EV Etiquette 101: The Unspoken Rules of Charging and Driving 2023

Navigating the EV landscape involves more than just plugging in and driving away. In this era of electric vehicles, an unspoken code of conduct exists on the road. Whether you're a seasoned EV driver or new to the world of electric mobility, mastering these etiquettes is your ticket to hassle-free charging, eco-conscious driving, and a smoother road ahead. Discover EV charging etiquette and the best road practices UK below to boost your confidence out there.

Understanding Charging Station Etiquette​

Plan Your Charging Stops Beforehand

While buying an EV won’t offer you clairvoyance to the next available charging station, you can make do with the next best thing - Smartphone apps like Zap-Map or PlugShare. These digital wizards show you real-time charger availability, allowing you to aim for the charging hub slightly ahead of your destination. The last thing you want is to just hope for the best, only to pull up to a large queue of EVs waiting to charge; frustration will be just the first feeling. Preplanning your charging stops is like selecting the express checkout lane, providing you with the foresight to see extra chargers in case your first one is out of use. So, the next time you plan your EV adventure, add a dash of strategy. Plan, aim for the penultimate charger, and watch as those worry lines fade away. For the best advice on planning your next EV road trip, read our helpful article here

Navigating the Queue

Unlike the orderly lanes of a fuel station, there lacks a formal queue in EV ChargePoints. The rule? Respect who got there first. As the EV fleet continues to flourish, a formal queuing system will pop its head up, but for now, a dose of patience and politeness keeps the harmony intact. Despite the buzz and growth of electric vehicles, a neighbourly attitude to charging and queuing remains, so practising courtesy, even in long queues, will always be returned.  

Electric Vehicle Exclusivity

If you needed to refill your car and spotted a petrol fuelling pump - only to find it occupied by a parked EV – would you let it be? Probably not, and while this is a rare occasion, the opposite is much more common. This parking mishap is playfully named 'ICEing' (Internal Combustion Engine intrusion) and occurs when a non-EV takes up a charging bay. Charging bays are exclusively reserved for plug-in vehicles, and while hybrids can switch to conventional fuel, they deserve a recharge too. Even if you are an EV or Hybrid driver, try not to use charging bays for parking if you aren’t going to charge up.

Choose the Right Charger

EV charging ranges from slow and fast charging with Type 1 or Type 2 sockets, to rapid battery refills, sometimes labelled ‘150kW rapid charger’, and more. The problem is, sometimes you can’t order everything on the menu. Rapid and ultra-rapid chargers are designed for cars built to handle the speed and plugging it into a PHEV or EV might not give you the results you’re looking for if they can’t support that power level. We would always recommend checking the charging capabilities of your car. Going further, if you’re charging at a rapid station, but are in no rush, then all this is doing is slowing down people who need a quick top-up. Best to match your schedule with the right charging point. Want to know how much an electric car costs to run? Check out our full coverage of that question here.

Sharing is Caring – Don’t Linger

Once your EV has been topped up, it's time for a swift but gracious exit. Sometimes the time to charge may take up to an hour, and we get it, you might have strolled over to the bookstore or explored the area, but overstaying your welcome in a charging bay isn’t the best road to popularity. Many charge points set a timer—around 45 minutes—to nudge us all toward a prompt exit. Some things may be out of your control, which is where small comments to waiting drivers, even just “I’ll only be a few more minutes”, will go further than you think. Try to remember to time your return to your EV for when or before the charging ends, or even add a small note on the windscreen – but when the charging is done, the bay time is over.

Tip: Try not to block in other cars while you wait for a charger, it won’t make things move along quicker but might spark some tempters!

Additional Etiquette Advice

1. Don’t Unplug Charging Vehicles: While technology usually has our back when it comes to charging, where once charging starts, the cables lock in place to create a secure connection, it’s still not nice to see someone giving it a go. Early-bird EV models might not have this safety feature, so double-check what your EV can do.

2. Be Streetwise: Not all chargers are just found at charging stations, with a little reconnaissance, you can find chargers at lampposts, bollards, and more. Going for these is a nice way to make the queues at charging stations smaller. When charging at home, before you roll out the extension cord consider your local rules and regulations… and sure you're not creating a pedestrian obstacle course! The On-Street Residential ChargePoint Scheme is one government incentive to create more accessible chargers, even in rural regions - you can find out everything you need to know about the scheme here.

3. Keep Things Ordered: As a rule of thumb: always leave the charging station as pristine as you found it. Also, if you stumble upon a glitchy charger or a technical hiccup at the station, report the issue to the charging point operator, ensuring a smoother experience for everyone down the road. You could even leave a note to let others know about a faulty charger.

4. Smarter Charging = Faster Charging: Car manufacturers often highlight the '10-80%' charging time because that's where the golden zone of charging is. Between these percentages, your EV will charge the fastest. So, ask yourself whether you need that last 20% to get to full charge if there is a big queue – it will take much longer than you think and might cost you. You might also want to make sure you don’t dip below 10% too.

5. Two-Way Charging Awareness: Bi-directional charging? It's like having a two-way street for energy. You can send power back to the grid or juice up your home in emergencies. It’s a little more nuanced than this: you must do it when the grid isn’t overstrained and when there is approval – otherwise, you aren’t doing anyone a favour.

Mindful EV Driving Etiquette​

Responsible Regenerative Braking: On the road, your EV unveils the clever technique of regenerative braking which gives your battery a gentle recharge when slowing down. However, moderation is key. There's no need to go overboard with sudden brakes or exaggerated acceleration solely for charging purposes. Instead, try to adapt your regenerative braking to suit your current driving style/environment, and let the motion of your EV do the work naturally.

Think Beyond Your Battery: Be weather-wise for optimal EV range, since colder temperatures might reduce your range and you’ll need to plan your route accordingly. Don't overlook tire pressure—the unsung hero affecting your drive. Low pressure boosts rolling resistance, reducing range by demanding more energy.

Make Yourself Heard and Seen: For electric vehicles, silence is a superpower. But with great power comes great responsibility—especially when it comes to sharing the road with pedestrians and cyclists. People are accustomed to the hum of traditional engines, which is why navigating your EV through populated areas might need a little more attention. A gentle tap of your horn (where appropriate), leaving extra room for cyclists, and even using in-built artificial engine soundscan be a saving grace for the unaware.

Pre-Condition Your EV for Everyone’s Peace: Before you hit the road, think smart—pre-condition your cabin while it's charging. By the time you're ready to glide away, your cabin is already at the perfect temperature. Not only does this make for a comfy start, but it's also a clever way to minimize energy use, ensuring your range goes the extra mile.

Use Semi-Autonomy with Care: Your Co-Pilot, Your Rules

  1. Stay in Control: Even as your vehicle lends a helping hand, your hands on the steering wheel and your attention are non-negotiable. Make sure you don’t rely too heavily on these systems to do the hard work – two brains are better than one. Check out the limits and advancements of autonomous driving in our deep-dive article here!
  2. Know Your EV’s Limits and Capabilities: Every co-pilot has its strengths and limitations. Take the time to understand what your EV's semi-autonomous features can and can't do. While Lane-Keep Assist is helpful, can you rely on it down unmarked country lanes? Blind-Spot Monitoring is great on motorways, but in crowded cities, your own eyes could be relied upon even more.

Take Your EV into a Better Tomorrow

Whether you’re a veteran EV driver or just starting, keep this etiquette handbook by your side for a smoother, seamless journey. Not all EVs are the same, and some might perfectly fit into your lifestyle needs. It all starts with the click of a button, so explore our electric range below to prepare yourself for the approaching electric future with a chat with our experts or by booking a test drive!

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