By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
Life with an electric car can provide another entry in our “Things you never thought of” file.
Toyota recently announced that the one millionth Prius had been sold in North America, and a plug-in version is now available. Nissan is rolling out the all-electric Leaf to some success, and availability of the Chevy Volt is spreading through the land. Industry wide sales of pluggable vehicles are still a small percentage of overall sales, but it’s plain buyers are interested and taking the vehicles.
So the buyer signs and drives. Then what? Many of these cars are ideally suited to an urban or semi-urban environment and their initial availability was centered in metro areas. But some new owners are meeting unforeseen problems.
One recent report from Ontario, Canada cited a Chevrolet Volt owner who attempted to recharge the car overnight from an outlet in his condo’s parking garage. The condo’s residents’ association blocked him from doing that, saying that the building management agreements prevented them from “providing fuel for vehicles” even though the owner offered to reimburse the association for the electricity used. The group said the owner can’t use the wall outlet and must install his own charging station. The owner is now looking at either some significant cost to install a Level II (240V) charger or a very long extension cord from his upper floor.
In a similar case, a well-known automotive blog just had a 2011 Nissan Leaf as a press car for a week. The driver parked the car in his Phoeniz, Arizona apartment garage, only to find that the management company had decreed that electric cars couldn’t drink from the nearby outlets.
This time the reason given was monetary; the company was concerned about the cost of the electricity, saying that they had no way to measure how much was used, even though the driver offered to pay an agreed and reasonable sum for a week’s worth of connectivity. Additionally, he noted the tenants already share the bill for common areas such as lobbies, security lighting and the garage. He solved the immediate problem by recharging the car free at the local Nissan dealer.
Much of the industry EV coverage already centers on potential buyer confusion about plug-ins, hybrids and other cars of that ilk, but perhaps some wider education is needed as well. Evidently many remain terrified by things they don’t understand. As well, this should provide a cautionary tale to potential buyers without their own garage.
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