10.24.2012 - by Marc Geller
The EVCard

As plug-in car drivers, we know that plugging in is no big deal. Most of the time we just plug in at home, charge overnight, and drive off with a full charge when we have somewhere to go. And most of the time that’s all we need. But increasingly, public charging is available where we go, and occasionally we really need a booster charge to get through the day.

Plugging in at public charge locations is a good thing to do, whether you need the juice or not. It is an act of advocacy to the passing public, and offers the opportunity to relate your real world experience to the EV-curious. A parking space with a charging station that is empty can incite negative feeling among the EV-ignorant, especially if EV parking is in prime territory or perceived to have been paid for with public funds. Certainly where there is no cost to the driver, plugging in is a win all around. Your car is doing advocacy work while you go about your business, and you get a few free kilowatts.

But since you are a kindly soul, you don’t want to occupy a space another plug-in car driver might need. Perhaps you drive a plug-in hybrid, want the juice but are willing to give up the charge station to a desperate EV. Perhaps you drive an EV and would be happy to let a plug-in hybrid get some electrons to stay on electricity. Do you just leave the spot empty?

In an attempt to facilitate the communication necessary to maximize the use of public charging infrastructure, Plug In America is offering the EVCard. It lets other drivers know your basic situation and get in contact if necessary.

A little communication can go a long way to help demonstrate that plug-in cars are becoming a permanent part of the landscape.

One side of the card says, “OK TO UNPLUG”, letting another driver know charging is not essential to you. The other side says, “CHARGE NEEDED”. If you arrive at a charger being used, it lets a returning driver know your car needs to be plugged in. And it lets others know not to disconnect your car when it’s plugged in.

Download it here, print it, add your phone number, fold it, laminate it. Put it on the dash when appropriate.

It doesn’t solve every problem we encounter with public charging. It presupposes a parking space available within range of the cord to facilitate charger-sharing. It can’t take into account the disparate electronic methods to engage and disengage networked systems. It doesn’t specify how long the connected vehicle needs to charge, which might be useful and might be unnecessarily complicated. But a little communication can go a long way to help demonstrate that plug-in cars are becoming a permanent part of the landscape.

7 comments on “The EVCard”
  1. Topher says:

    It would be great if the PDF phone number field were one that we could fill in, so that we could type in our phone number and it would print out all nice and legible. I know such PDFs can be made (for example, the IRS creates tax forms like that), but I don’t know how to do it 🙁

    Thank you for your consideration

  2. Peter Miller says:

    Could you please correct the broken link at:
    Several of us would love to use this useful card.

    1. John U'ren says:

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your keen eye! The link has been updated.

  3. Chris C. says:

    Hello Marc and PIA –

    I am an EV activist in Atlanta and a member of PIA. I recently came across this excellent “EV card” and distributed copies to my local EV-driver colleagues at our monthly meetup last week.

    It really is well done. However, there are two tweaks that I think are needed to the card.

    1. The card is a little too big. It should match the size of a CD case, because most cars have a place to easily store CDs. Of course the current card fits in any glove compartment, but being able to stash this card with the CDs typically makes it more accessible, e.g. in a center console space. It’s where I keep the dashboard sign that for my own EV. You would need to trim the card width down to 142 millimeters. I’ve done that with my copy but it is chopping off the PIA copyright text, so at the very least you should move that copyright text away from the edge, and consider putting witness marks to indicate the cutting lines for matching the size of a CD case.

    2. You already have a blank field for writing in a phone number, which is great. I think there should also be a blank field for describing how my car indicates that it is fully charged. Each car (Leaf, Volt, Tesla, etc.) has a different way of lighting up LEDs to show its charging state. I think it’s important, long term, that we encourage owners to note that, since it does not appear that the market is converging on a standard way of displaying that. Perhaps a flexible approach would be to simply add an “i” info field (with an “i” icon at the left edge) for general use, and then in the margins of the PDF (the bleed area) print some text for the driver suggesting they write in the car’s LED behavior. For example, a Chevy Volt owner might write in: “this car is fully charged when the LED is blinking; if the LED is on solid, then this car is still charging”.

    Alternatively, we can use the white space at the bottom for this note, but to help us do that you should move the PIA graphic and URL text to the lower left corner, and keep in mind the 142 mm width I mentioned above.

    These may seem trivial, but I think with these two small graphical adjustments, we will finally have the perfect card!

    I can make my own version with these tweaks, but I think the whole community would benefit from them, so I hope you’ll consider making them to yours.


    – Chris

    1. Chris C. says:

      Shoot, this commenting system does not respect line feeds. So much for readability 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    You really shouldn’t be parking in these spaces (even as an EV) if it’s not required. The point of public charging isn’t to go from fully depleted to full – people really should be doing this at home at night time. However, in the rare situation where the charger is getting used in order for a traveler to get enough juice to go to their next destination – it would be understandable if they were using it for several hours.

    Most EV charging stations seem to be operating on a cloud network now. It would be great if something could be incorporated into this system where each EV driver could sign up for a membership, download an app, and if you arrive at a charging station and someone is plugged in, if you were able to somehow send a push notification (via the app) to the driver plugged in asking how much longer they should be/if it’s okay to unplug, or if they can come back and move their car to a regular spot if they are fully charged at that point. The app would of course also allow the EV owner who is plugged in o check on the charging process easily and notify the driver when it’s full (though I’m pretty sure most of the car manufacturers have apps that do this anyways).

    Just thinking out loud! I still haven’t had my morning coffee yet so I apologize if this makes little to no sense 😉

    1. Calvin Croucher says:

      The Plugshare app does in fact allow you to notify others that a charger is in use and it allows you to text someone to please plug you in when they are done.

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