Dear plug-in hybrid user,

We think it’s time we had a talk about etiquette and common sense, seeing as the landscape has altered with regards to charging stations and how they are perceived and used, and how just about everyone is turning into a cretin in how they’re approaching the matter.

The beginnings – in the public domain – were civil enough, for the most. There weren’t that many charging stations, sure, but there were also very few vehicles able to utilise these in proper fashion, and so there was little contention, save the odd idiot or five who took up space in these designated lots with regular fossil fuel-burning vehicles simply because it was a convenient – and usually prime – parking space.

They still exist, and they always will, but let’s try to address something closer to home first. The proliferation of plug-in hybrids in recent times – brought about by favourable incentives on that front – means that there are quite a number of you out there now, and the like-minded crowd is sure to grow.

Now, some of you may have bought your car because of a strong belief in a going green, save-the-planet philosophy. Some of you may have bought it on the appeal of the technology, the leading edge of what should be the next stage of automotive evolution, along with the idea that it could mean trimming the fuel bill. Most, however (and this is an informed guess), may have bought their rides simply because of the savings to be had on reduced excise duties and taxes. Nothing like a deal, really.

Whatever the case may be, we’d like to believe that all of you are smart enough to approach the topic sensibly. And beyond a brand-aligned perspective, no matter that which you may be aligned to. As the recent hoo-ha over the Mercedes-Benz promoted charging stations in Bangsar Shopping Centre (BSC) has shown, there are lessons to be learnt, and the short of it is that a charging station open to use by all who can use it in the proper manner is the way to go.

The problem here is how so few are looking at it in a proper manner. It’s quite atrocious, really. You have people who plonk their PHEV in such a space in idle fashion (not charging) because it’s a convenient parking location or, in the case of that which unfolded in BSC, because they can flip the bird at what is a competitor’s brand by occupying the space without bothering to utilise the charger, even though charging at this juncture is free (the electricity tariffs are paid by site owners, such as BSC).

Statements done in this vein simply make you look stupid.

The thing to note is that the location and its bays aren’t hybrid parking lots – they’re meant for owners of plug-ins (or pure EVs) to charge up their rides (yes, we’re also talking about you, normal hybrid users. You really can’t park your car in an EV charging bay just because it’s a green facility). This practice deprives those who do want to follow the raison d’etre of adopting the electrification route, which is to charge up when you can at every chance you can, independent of the brand.

Even with the last, there are plenty of aberrants, as in those who do plug in to charge, but still approach things mainly from the spot being a convenient and accessible parking lot, eventually only vacating the space many hours beyond the necessary. How different then, from regular fuel station fill-ups.

All this isn’t advancing any cause, and shows just how poor human behaviour is when things are given free and made easy. Would enforcement by means such as clamping and removal fines arrest this? Of course it would, but you can bet that plenty of ugly scenes are sure to come about, and the truth is, it shouldn’t come to this.

Right now, the nascent technology needs level, objective heads, not boorish behaviour. If you’re a PHEV owner, don’t ruin it for everyone by being an idiot. Don’t park your car in a charging bay just because it’s a PHEV without plugging it in – if you don’t believe in the plug-in charging route and think that battery charging should be contained merely to that provided by the car’s engine, nothing wrong with that, but just park in a regular parking spot then.

If you do place it to charge, be mindful that there are others likely to want the same access at some point. Top that ride off and help your wallet (and the planet), by all means, but move it along when you’re done juicing it off the public grid and let someone else do the same.

After all, there’s no excuse – most PHEVs have apps to tell you when they’re charged up, and some places are already putting up visual reminders not to hog the station (for example, ChargEV chargers at Empire Subang now have a notice saying that users can only charge their car for a maximum of three hours). Remember, the electricity may be free, but it’s not your personal parking lot.

More importantly, you have to think beyond the lines of branding – it doesn’t matter which side you’re on, because you’re all really on the same team. Don’t spoil it for yourselves by acting petty and delinquent, as many of you are being right now.

Yours sincerely,