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It’s absolutely never acceptable for an internal combustion car to park in a spot designated for a plug-in car. That’s a firm rule, no matter how crowded a parking lot is, and no matter how infrequently the charging location is used.
Electric car drivers should never leave nasty notes. If the charging spot you counted on using is ICEd—the term referring to a charging spot occupied by an internal combustion engine car—by all means, the plug-in driver should leave a note on the windshield explaining the predicament. The note can be firm, but should be expressed in polite language—in a good-will gesture that will hopefully convince the offender not to make the mistake again.
Don’t charge if you don’t need a charge. Leave the spot free for another EV driver that might need the charge to safely complete his or her daily travels.
Only occupy a charging spot while your car is being charged. As soon as the charging session is completed—either when your battery is full or when you have adequate range to comfortably reach your destination—be prepared to unplug and move your car as soon as possible, making way for a fellow plug-in driver. (Many charging networks and car apps can be set to notify you by email or text when your charging session is completed.)
If a charging spot you needed is being used, and you are able to park next to a car that is currently charging, it’s perfectly fine to leave a note asking the owner to plug your car in after his or her session is complete. If you have receive such a note, honor the request. If the charging session requires a fee, you are obviously not obligated to activate the charging session (and incur a fee)—although that kind gesture will likely be returned some day. As with any note left on a windshield, it’s advisable to include your name and cell phone number so you can be contacted.
An owner of a pure electric car owner, like a Nissan LEAF, does NOT have the right to unplug a plug-in hybrid, such as a Chevy Volt—just because that car has a back-up gas engine.
The exception to Rule #6—and applicable in fact to any other plug-in car—says that it’s okay for one plug-in car owner to unplug another car, if the first car has clearly finished charging. In this event, the driver who makes the switch should leave a note explaining why it was unplugged. The note should be full of gratitude and include your cell number. (The PlugShare app has a notification function so drivers can contact each other prior to unplugging. Drivers should try to make contact prior to unplugging.)
Practice safe charging. The means properly managing the cord. Neatly wind the cord on its holder, and tuck it in so people will not trip on any excess length, or drive over it.