Opinion: We Still Need More EV Education

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

A month or two back, I was told in no uncertain terms that I could no longer plug in electrified vehicles -- meaning "pure" battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) -- to charge when parking them in the large parking garage that's attached to the condo building I live in.

I emailed the building management company, asking why myself and other residents could no longer plug an electrified vehicle in to the 220 volt outlets in our garage. Was it a safety thing? Cost? Something else -- like maybe the garage employees didn't want to have to unplug cars that needed to be moved?

The only response I got was some vague pablum about it being each driver's responsibility to find a place to charge. A follow-up asking for more specifics went unanswered.

I should note here that at least three people own EVs that are parked in the garage.

I debated about writing this for a while. I wasn't going to at first, since it's really just a small annoyance I am dealing with and I didn't think it worthy of this platform. While I am testing EVs more than ever, it's still only a relative handful of vehicles over the course of a year. There are also fast chargers accessible nearby, and while it's inconvenient, it's not that big of a deal. It's also not all that expensive, and I can expense the cost.

After thinking it over, I decided to write about this not to complain or to seek justice for the three EV owners who park in my garage -- I assume they commute to an office and charge there, anyway -- but because I suspect the decision by my management company to be the product of a lack of information about EVs and EV charging.

I suppose on a basic level, I understand the logic of holding drivers responsible for their own charging makes sense. After all, no parking garage provides gas for cars, right? But electricity is different -- it's readily available from the outlets that dot the garage. And the cost of the electricity needed for charging is almost certainly minimal.

Maybe safety is a concern, but EV fires seem relatively rare. They make news because the technology is new and under a spotlight, but so far the evidence seems to indicate that there's not that much reason for concern. When EV fires do happen, they can occur when the vehicle is parked but not charging -- so while it seems, based on what data we do have, that EV fires can often happen when charging, they don't only happen when the vehicle is plugged in.

If safety had been an issue, I'd have likely been told so. And the garage has no issue with EVs being parked there, as long as they aren't charging. So I suspect safety isn't at play here.

No, I suspect that somehow, lack of information is at play. I can't prove it, but I am willing to bet that folks with sway over building management decisions believe the cost of electricity used for EV charging is much higher than it actually is.

This is because the average American remains uninformed about EVs. That's because the automotive industry and the media haven't done a great job informing the public about how EVs and EV charging work.

To be clear, I think the dedicated automotive press has done a pretty good job on this topic, with the mainstream media and business press being a bit more hit or miss, though certainly not awful

That said, OEMs need to do a better job informing customers about EV basics -- and dealers need to be much better, too.

The average car buyer might not read TTAC or Motor Trend or the New York Times' business page, but they do see television advertising for cars. They do interact with their local car salesperson.

If the automotive industry can finally figure out how to better educate consumers about EVs, our discussions about the topic will be so much better.

And maybe, just maybe, condo and apartment dwellers can charge their EVs where they park.

[Images: Kia, Ford, Hyundai, Volvo, Volkswagen]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

More by Tim Healey

Join the conversation
7 of 163 comments
  • George Kamburoff George Kamburoff on Jul 07, 2024
    We invested in a solar system and electric cars and have lived and driven with free electricity for eight years now.The PV solar system paid back in three years in gasoline savings alone.
    • VoGhost VoGhost on Jul 07, 2024
      This is what energy independence looks like. Congrats, George!
  • BobinPgh BobinPgh on Jul 07, 2024
    Assuming this is in the US, why does the garage have 240 volt outlets? It's not like someone is baking or drying clothes out there.
    • See 3 previous
    • BobinPgh BobinPgh on Jul 10, 2024
      Generally, each 240 volt outlet requires its own circuit with its own circuit breaker. For example, an electric dryer would need its own 30 amp circuit to one outlet and an electric range would need its own 50 amp circuit. So the answer to your question is 4. Just the wire for a range circuit (6 gauge) could be north of $200 so there is an expense. I'm thinking at least $1000 to wire each charger.
  • Fred As a British Car Fan I liked them, but then I sat in one and changed my mind. I like the unique looks of the newer ones.
  • FreedMike Not much to look at, but these were sweet to drive.
  • EBFlex Ford finally making a good decision although they should shut down their EV operations and investment all together. Why lose that money too?
  • Mike Lol. This is the king of suvs. And its made by GM.Why is everyone trashing it?Top of its its class for a quarter century.
  • Frank Drove past there last week, plant has a huge poster of a bronco on the outside. I was thinking "Is that where they build the new broncos?" I know they use to make the Edge and that other mundane SUV there but I believe both have been canned.