Driving Decorum: Space hogging, charging to 100% and unplugging others – carwow reveals the top EV etiquette no-nos

April 06, 2023 by

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With electric vehicles (EVs) becoming increasingly popular, carwow partners with etiquette coach Laura Akano to help drivers polish up their EV manners ahead of the Easter getaway. From knowing when to stop charging to handling charger queue smalltalk, carwow and Akano, have created a guide to modern manners for EV motorists with seven etiquette must-knows.

With 720,053 plug-in cars on the roads and electric cars accounting for one in five new car registrations*, the UK’s public EV chargepoints are hot property. Last Easter saw seven million people embarking on a UK getaway** and with just one charging point for every 18 vehicles***, at busier times plug-in car owners could face long waits this Easter to publicly charge their vehicles.

To help EV drivers, online car buying and selling site carwow has teamed up with etiquette coach, Laura Akano, Principal Coach and Trainer at Polished Manners, to create a guide to modern manners for motorists. These are the seven etiquette rules that everyone with an EV needs to know:

  1. Can’t touch this: Whilst it may look like the lady or gentleman in front has been charging for a while, and you may really need to top up, never stop someone’s session early by tapping the charger’s touchscreen or emergency stop button, or worse, trying to force out a charge handle. Not only is it terribly rude to interrupt someone’s session, you could cause damage to their vehicle.
  2. Sign of the times: Disconnecting someone else’s car is a firm no-no when it comes to EV etiquette, but it can be frustrating when you have no idea how long the person in front will be. Why not pop a polite note in your window to tell people when you’ll be back? Then they can decide whether to wait, or try another charging station.
  3. The magic number: Unless you need a full charge to get to your destination, you should only charge enough to get to where you’re going (or up to the magic number of 80%). Not only will you avoid hogging the charger, but most manufacturers recommend only charging to 80% for daily driving to protect the battery. Charging speeds also drop significantly above this magic number. Bear in mind that if more than one car is using a charger, charging speeds may drop for both motorists – all the more reason to only stay as long as you need to!
  4. Full charge ahead: Public charge points across the UK vary in speed, but not every EV will be able to accept the maximum rates of the fastest sockets. If your car can only accept a 50kW charge and you have a choice between a 50kW rapid and a 150kW ultra rapid chargepoint, opt for the slower machine and leave the faster one for someone whose car can take that rate of charge.
  5. Check while you charge: Charging up but have some important errands to run? No problem: most EVs let you keep a close eye on your charge levels through a mobile app. Feel free to go about your business whilst keeping track of your battery level, so you can free up the space as soon as you’re finished without compromising your busy schedule. For many EVs, you can add up to 100 miles of range in 35 minutes with a 50kW rapid charger – the perfect amount of time to enjoy a cup of tea.
  6. Brush up your charger chit chat: Sometimes charging can take quite a while – especially if you’re using a slower point. Polish up on your ‘charger chit chat’ – that everyday smalltalk with other EV motorists. A greeting with a smile and eye contact before starting a chat with a stranger shows good manners. Any compliments about their make or model of EV are sure to go a long way. Or, in true-British style, the weather will always provide an easy conversation topic. Equally, some people like to be left to their own charging devices, so know when to stop talking!
  7. Charge up and cheerio: EV charging spaces are exactly what they say on the tin: charging spaces. If you’re not charging, it’s untoward to use the space as a parking bay. You’re stopping other motorists from making use of them. Give a Royal wave and drive on!

Laura Akano, etiquette coach, said: “Life is full of moments where we need to remember to continue to mind our Ps and Qs. The rise in motorists switching to Electric Vehicles has created a new set of rules to be mindful of: EV etiquette. Especially during potentially stressful Easter holiday-driving conditions, it is of utmost importance to remember to also take your manners on the road with you, act with decorum and listen to your inner EV (and by EV, I mean the Etiquette Voice!) – especially when using shared public charging stations. ”

Hugo Griffiths, Consumer Editor at carwow, said: “Electric vehicle chargepoints have sprung up everywhere from fast food restaurants and campsites, to National Trust car parks and of course, motorway service stations. Ahead of any Easter drives or day-trips, lots of EV motorists will be planning where they will be stopping to top-up their charge. The good news is that there are lots of tools online, including interactive maps, that provide a full rundown of chargepoint locations and conditions. If you had problems – or if your charge was problem free – motorists should consider leaving a review to help future users.

“EV ownership can be a steep learning curve for drivers making the switch from petrol or diesel cars. But any new EV owner who’s nervous about long-distances or different counties’ infrastructure are likely to find strong support at the chargepoint from the UK’s growing community of EV motorists.”
A recent carwow survey found that 38 percent of drivers polled said their next car was likely to be an electric****.

*SMMT, March 2023

**figures from Visit Britain, 2022

*** DfT/SMMT, February 2023

**** Research conducted by carwow on nationally representative 1,000 sample size in March 2023