
      Smoking_dude
      • 1 Year Ago
      Solution. a) phev like volt or b) get moar kwh like tesla. Well who would have thought of that. ppl were making jokes about unused chargers, and there was a report on AB on the abandoned Magne-Chargers and now there are more cars than chargers. BUT WAIT! SAP is a huge software company. why don't they make a small app. one registeres in a cue for charge, so at lunch break just unplug the charged car and charge the next. the user is notified then. - or make 2 connectors per charger and charge in turns. that should ease the first symptoms. or better use rock-paper-scissors for the spot :D
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        Yeah, it is a bit ironic that this company that makes logistics software cannot handle the logistics of EV chargers. If they were smart, they would go ahead and create an app for this and then brag about solving their own problem with their own software.
        DarylMc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        I agree Unlike public chargers SAP has the power to call the shots here and shouldn't be complaining about it. They have stated that it is a valuable drawcard for staff and simply need to install more chargers or manage the ones they have better. If they cant manage a task like that I wouldn't hold much hope in their ability to run any sort of business.
      mumbojumbo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm suprised to hear so many comments about free charging available apparently all over. Here in Atlanta, the Leaf's number one market nationwide, we hardly have any except at the Nissan dealers themselves. As an example, my workplace which encompasses 6 upscale professional buildings each 6 stories tall (ie, lots of well paid people and cars to park), has zero chargers. I've inquired to building management and they've said forget it, ain't happening. I pointed out the other 5 or 6 Leaf drivers and Volt's I've seen parked around and they don't care. Even mentioned the state tax credits for installing them. They're too cheap to install any type of charger even with the state tax credits. So it goes, either you charge at a dealer or at home. And the few I've seen elsewhere are fee-based chargers.
        George Betak
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mumbojumbo
        We increasingly see a new type of EV driver in these parts. They get an EV because of economic considerations, and try to make ends meet by using free quick chargers at Nissan dealers, and by plugging in for free wherever they can, especially at the office. Workplace charging is particularly popular due to the amount of time spent there, and the willingness of employers to provision charging infrastructure. Add to the mix the rather Byzantine rate structure the local utility PG&E charges for electricity, and you can see why some of these folks are motivated and determined to get a free charge if possible. Another aspect is the rise of PHEVs with a short EV range. These drivers often cannot make their roundtrip commute without burning gas, and consequently want to charge up at work. This adds additional pressure on the already scarce charging infrastructure.
        Dave D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mumbojumbo
        Unfortunate. I'm over in the Norcross area (Atlanta suberb) and we have about 500 people in our building with 5 Leafs and a Ford Focus EV so far. Luckily, we own the building so don't have to deal with any land lords...and just let people charge by one of the unused loading docks. We let them run extension cords in to do it. We're looking to put in some actual chargers to make it easier to charge out in the parking lot proper in case we start using that old loading dock again. I guess it's very much a matter of luck as to who you're dealing with in the early days of EV adoption.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Too bad it is illegal to put up an EV charger and sell electricity just like the gas station does. Those charging stations could be everywhere, and this would be no issue.
        Actionable Mango
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Wow, there are a **** ton of illegal chargers then, because most of the ones I see are not free. Or is this some sort of local Bay Area law?
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          2wm: Not true. It is illegal in California to require a subscription. If the charger is accessible to the public, it must be available to the entire public without requirement of a membership. It is you who don't understand the regulations. Did you fail to read the stories on here? http://green.autoblog.com/2013/05/08/californias-electric-vehicle-charging-stations-open-access-act/
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          You don't seem to understand the electricity regulations. You need a subscription for that company's chargers. Because it is illegal for them to sell you a charge just like a gas station does.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          2wm: That's not true at all. Not only is there no law that says you cannot build a charger and charge for it, but there is actually a law that says that all public chargers must be accessible to everyone and not require membership in a club. The big hangup is you cannot charge per kWh. But companies get around this by charging per hour or minute instead. I'd love to see the per kWh law fixed, but it's not the thing that is holding back building for-fee public chargers right now.
          Actionable Mango
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          Mostly I don't understand your statement, which seemed to imply that free stations are the problem and if they could just exchange electricity for money like a gas station exchanges gasoline for money, then everything would be fine. But I do see plenty of charge points that will exchange electricity for money instead of for free. They mostly seem to be this way. If you mean the membership requirement, I can see that as a hurdle for public chargers, but these are private chargers for SAP employees. Membership can be automatic for every employee and controlled with their RFID badge.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          Boy, we had a fun discussion in that thread, didn't we? Good times, good times. You better believe Tesla will tow your @$$ if you park in their space. They've got a 24-hour hotline set up, just for that purpose. This applies to Tesla's "private" spaces, which they control, of course. In other locations, where Tesla is merely allowed to share public spaces, they can only attempt to discourage non-Tesla (or even non-EV) owners from parking by posting confusing signs. http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/26053-NEW-SIGNS-(Jan-2014)-at-Superchargers
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          I agree with 2 wheeled menace. If you want to implement the infrastructure in a manner which is equitable, it should be made simple to bill on the basis of energy consumed (if it is not already) plus the time connected to the equipment. Having said that I was charged $30 for 2hrs of inner city parking recently. Not London or New York but Brisbane Australia. Surely they could throw in a standard outlet for that sort of money to gain EV customers and not worry about meters. I hope new car park builders are looking to the future.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          Hi Rotation My mistake, I thought 2WM was suggesting it could not sold on the basis of kwh. Personally I don't think that people who install chargers should give away the electricity (unless they see some advantage in doing so). If the people aren't willing to pay then I imagine they have bought a vehicle which meets their range requirements and don't need the extra charging. If EV drivers drive more distance because the energy is cheap I don't think that would be a good thing for the environment.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          "It's illegal to park in a EV charging spot for any purpose other than for charging." That depends. It's not always true.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          DarylMc: 2wm has made no such argument. His argument is you can't have pay chargers. And you can. There are many of them. It would be nice if California would change the law to allow pay-per-kWh chargers more easily. But that's just not the issue here. Customers shy away from for-fee chargers, no matter whether it's by time or by kWh. And free chargers are always full.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          Letstakeawalk: It's illegal to park in a EV charging spot for any purpose other than for charging. So Tesla should be able to tow even from a public spot which has a supercharger at it. That link you put in implies Tesla is trying to baffle people with signage? If so, that's pretty funny.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Why haven't the utilities set up their own branded EVSEs?
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          After talking to a guy at chargepoint, the reason is because there's no money in it. Customers see any fee as too much. They think they are paying $0.10/kWh at home (or less on an EV plan). Problem is they are really paying more than that, and companies are too. So if you offer the electricity at a reasonable rate, they see it as expensive. Personally, I think there isn't a future in public L2 AC charging. People just don't want to pay and they usually can carry enough juice they don't have to. Companies should concentrate on DC fast charging. That's something you can't do at home and the convenience of charging fast produces a premium value for the product beyond the electricity contained in it. So go for DC fast charging if you want to stay in business.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        C'mon now, don't be defeated. After all, Tesla found a way to supply free power to all of their customers, and it works great! Every business that doesn't install a free charger is missing out on this captive market - don't all those café and salon owners realize that a free charger out front will bring in an affluent, upscale clientele? Shame on those Big Electric utilities that lobby to prevent others from freely buying and selling current.
        Vlad
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        There is simply no money to be made in on-demand level 2 charging. Subscription, with a guaranteed spot - perhaps.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        It's not. It is illegal in California to sell power at a charger by the kWh unless you register as a utility. However, you can put up a charger and sell charging per hour without difficulty at all. That isn't the problem here at all. The problem is this charging is free. For-fee chargers can't compete with free. If you put up a for-fee charger you'd just find people don't use it. If they switched these chargers to for-fee the usage would drop 5-fold.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Hi paulwesterberg Are you sure $0.49 per kwh makes charging equivalent to $15 per gallon? It doesn't sound right.
          paulwesterberg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Just down the street from where I live in Wisconsin there is a grocery store with a charger that has a fee of $0.49 per kWh. That is 300% markup over residential electrical rates. Based on the energy content this would be equivalent to paying $15 for a gallon of gasoline.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Have you seen the mark up on the soda they sell inside? That stuff is mostly water!
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Smoking_Dude: The law exists in several states. It was passed to keep landlords from reselling electricity to their tenants at a markup. Landlords were hiding high rents (or evading rent control) by metering and selling electricity to their tenants at exorbitant prices. So the law was passed that you can only charge for power per unit time (month in the case of apartments) or give it away unless you are registered as a power utility. The law could be modified, but no one has bothered yet. It's unclear if it would make too much difference right now anyway. Since you cannot count on there being a charger available at your destination (except at work and home maybe) few take trips in EVs where they need to use L2 AC for-fee charging.
          Smoking_dude
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          but this is not logically at all. it is a huge difference if one charges with 2kw per hour or 20. who made this law? this is pure BS. But that is what the ppl want.
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          If it is 300% markup then gas would have to be $5 per gallon aside from whatever means you used to compare vehicles.
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