EV etiquette – a selection of dos and don’ts of electric car ownership

To help you in your journey into a whole new world of electric vehicles, we've compiled our own essential list of EV etiquette dos and don'ts...

Switching to an electric vehicle is a whole new world. Not just in terms of how you drive and ‘refuel’ your car but the way you interact with other drivers. Vauxhall has even launched a new guide for EV drivers in association with etiquette expert, Debrett’s.

In fact, new research by Vauxhall reveals that 77 per cent of electric car drivers are unclear on etiquette relating to EV ownership. The study also highlighted differences between EV and petrol/diesel owners when it comes to their interactions with other motorists.

While 55 per cent of plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle drivers said they would let another driver who needed less charge go ahead of them in the queue at a public charge point, only 15 per cent of petrol and diesel drivers said they would do the same at a petrol station.

The number of EV charging bays being misused by petrol and diesel drivers was also revealed, with almost half (46 per cent) of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle drivers reporting that they have been unable to park in a charging bay because a non-electric vehicle was taking up the space.

Also, 40 per cent of electric vehicle drivers have found that charging bays are too small to accommodate their electric vehicles.

We’ve compiled our own essential list of EV etiquette dos and don’ts…

Dos

  • We all know that the charging infrastructure situation is challenging and there are some coverage blackspots, so try to charge your vehicle at home if possible, where it’s also cheaper. Leave public chargers free for those that have no other option.
  • If you drive a plug-in hybrid or an EV with a slower charging capacity, choose a lower-speed connection, because plugging into a rapid charger will make no difference. If your EV supports a maximum power of 50kW, it won’t matter if you charge it on a 150kW or 350kW charging station, you will still only get 50kW.
  • If you plug into a public connection and leave your EV charging, make a note of the finish time or come back at regular intervals so it’s not taking up valuable space for any longer than needs to be. Also, make use of apps to monitor the state of charge so your vehicle is not taking up space for a minute longer than necessary.
  • Vacate an EV bay as soon as charging is complete. Also check there are no parking limits when charging in a public car park, or you could return to a ticket on your windscreen and a nasty fine.
  • If you need to charge your electric vehicle at a host’s house, Vauxhall’s Guide to Electric Vehicle Etiquette recommends asking politely, following their instructions carefully, and charging your vehicle when electricity is cheapest. It’s also a good idea to explore a range of local charging options before your visit so that you have an alternative.
  • Look after public charging stations (including the cables and plugs), and report any damage to the service provider.
  • Plan your journey using apps such as Zap-Map to minimise delays and range anxiety. This enables you to see which chargers are occupied in real-time, reducing the risk of a frustrating wait.
  • It is acceptable to check the onscreen progress of other drivers’ cars at charging stations. More often than not, EV drivers will engage in a conversation and let you know how long they plan to stay.
  • Like a public charger station, workplace points should be vacated as soon as your EV starts charging. The RAC suggests setting up a WhatsApp group to send an alert when a space is available.

 

Don’ts

  • Never unplug another vehicle, even if it has finished charging unless you have been given permission by the owner. Even if you’re tempted, most EVs can’t be unplugged during, or even after charging, until the driver presses the ‘magic button’.
  • Don’t charge your EV to 100% at a public charger – 80% should be enough. Electric vehicles charge relatively quickly up to 80% capacity, and then the rate slows down to protect the battery’s long-term health, which is why manufacturers typically quote a 10-80% charge time.
  • If you drive an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car, don’t park it in an EV charging bay, or block one in any way. This is known as ICEing.
  • Don’t block in other cars while you wait for a charger. It could inconvenience others and even trigger an argument.
  • If you arrive at a public charging station and all the bays are in use, don’t just rush to grab the first space that is freed up – work out the queuing system. If you see another EV parked, politely ask them if they are next or if they know who is.
  • Only park in an EV parking space if you plan to charge – don’t use it as a regular parking space to nip into the shops.
  • Don’t press the Emergency Stop button unless it is an emergency. Don’t be tempted to press the Emergency Stop button to conclude your charging session – end it correctly (usually by tapping your card on the small screen).
  • Pressing the Emergency Stop button will also cause the charger to go offline for the next user, leading to inconvenience and delays.
  • Only park in designated spaces for charging EVs. Don’t be tempted to squeeze in at an awkward angle just within reach of the connector lead.
  • If you encounter problems with an EV charger, don’t just drive away. Report it to the service provider, or share the information via an app to alert fellow drivers.
  • Try not to use the last possible rapid charger en route. This gives you a safety buffer should it be occupied or out of service.

Just like everything else in life, EV etiquette comes down to consideration, common sense and politeness.

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