Tesla Model X towing a trailer caught violating charging station etiquette

Electric car charging resources are limited, meaning we all must do our best to share them effectively.  It’s bad enough that gasoline car owners routinely block charging stations either from confusion/ignorance or from politically motivated spite.  In some cases electric car owners block charging stations, maybe thinking they have a special perk letting the stations be used for privileged parking, or by being finished charging but not moving their car.  Sometimes the charging station is blocked for other reasons, like the Tesla Model X pictured above.

A blocked charging station cannot be used by others.  In some cases getting charged is an urgent priority.

There’s apparently a little scandal brewing on some Tesla Motors related forums because of pictures posted to Facebook of a Model X with a bike rack parked perpendicular to the charging stalls, and blocking three of them.  Let me add the above picture to the mix.

The Model X shown above is towing a trailer.  By itself that’s a feat demonstrating how far we’re going with Electric Vehicles.  One of the stereotypes is that electric cars are so feeble they’re only good for city/urban driving scenarios.  You’d never be able to tow a trailer with one, nor take the thing on trips.  Fortunately Tesla Motors knows they must blow up all those stereotypes, and the Model X has done so.

However, this car is blocking at least three stalls.

Obviously, when towing a trailer, it will be almost impossible to use a Supercharger station as designed.  And therefore, while towing a trailer a Model X must park this way.  I’ve towed enough trailers with car – and worked enough years as a tow truck driver towing cars with a truck – that I fully understand, when towing a thing your ability to park in a normal way is limited.  You’ll often park perpendicularly to regular parking stalls so you can easily pull in and pull out without having to back up the trailer.  Backing up with a trailer is tricky.

But does that excuse committing the charging station etiquette crime shown here?  It depends .. but in general no, there’s no excuse to violate charging station etiquette.

In this particular case the car owner did the right thing, and stayed with their vehicle so they could move it if necessary.  Also, there were plenty of unused charging stalls at that moment, so there was actually no problem.  But, we’re talking about a slippery slope.  In the case of towing a trailer, it’s not that hard to unhook the trailer then go charge then reattach the trailer.

This occurred two weekends ago – the day of the REFUEL event at the Laguna Seca International Raceway.  In the morning we stopped at the charging stations at the Gilroy Outlet Mall to charge the car, and eat breakfast at the Denny’s across the street.  The same Model X shown above was parked at the charging stalls with trailer attached.  I didn’t move quickly enough and failed to take a picture in the morning.

In the evening we stopped at the same place on the way home, and happened to see this Model X, again, parked at the charging station this way.  When we arrived it had been parked elsewhere in the parking lot.  By the time we got hooked to our charging station it was parked as shown above.

Which raises a little question of just what this person was doing .. towing a trailer and using the Supercharger station both in the morning and evening.  My theory is he was testing range capability with a trailer… I did not go over and talk with him to find out.  If someone were to be contemplating a cross-country EV trip towing a trailer, range testing would be very important.

Bottom line – we’re all in this together.  We need to share the public charging resources.  That sometimes means doing extra work, like unhooking a trailer so we don’t block multiple charging stalls.

 

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

2 Comments

  1. David,

    Will you be doing a little report on the ReFuel event?

    And, here I’ll make my regular pitch for the need for a unified public charger reservation system.

    Thanks.

    Jason

  2. David:
    Given the circumstances, no harm was done. No Tesla owners were supposedly inconvenienced since there were several other available charging posts. If this Tesla driver stayed with the car and offered to move it if other drivers needed access, then everyone wins. And quite frankly, the Tesla design team learns that Tesla’s towing trailers may need a revised Supercharger design.
    The EV industry is in the nascent stages of EV charging station design, and the industry is learning as it matures. Until EV chargers are placed on islands just like gas pumps (which won’t be anytime soon), a little patience is in order.
    Finally, a general observation – we need a few less “fueling vigilantes” in the world. If you own a Tesla, and you have the right to use the Supercharger, then why is it anyone’s business why you are using it? Would you ask that question of someone in regular gas station? There are people who charge regularly in Superchargers just so they don’t run up there own electric bill, but we aren’t challenging them on a daily basis? Charging station etiquette is fine, but it isn’t the law – everyone just needs to reach for the decaf…

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