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.
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.