Pickup trucks have been deliberately blocking Tesla chargers. So one Model X owner decided to find out if his Tesla could tow even a large pickup away. Spoiler alert: It could.

It's an easy way to annoy any electric vehicle driver: Park a gas car in an EV charging spot so that EV drivers can't charge their cars. It's so annoying that EV drivers even have a term for it: "ICE-ing," ICE being an acronym for internal combustion engine--that is, a gas-powered car. 

How common is ICE-ing? I think it varies by location. In Western Washington, where I've been driving an electric car for well over a year, I've only seen this happen once or twice, although I've seen crowdsourced reports from other drivers that suggest it does happen from time to time. Washington is one of nine states where parking a non-electric vehicle in a space reserved for charging is against the law. That could be one reason I haven't seen it happen here very often.

Why do gas car drivers do this? In some cases, the problem is that the space is not well marked. Chargers can be fairly small and unobtrusive, so the gas car drivers may not have realized that the space is reserved for EVs. In other cases, I'm guessing, they did notice that the space was for charging but got frustrated trying to find another space and grabbed the EV one, perhaps thinking it didn't matter because no one would need it anyhow.

But there are a few drivers out there who seem to have it in for EV drivers, Tesla drivers in particular. These hostile motorists mostly seem to be driving pickup trucks. One pickup truck was spotted parked at a Tesla Supercharger obviously not by mistake--because the charger had been attached to the truck as though to charge it. And in North Carolina, a group of pickups were parked blocking a row of Superchargers with the drivers reportedly chanting, "F**k Tesla!" An employee of the Sheetz convenience store where they were parked asked them to leave and they did.

With all this going on, you could forgive Tesla drivers for feeling singled out for mistreatment and wondering what they could do about it. One Model X driver discovered a very easy solution--simply tow the pickup truck away. I should stress that he did not find himself blocked by a pickup truck, but he did get to wondering whether his Model X, which is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds, would be able to move a large parked pickup truck. So he borrowed his sister's Chevrolet Silverado and gave it a try. He parked the truck with the hand brake on--right by a Tesla Supercharger for realism--and hooked it up to his tow hitch. Then he got in and slowly rolled away, pulling the truck along with him. "It actually turned out to be incredibly easy," he said afterward. 

It's worth noting that deliberate charger blocking--rare to begin with--seems mostly directed at Tesla Superchargers, not the CCS chargers used by cars such as the Chevy Bolt, or ChaDeMo chargers used by cars such as the Nissan Leaf. One explanation is that, until the recent introduction of the Model 3, you had to be pretty rich to drive a Tesla, making it a symbol of Silicon Valley's oversized wealth and power. Then there's research to suggest that Tesla drivers--like most people who drive status-enhancing vehicles--are ruder and more selfish behind the wheel than those driving beat-up old jalopies. So maybe some of those pickup drivers are seeking revenge because a Tesla cut them off in traffic once upon a time.

Truthfully, though, I don't understand why anyone would deliberately block an electric car charger. If you're considering it, beware. In Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, or Washington, you could be in for a hefty fine. And if a Model X driver comes along, who knows where your vehicle might end up?

Published on: Jan 7, 2019
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