Electrify America Won't Rest Until There's an EV Emoji

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Electrify America, the organization formed as part of Volkswagen’s $2-billion penance to promote the spread of electric vehicles after the Dieselgate scandal, is touting a new EV-related icon it believes will be in service of its broader aspirations.

The company has launched an obligatory Change.org petition to get the Unicode Consortium to adopt an charging station emoji of its own design. Electrifiy America noted that the governing body rejected last year’s proposal, saying something needed to be put into place to that “represents the EV industry and the future of transportation.”

It also said it realized “the Unicode Consortium has a tough job to avoid overpopulating smartphone keyboards with endless emojis. However, we believe the Unicode solution of continuing to represent EV charging with a Gas Pump Emoji is not a forward-thinking approach.”

There are likely way too many emojis already; every new one that’s created seems to take us further away from using text as effectively as our forefathers. But that’s an argument for a linguistics-based website that probably doesn’t exist, leaving us to focus on the business aspects of the position. The corporate world knows there’s marketing potential in claiming you’re the one that pioneered a new symbol that serves as a catch-all for a concept that works regardless of language barriers.

That’s why Ford was so keen to ensure it was the company that pushed the Unicode Consortium into embracing the pickup truck last year. The group didn’t run with the Blue Oval’s original concept in the end, encouraging some light ribbing from rival General Motors. Yet that didn’t stop Ford from getting tons of media attention for trying. Indeed, most outlets were far less cynical of the overall process than we were.

Getting back to Electrify America’s attempt, the group said the Unicode Consortium believes the currently available fuel pump and lightning bolt emojis should be sufficient in conveying the concept of electric vehicle charging — something the VW subsidiary doesn’t believe to be the case.

Wondering how difficult it would be for laypersons to understand the deeply coded language of childlike imagery, we texted the combo out to a handful of people. Despite one person responding “electric gas,” requiring us to type out big-people words for clarification, the rest all nailed it. It should be said that typing out the real words actually took less time than hunting through the emoji menu for the applicable symbols.

From Electrify America:

The updated design is a way to bring awareness to the unique nature of vehicle fueling that millions of drivers who rely on EVs experience — an experience not fully conveyed by the current option of using a gas pump emoji next to a lightning bolt symbol.

In addition to expanding the EV charging infrastructure, Electrify America is committed to EV education and awareness. With millions of text messages sent every day, we think an EV Charger emoji can help promote electric vehicle adoption. Please join us in this effort.

While the charger icon in question will undoubtedly confuse people if sent to them randomly, anyone who recharges their automobile on a regular basis will probably be hip to its meaning. This also “raises awareness,” we suppose, helping VW fulfill some of its legal obligations. Just expect a wait before there’s any hope of seeing it appear on your mobile device.

Version 14 of the Unicode Standard was originally scheduled to drop in May of 2021. However, it was announced in April that the group will delay the push for 6 months — allegedly stymied at the hands of the coronavirus response. As a result, that means the consortium is willing to take new suggestions until September of this year, improving Electrify America’s chances of getting this in and drumming up support before the buzzer.

[Image: Electrify America]

Join the conversation
    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jul 28, 2020

      Yup, a stick figure made of lightning bolts will work - but the lightbulb head has to change. Maybe a charging plug with a face?

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jul 28, 2020

    I agree...especially as our homes have lower consumption devices, the electric companies are missing the new business opportunity to replace the gas station. We need to be more respectful to our elders. Didn't everyone here Picturephone at least one other person last week ?

    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jul 29, 2020

      I used the videophone while waiting at the Space Station for my Pan-Am flight to the moon. Ironically they actually sort of got the modern device right in that book/movie with Poole and Bowman watching BBC on their tablets while eating but not so much with the payphone.

  • Conundrum Can't see that the Espada chassis had much to do with the Miura. The Miura had a rear-mounted transverse V12 with the transmission and final drive all part of the engine block. So it's a bit of a stretch saying the north-south V12 and regular transmission Espada chassis was related to the Miura. It looks to be no more than an update of the 400 GT. And short and long-arm independendent suspension was hardly unique -- a '53 Chev had that in front, it was standard for years on most cars that didn't have Mac struts. The Brits call SLA suspension double wishbone, so Honda thought that sounded more mysterious than SLA and used that terminology in ads, but it's the same thing. Only a few mid '30s cars had same length upper and lower A-arms like a '36 Chev, before the obvious advantage of a short upper arm for camber control was introduced. Of course Ford used a dead beam front axle until 1949, so it was last to climb out of the stone age.Do you have a link to a reference that says the Miura and Espada chassis were related?
  • FreedMike One of the things that we here in North America often forget about Europe is that it's a COMPLETELY different world to drive in. Imagine driving in the downtown area of the city you live in 24/7, and never leaving it, and you have a decent simulation of what it's like to drive in a place like Paris, or London, or Rome - or Manhattan, for that matter. As far as the "dystopia" is concerned, I don't really see it that way. This isn't made for people living in the 'burbs - it's for urban dwellers. And for that application, this car would be about perfect. The big question is how successful the effort to provide large-scale EV charging in urban areas will be.
  • Matzel I am hoping that Vee-Dub will improve the UX and offer additional color options for the 2024 Mk8.5 refresh for Canada. Until then, I'll be quite happy with my '21 GTI performance pack. It still puts a smile on my face going through the twisty bits.
  • Stanley Steamer There have been other concepts with BYOT, that I have always thought was a great idea. Replacing bespoke parts is expensive. If I can plug in a standard 17" monitor to serve as my instrument panel, as well as speakers, radio, generic motors, batteries, I'm for it. Cheaper repair, replacement, or upgrade costs. Heck I'd even like to put in my own comfy seats. My house didn't come with a built in LaZboy. The irony is that omitting these bespoke items at the point of sale allows me to create a more bespoke car as a whole. It's hard to imagine what an empty rolling monocoque chassis would look like capable of having powertrains and accessories easily bolted on in my garage, but something like the Bollinger suv comes to mind.
  • Iam65689044 Sometimes I'm glad the French don't sell in America. This is one of those times.