The state of California is known for its firsts, and this is defiantly one for the books. California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that allows all fully electric vehicles, as well as plug in hybrid electric vehicles, to be towed if the vehicle parked in a designated electric vehicle (EV) or hybrid charging parking space is not plugged in.
EVs are becoming a common sight on the roads in some parts of California. As a result, the state now has designated EV or hybrid parking places equipped with charging units. Before the law, if an EV was parked in a charging place was fully charged the owner of an EV parked nearby could unplug the charged vehicle and plug in his or her own car. Now with the law in place, if the practice of owner/driver self monitoring of other EVs and self charging continues; a practice known as “Plug Sharing”, the unplugged car is at risk of being towed. In a way this law does put more responsibility on drivers of EVs to monitor the level of charge within their parked vehicle. Under the law if someone “Plug Shares” because you failed to monitor the charge level of your car you now risk being towed.
A larger point of issue within the new law, however, is the inclusion of hybrid electric vehicles. Hybrid electric vehicles do not solely run off of electricity, once the juice in the battery runs out gasoline kicks in to power the car and to even recharge the on board batteries. Because the hybrid nature, many EV driver do no think that hybrid electric vehicles should be allowed to use the same chargers that the EVs require.
Plug In America, a major U.S. based EV advocacy group, does not share in the criticism of the hybrid electric vehicles and has said so publicly. Plug In America has taken the stance that any vehicle that moves away from using fossil fuels in any way is a step in the right direction.Many 100% electric vehicle advocates disagree, resulting in a schism between players who are essentially on the same team.
The bill was introduced Torrance Democrat Betsy Butler. Proponents of the bill consisted mainly of drivers of General Motors vehicles and owners of the Chevy Volt; a hybrid electric vehicle. Proponents said the law was needed to ensure that hybrid electric vehicles can use the chargers, and that non-EV’s/hybrids would not park in designated charging stations.
A provision in the law allows individual jurisdictions to set up additional rules if they wish. Possible provisions could include time limits so that a car that needs only an hour of recharging time does not take up the space for many hours while the owner shops at the mall. Hopefully tow truck drivers are schooled on how to properly tow an electric car, lest the owners end up with an expensive repair bills.
As more public charging stations become available, time and circumstances will dictate what new laws surrounding this new era of driving and “fueling” will be placed within state law books.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.