Suggested Citation: Caperello, Nicolette, Kenneth S. Kurani, Jennifer TyreeHageman (2012) Do You Mind If I Plug-in My Car? How Etiquette Shapes PEV Drivers' Vehicle Charging Behavior. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-12-42
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) engage drivers in an essential new behavior—plugging the car into the electrical grid to charge the vehicles’ batteries. Broadly, it has been assumed that if away-from-home charging infrastructure is in place and PEV drivers know of it, they will perceive an opportunity to charge. The experiences of early PEV drivers cause us to rethink this assumption. Drivers report a lack of etiquette, i.e., rules to guide their behavior and their expectations of how other PEV drivers ought to behave in the new social interactions. PEV drivers want widely shared, understood, and practiced charging guidelines in order to feel comfortable and confident in charging away-from-home. This study uses thematic analysis of transcripts, amended by field notes, of interviews of 28 PEV driving households in San Diego County, California. Themes emerged within two types of away from home charging. First, public chargers available to any PEV driver were the sites of multiple situations in which drivers’ perceived a lack of rules or perceived conflicts between different systems of rules; both inhibited charger use. Second, workplace charging adds an additional layer of rules and possibly resources that may either inhibit or encourage PEV charging. If PEV markets and charger networks continue to grow, charging will be shaped by more systems of rules and regulations, e.g., those governing financial transactions. Our results suggest that new rules may create as much uncertainty as guidance.