How Electric Vehicles are Changing Driving Behavior


Imagine a future where you, as a vehicle owner, pull into a gasoline station with the gas warning light on and with miles ahead of you before going to work. You find that each of the pumps are occupied where the individual drivers have either walked into the convenience store. The cars at the pump have not been filled and the drivers are not expected to return for hours. 

In this situation, what would you do?

  1. Resign to the fact you would avoid driving home from work;
  2. Go look for the drivers to ask them to allow you to cut the line;
  3. Take out the hose of another car and use it while the driver is away?

This is the future electric car owners stand to face. This situation can be met in every place such as Sacramento’s City Hall parking facility, where the one single row of electric car chargers are full on weekdays, not just for electric cars but also the so-called “I.C.E.’s” or internal combustion engines.

There has been even an academic paper conducted by Nicolette Caperello and Kenneth S. Kurani of the University of California at Davis. The study consisted of more than twenty in-depth interviews with electric vehicle owners. The questions consisted of whether a person using a retailer’s charging space has an obligation to shop there or how co-workers at a company would manage charging facility issues on use and scheduling.

One response to the company facility charging issue would be employee’s finding ways on their system to serve all their needs. The primary rule seems to be ‘first come, first served’ but this is subject to modifications, such as the individual’s need to be in a specific location during the day. When this occurs, the person seeking to charge their vehicle would send an email to a list server of electric plug in vehicle owners to determine who is using the facility and what charger they are using that is readily available to accommodate the request.

Many say that electronic media helps sort out these issues as quickly as possible. Amongst them is a Wiki, which is a website that allows any member to revise content using a simple Web browser. This is one of the simplest ways that electric plug in drivers can communicate with one another.

One of the major players in the field, Sandra Berg of the California Air Resources Board, had earlier reported that there was space for Nissan Leaf, but there was no plug available. When faced with the earlier dilemma string when at the electric charging queue, she said she would use Option C when the car battery she takes the hose from is already full. She would however leave a note on the windshield saying, “I noticed you were fully charged and I needed a charge to get to my destination and so I unplugged your car. I wanted you to know why your charger was unattached.” She said she would then sign the note and would also leave her email address for the car owner. When there are no spaces and plugs available, she says she takes her car to the nearest Nissan dealership and leaves it there to charge up the batteries.

Until the technology improves and the infrastructure develops, the problem is expected to become worse as more and more PEVs come online in the future.