It's been several months since Dan began his lease on his all electric Smart car. We were already Smart Car drivers, so I was used to the polarizing effect that our cars seem to have on people. It seems like nobody is neutral. We either get smiles and compliments or hateful comments. I'm used to it and I brush it off, but it's still bizarre to me that anyone would bother being negative towards what someone else wants to drive.
The funny thing is, it doesn't seem to matter what brand of car you drive, some people absolutely hate electric or hybrid vehicles. Again, I have no idea why they are so bothered, however it seems like certain people go out of their way to be negative or to stereotype us.
This issue came up a lot of message boards and personal blogs when I began to research laws regarding electric vehicle charging stations. Some people really hate the charging stations and we learned this as soon as we tried to use them.
We primarily charge our EV at home. I've not noticed a big leap in our electric bill, so being able to skip the gas stations has definitely saved us money. Dan uses the EV for his short commute to work and even though they have recently put in EV charging stations at his office, he rarely uses them.
The first day that we had our new car, we decided to take it to the Americana in Glendale to try out their EV stations. The Americana has six chargers run by the company, Blink. The cost is about two dollars per hour, which is consistent with the price of their competitors.
The primary problem with the Americana EV stations is the lack of enforcement for non-EV's. We pulled up and managed to snag a spot, but all of the other spots were taken by non-EV's. We let the concierge know about the problem, but when we came back an hour later, the cars were still there and they had not been cited. The spots are very clearly labeled, but people still park there. We have been back to the Americana several times and the spots are nearly always filled with non-EV's.
We charged our car a few times in Downtown Burbank at a Charge Point station.
The Burbank location has four spots for EV's. Burbank still has the problem of non-EV's parking in the spots, but it is much less of an issue. We used the Charge Point Station several weeks in a row to attend a weekly farmer's market and we noticed the same hybrid vehicle using the spots, but not charging. This is as bad as a non-EV parking in the spot.
The biggest thing that most people don't realize, is that these are not parking spaces. They are charging stations. After looking up the regulations online, the spaces are intended for vehicles only as long as they need to charge and then they are to be moved. It's like using public laundromats and needing to remove your clothes from the machine as soon as the machine finishes. Same concept.
As I explored the issue on the internet, I realized that this is where a lot of the EV hate stems from, the misunderstanding regarding the utilization of the spaces. Non-EV owners are upset because they think EV's are getting special parking spaces, akin to handicap parking. Fully EV owners are upset, because they think they should have priority over hybrid owners, who don't technically need to use the charging stations. EV and Hybrid owners are irritated when anyone parks there that isn't charging.
It's a mess!
To make matters more confusing, I take issue with something that I saw in the Venetian parking structure in Las Vegas. At the Venetian, tucked away on the upper levels of the parking structure are many spots reserved for "alternative fuel" vehicles. However, none of these spots have charging stations.
They are hardly prime parking spots ( another non-EV owner complaint), yet they still exist as being set aside for EV owners and don't actually provide a purpose. This just perpetuates the confusion and problems.
I wrote a letter to the Venetian over a month ago, but have not received a response. If they write back, I will update this post. I really wanted to know the purpose of the spaces, because as I see it, it only antagonizes the issue.
This is a hot button issue and as more EV's are on the road everyday, it needs to be cooled down and resolved.