Plug-in road rage
THE growing popularity of electric cars in the US has spawned worrying growth in a new trend - car park rage.
Forbes magazine reporter Todd Woody highlighted the problem in a recent article.
He was sitting in a cafe while his battery-powered Ford Focus was recharging in a public car park, and received a text message on his phone alerting him that the car had been unplugged mid-charge.
When he went to investigate, the recharging plug had been removed from his vehicle - which was down to about 20 kilometres of range when he plugged it in 45 minutes earlier - and was now charging a Coda Automotive battery-powered car.
Woody was justifiably upset.
''After a few choice expletive deleteds, I unplug the Coda and and resume charging the Focus and then take a closer look at the black sedan that's just hit the market,'' he writes in an account of the incident.
''The car, made in China with final assembly in California, sports manufacturer licence plates and is a rolling billboard for the Los Angeles start-up."
The car turned out to be a dealer demonstration car.
After leaving a handwritten message under the car's windscreen wiper, and contacting the company using Twitter, Woody received a response a day later.
The manager driving the Coda says he assumed the Focus had finished recharging as the indicator light on the charger box was not lit, and swapped it across.
While Woody says he accepts the manager's explanation, he warns that electric car drivers can expect more car park-induced rage ''as drivers vie for the few available public electric vehicle charging spots''.
The story also highlights another growing problem with the limited supply of electric car infrastructure - conventional cars that park in spaces fitted with recharging points, blocking out the vehicles that need a power top-up.
''Twice in the past week I've rolled up to parking spots reserved for electric cars in San Rafael in Marin County that were occupied by gas-guzzlers, including a BMW blocking an electric car charger in an otherwise nearly empty parking garage on a Sunday afternoon,'' Woody writes.
''The urge to key the idiot arises but then I realise the Focus Electric doesn't have an ignition key, only a fob that starts the car.''