Suggestion box: How to avoid fighting over an electric-car charger

Consumer Reports News: October 19, 2011 09:23 AM

Electric car early adopters are already developing new protocols and struggling to resolve social issues that gas-car drivers haven’t had to deal with since at least the 1970s: Who gets to park in special electric car parking spaces? And what happens when someone unplugs the charger from your car and plugs it into their own?

To answer the first question, I think pure electric cars whose drivers may be stranded without an “opportunity charge” should have priority over plug-in hybrids at what few public charging spaces exist today. (Plug-in hybrid drivers, after all, can get home on gasoline.)

Regarding the second question, automakers have devised some systems to guard against unwanted unplugging: EVs from GM, Nissan, Ford, and others, have systems that will notify owners by email or text when their charge has been interrupted.

Looking at a picture of a Nissan Leaf parked on a public street, I had a simpler idea. The Leaf has a giant charge-port door on its nose. When the trigger-style plug is attached it sticks out, leaving the door gaping open like a codfish mouth.

Why not sink the ports deeper into the car so the door can close behind the charger? The door already latches and can only be released from inside the car. A small cutout in the door could allow just the cable to stick out and prevent the car from being unplugged while it’s charging.

That doesn’t mean the next EV driver to come along might not be in greater need of juice. But at least they wouldn’t try to pilfer it from your car. They’d know they had to keep looking. But that’s just my 2 cents.

See our alternative fuel special section. Also read, "Should you plug in?"

Eric Evarts


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