It is so seldom that my predictions come true that when it happens, it’s truly a “man bites dog” story. In this case the topic is electric vehicles and ‘free’ parking and charging. It deals with Los Angeles International Airport and was reported here in the Wall Street Journal.
For those of you living in enclaves and not reading PT, let me bring you up to speed. I believe that if you want to buy an EV you should go for it, but that it isn’t up to the government to subsidize your transportation. I have noted that giving ‘free’ parking to electric vehicles or worse, ‘free’ electricity, would cause a score of problems not to mention substantial costs to the parking facility owners and public relations problems when things went bad. This brings us to the article in the WSJ and LAX.
LAX, it seems, has been giving free parking in its most expensive lots ($30 a day) to EV’s and Hybrids. This came about when California mandated that car manufacturers develop EV’s over a decade ago. Then it was basically forgotten.
However, of the approximately 40,000 electric vehicles in the US, a quarter of them are in Southern California, and many of those folks fly out of LAX. Therein turns the tale.
The airport has 38 charging stations and says that chaos ensues around them. People hook up their cars to charge and then leave for a week. Others then try to use the stations by unplugging the cars and using extension cords to charge their vehicles. Complaints about not being able to charge (for free, mind you) at LAX are legend in the EV community and they are demanding Evalets to move cars around the chargers, for free, of course.
(It might also be noted that pure EV drivers and Hybrid drivers are at each other’s throats because the EV owners believe that the Hybrids shouldn’t be able to charge since they can run on gasoline. Heh!)
LAX officials realized that if 100 Electric vehicles and hybrids show up daily they lose $1,000,000 a year in revenue, and the numbers go up and up. They simply can’t afford to give away free parking.
The result is that EV owners are very angry – many bought their cars simply for the free parking:
“That was a huge reason why I bought the car in the first place,” says a 35-year-old Santa Monica, Calif., postproduction company executive, whose car qualifies for free parking for up to a month at a time in two of LAX’s most convenient—and costly—short-term lots.
Other than that, he says his ride is “expensive, underpowered and not really all that green,” because it can run just 12 miles on electricity before switching to gas.
The article goes on to note that many locales, including the City of London, have revoked free EV parking and caused major PR problems.
I just love these two:
Alan Howard, a Los Angeles dentist who says he has only once been able to find a charging spot since he bought a Nissan Leaf last year, says making electric drivers pay for parking isn’t the answer.
“I love it free—but they need to have some kind of system,” he says. “Maybe a valet who can move the cars around.”
Jack Sheng, an e-commerce-company owner who bought a Nissan Leaf last year, says electric vehicles should be able to park free in all eight lots, not just the two with charging stations.
“If they’re trying to get people to drive green cars and reduce the pollution, shouldn’t the policy be applicable to the whole terminal?” says Mr. Sheng, miffed that he had to pay to park recently while picking up a friend from an international flight.
One is “miffed,” another “loves it free.” Who is the loser in all this, why LAX of course. They started a program that was untenable, and now are the ‘goats’ of the story when they try to correct their error.
We only bring it on ourselves. I’m not particularly happy in being ‘right’ about this. It’s not great wisdom or high science. It’s just, as one pointy eared science officer might say “logical.”