In 2022, electric vehicles make up about 5% of new vehicle sales in the US. As that figure increases, common sense and civility are going to matter a lot more at public charging stations. Charging stations are rarely crowded in 2022, but that may be about to change. We can look to California for a glimpse into our own electric future. The Golden State has seen EV market share jump to 16% of new car sales in recent months, and charging infrastructure is rushing to catch up as Tesla Superchargers and Electrify American stations fill up. With more EVs hitting the roads, now is the time to address electric car charging etiquette.
Know the Maximum Power That Your EV Accepts
Electric vehicles are commonly judged by two important criteria: range and charging speed. In 2022, EV models vary widely in charging speed as a result of the battery management systems that electric powertrains were engineered with.
For example, these are the max power specifications (in kilowatts) that popular EVs will accept at a DC fast charger, such as those you’ll find at Electrify America or a Tesla Supercharger:
Tesla Model Y: 250 kW
Tesla Model 3: 250 kW
Hyundai IONIQ 5: 230 kW
Kia EV6: 230 kW
Ford Mustang Mach-E: 150 kW
Volkswagen ID.4: 135 kW
Chevrolet Bolt: 55 kW
Nissan Leaf: 50 – 100 kW (depending on trim)
Ford F-150 Lightning: 150 kW
Volvo XC40 Recharge: 150 kW
Audi Q4 etron: 150 kW
Pulling into a Level 2 station at a shopping mall, hotel or restaurant? Just plug in, you’ve got nothing to worry about with regards to max power. Level 2 charging supplies between 3kW and 19 kW of power, more often between 7-10 kW. This is nowhere near as fast as your EV can accept, so there’s no hierarchy of charging speeds to worry about. Level 2 EV chargers include Tesla destination chargers, Volta shopping center and movie theater plugs, plus many Blink and ChargePoint Level 2 stations.
Pulling into a Level 3 ‘fast charging’ station, this is where your EV’s charging speed matters, at least for non-Tesla drivers. When not charging at home overnight, Tesla drivers rely on one of Tesla’s 1,300 Supercharger locations in America for DC fast charging. No worries at Tesla Superchargers, all plugs at each location are either 150 kW power delivery (AKA V2 Superchargers), or newer 250 kW ‘V3’ Superchargers.
Older V2 Tesla Superchargers have one caveat in addition to slower charging speeds: power sharing. If you plug in at a Supercharger stall right next to another charging car, you and the other driver will have to share the power, resulting in slightly slower charging speeds for both of you. If there’s a charging stall available at least two spots down from another Tesla charging, do the other guy a favor and plug in over there. At newer V3 stations with 250 kW power, just pick a station and plug in! There’s no power sharing at V3 Superchargers or Electrify America stations.
Those of us who don’t drive a Tesla are relying more and more on Electrify America’s network of chargers. Electrify America does things a little differently. A station typically has two ultra-fast charging 350 kW stations, a few 150 kW stations, one of which has a blue CHAdeMO plug that really stands out.
Here’s what you need to bear in mind at Electrify America:
- If your EV accepts say 130 kw or 150 kw peak power for example, PLEASE don’t plug into the only 350 kw station available! Sure, if the rest are taken, go for it. But if you have the option, go for the charging stall that is closest to your EV’s peak charging rate.
- CHAdeMO (the big blue plug): Do you have a Nissan Leaf? If not? Don’t use the station with the blue CHAdeMO plug unless it’s the only one available. If it comes down to choosing between the 150 kW stall with the blue CHAdeMO connector or a 350 kW stall but your Volkswagen ID.4 only accepts 130 kW max power, go ahead and use the CHAdeMO one. Why? The Nissan Leaf is the ONLY EV with this plug standard, even the new Nissan Ariya has abandoned CHAdeMO in favor of the CCS plug standard. There are fewer Nissan Leaf’s on the road than there are fast-charging EVs in 2022. The statistics are in your favor.
Move your car when you’re done charging
Remember when you drove a gas-powered vehicle and made weekly stops at the gas station? What about when it was Labor Day weekend and everyone was traveling, and the gas station along the highway was packed? Isn’t it a bad move to leave your car parked at the gas pump while there’s a line of cars waiting to fill up? Well imagine doing that when the only other places to charge are many miles away. Please, move your car when you’re done charging.
If you have no plans to charge and just want to use the fancy dedicated EV parking spot, resist the temptation and park elsewhere. EV drivers like myself know that we’re more likely to have a charging stall blocked by a careless EV driver than by an ICE vehicle.
A PSA For Tesla Drivers
The pull-through charging stall is for drivers towing a trailer. Only use it if it’s the only one available, or if you have a trailer.
Charge to 100% Only When Necessary
Battery management systems are designed to distribute electricity to each and every battery cell within the battery pack in the safest way possible for the health of the battery. Because of this, every single EV on the market, from the $26,000 Chevy Bolt to the $130,000+ Lucid Air, will ramp down charging speeds significantly beyond 90% state of charge. This is especially beyond 95%.
I recently did a test in my own Hyundai IONIQ 5 at Electrify America. It took 19 minutes to charge from 15% to 80%, with a peak power of 233 kW. However, because of battery management, charging from 80% to 95% took another 14 minutes. Did it matter on that day? No, I was the only one at the charger that day. Someday, with more EVs on the road, it’s going to matter.
Be nice, Be Helpful, and Turn Down the Music
Electric vehicle adoption isn’t a walk in the park for those of us who don’t watch EV videos on YouTube all day. If you see a neighbor struggling to charge their EV for the first time, maybe offer a helping hand, or at the very least, don’t give them dirty looks.
Please, PLEASE don’t blare music with your windows down at a charging station. Be mindful of others, and the possibility of napping little ones in the cars around you.
In 2022, EV drivers are still ambassadors of electric mobility. The world could use a little kindness!