Electric Car Etiquette: Is It Okay To Unplug Someone's Vehicle So You Can Power Up?

January 24, 2014

No doubt about it, electric cars are coming -- and with them, an increased demand for charging stations. In fact, in some parts of the country, the lack of charging options for EV owners has given rise to a phenomenon known as "charge rage". Should we be worried?

The problem stems from the accelerating proliferation of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. In terms of total car sales, plug-ins and EVs aren't even close to competing with their gas-drinking siblings, but hundreds of thousands are being sold each year. 

That may not seem like much, but it's still outpacing the roll-out of charging stations. Consider this: Americans bought nearly 100,000 plug-in vehicles in 2013, but the largest charging network includes just 15,000 stations across the entire planet

That means that many electric-car owners can have a tough time finding charging options when they're out on the road. And that, in turn, can lead to frustration, the occasional arrest, and the no-no of all no-nos, unplugging strangers' cars. Making the situation worse: 

1. Charging times remain long. Even the fastest of today's fast-charging options require a half-hour stop. So, while cars can cycle through gas station pumps in a matter of minutes, charging stations are far more limited in the volume of cars they can handle.

2. Many plug-in car owners suffer from range anxiety. When your electric car's dashboard display says that you have just enough charge to make the commute home, your natural instinct is to juice up -- you know, just in case. That anxiety can keep EV owners parked at charging stations longer than necessary.

3. Many plug-in car owners suffer from gas anxiety. Yes, it's a real thing. (Though not the kind of gas anxiety some of you are thinking.)

Eventually, charging stations will become commonplace and tempers will cool. Until then, expect some flare-ups. You've been warned.

Want to weigh in on the matter? Leave a comment below, or jump into the lively discussion hosted by our colleagues at Green Car Reports


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