By on July 27, 2020

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 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]

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4 Comments on “Electrify America Won’t Rest Until There’s an EV Emoji...”

  • avatar

    bring back Reddy Kilowatt

  • avatar

    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 ?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      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.

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