Public Charging stations and being mindful of the parking situation

Currently, the biggest challenge with public charging stations is when an internal combustion engine car is taking up a charging spot so that an EV can not use it.  This is what is meant when an EV driver mentions that a spot is ICEd.

Most public charging locations try to solve this problem by properly marking up their spots AND in some locations actually ticketing violators of their signage.

See this BMW X5 at the Americana at Brand –

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - BMW X5 ICE spot (ticketed) - 1

and a close up of the ticket issued to the driver –

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - BMW X5 ICE spot (ticketed) - 3

I really appreciate centers and police departments that enforce these EV only spots as it hopefully actively deters the practice of ICEd locations.

This is an easy violation to spot.

The thing that I believe we need to come up with a solution for is the fellow EV driver that picks a charger that blocks out others from being able to use either the parking spots or other EV chargers at the location.  Let me attempt to explain this.  If you have a charging port on the opposite side of the car where the charging station is and a charging station that is on the same side of the car, some drivers will pick the one closest to their charging port, EVEN IF doing so will effectively make a spot or another charger unavailable for the next car to use.  I don’t know what to call this violation, but here are a few pictures:

At L.A. Live, Lot W (West Lot), I’ve seen this Plug-in Prius park in spot 2 while using the charger from spot 3 to charge with.


I made this crude diagram to demonstrate the point.  The Os are the Blink EVSEs.

By using the charger in Spot 3 while parking in Spot 2, the plug in Prius effectively blocked out use of Spot 3 for MOST cars.

Here’s the same Prius doing the same thing at this location at another day –


To solve this, and to allow others, should they arrive I moved from Spot 1 and parked in Spot 3 and used Spot 2’s EVSE to charge to allow Spot 1 and Spot 4 to charge, should some other EVs need to take the spot.



However our cords were crossed during this time, and would’ve been a hazard. Mr. or Ms. Plug-In-Prius could’ve solved this by just taking Spot 4, and this is exactly the point I am trying to make.  Pay attention to how the spots are configured and ensure that the charger and spot you are taking will allow the maximum number of fellow EV drivers to park in the location.

I don’t know what we should call this sort of EV violation.  It’s not ICEing the spot, since the car IS an EV (yes, even Plug-ins with Range Extenders (gas engine backups are such), however, the person needs to be more mindful of what they’re doing.

Another example can be seen at the Americana at Brand on Thursday, July 12.  The same day that the BMW X5 above was ticketed for ICEing the spot.

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - Volt using wrong charger 1

This Volt was charging while parked in Spot 2 using the charger on Spot 1. I understand that their charging port is on the driver’s side, but if the other spots had been taken, another car MAY not have been able to park in Spot 1 to use the charger in Spot 2 without possibly crossing Spot 2. The driver of the Volt should have used the charger assigned to Spot 2 and left the charger in Spot 1 available for someone else to use.

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - Volt using wrong charger 2

The charger was available AND long enough to reach the Volt’s front Driver’s side charging port.

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - Volt using wrong charger 3

I don’t know if we have a word for this fellow EV driver erroneously using the wrong charger, but if all indications are correct and there will be more of us on the road, we really need to be more mindful of what EVSEs are appropriate for whatever parking spot we decided to take.

Currently, there are still not that many of us on the road sharing these public stations, but there are definitely more EV drivers than in the past.  And the projected sales figures show a little over 3x as many this year as last year.  So, the EV community needs to be more mindful of how to approach this inadvertent blocking of the precious few charging spots and locations to charge.

Is it just me, or does it look like Blink is expanding in Southern California.

As much as I love using the Chargepoint network from Coulomb and the feedback that their well designed IOS app (as well as the very good BlackBerry App), I find myself thankful that Blink also exists.  It seems to me that the Blink Network is growing in Southern California.  Aside from the chargers in my long drive test to Northern San Diego and the chargers that popped up in L.A. Live that I previously wrote about, it seems that the network just added six more chargers at the Americana at Brand.


and on the other view:


As of today, June 20, 2012.  The spots are not yet complete, but according to the Blink Network App, all six chargers are online. All that seems to be missing is signage on the parking spots to mark them as EV parking spots. Something that the management company on the Grove did not initially do to their chargers (at least according to Recargo/Plugshare) pics that I have looked at before (it does look like the signage at the Grove is now up) Which means that the owners of the Americana are learning from their mistakes from the Grove (same ownership.)  They have 12 spots blocked off and 6 chargers, so it may be ideal for plug-sharing. [Update June 21st, actually parked and charged my ActiveE here today. They shrank down the spots from 12 to six to match the number of chargers.] Works great.


Anyway Bravo to the owner of the Americana and the Grove in installing such a high concentration of EV chargers at their two premiere shopping destinations.  The parking at the Americana is free for the first hour, then $3 for 61 minutes to 90 minutes hours, then $1 for every 30 minutes to a $9 maximum.  So, it costs money to park, but not to charge.  Some restaurants add 2 more hours of free parking to the 1 hour for a total of 3 hours of free parking (and charging.)