Catching flies..

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The growth of the EV community has always come with both pleasure and pain for some of the early passionate voices within it. More people into the tent is exciting and fun; the interpersonal dynamics sometimes not so much. But while an overall decline in societal civility is hardly unique to our ranks, it seems that lately more EV folks are riding high horses than driving electric cars.

A frustratingly perfect example is this response to a recent Green Car Reports article written by a new Bolt driver. Despite some reasonable pre-planning and a good-natured attitude, her first road trip experience was a bit bumpy. The responding blogger counters with his own successful adventure- but only after belittling her at length. Sadly, it was merely one of many similarly snarky, sarcastic, and/or condescending comments occurring daily across EV communities.

No matter the experience and wisdom of a veteran driver, this tone is counterproductive to getting more EVs on the road. It’s a variation of the EV purist’s attitude that any PHEV isn’t good enough, or the Tesla drivers who look down on any plug-in car that isn’t one, but the bottom line is about the same:

Enthusiasts who malign anything short of “perfect” EV adoption will only help sell more gasoline cars.

The biggest step for anyone is to try a plug the first place, on any car that compels him to. Then, the best way for us to keep new drivers in our fold–and hopefully, encourage increasing degrees of electrification–is to use the knowledge we’ve accumulated to help them have a good first experience. But shaming, especially for lack of knowledge, will only drive folks back to internal combustion and perpetuates the myth that EVs are only for elitist assholes.

Sure, we occasionally see an article in which seeming intention—or, at least, willful abandon of common sense—contributes to a negative experience for someone with an electric axe to grind. Dawn was clearly not one of those. But regardless of the author—and especially with those who’ve made enough of a commitment to buy a plug-in in the first place, what’s needed most is open-minded advice and coaching, and perhaps even a little humility about the fact that some of this is daunting at the outset, every one was once a new to it, and EV and (especially) charging information is not always as consumer-friendly as it could be. Anyone who makes a sincere effort at this stage to join our ranks should be encouraged, not chastised.

More honey, less vinegar.

16 thoughts on “Catching flies..

  1. Tent or tents and, does (un)friendly rivalry have a place?

    I’m with you 100% on the shaming of those that can’t satisfy themselves with advice alone – those that feel they have to widen the gap by putting down the other person or target first – but, you mentioned the ‘tent’ and I’m feeling lately that ‘tents’ is much more applicable. As the body of EV drivers grows, there does seem to be a growing division between EV drivers and fans of their respective manufacturer, leading to these manufacturer specific groups. This has always been the case of course with with old-fashioned cars.

    PRO: There’s clearly benefit in focused groups – Join Lotus Talk and you’ll immediately receive a list of ‘crap’ bits on the cars that you should replace! A refreshingly honest group of folk. Join a BMW or Tesla focused EV group and you’ll get advice (sometimes _very_ wrong), opinion and also comradeship that’s rewarding. I’m also not totally convinced that a little inter-brand rivalry doesn’t actually help a bit; even the odd unhinged attack can have some merit if we’re to avoid a dystopian future where everyone is petrified of not giving everyone else a thumbs up all the time.

    CON: There’s the flip side that we’ve all seen, unhinged and unwarranted attacks on drivers of other cars – check out the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi EVO forums for a sample or, some of our Facebook EV groups.

    As you know, EAA and Plug In America try to foster the notion of ‘EV drivers’ over manufacturer specific interest and forums like SparkEV facilitate that but, I wonder if it’s too late and too big to fit in one tent. Perhaps it’s time to have a separate tent for EV enthusiasts and leave non-enthusiasts to chat among themselves about the awesome EV they’re driving and how they’re simply better than everyone else.

    Manufacturer fan forums and revelry; should we resist them, support them with a foot in every camp or ignore them as a fact of life?

    1. I hear you on the pluralism issue. For this post’s purposes, it’s a tent which refers to those who represent themselves as EV enthusiasts, as opposed to evangelists for a particular model or brand. But yes, of course there are many smaller tents in the EV world campground, and some people are members of many.

      But even subgroups of drivers and enthusiasts are nasty to each other on a regular basis, assuming ignorance or malice, etc. I generally think forums for individual models or interests are good, especially for advice or questions specific to that car. It also doesn’t seem unfair to expect adults to behave like such in any public forum, but the reality keeps even me from commenting in a few of them very much.

      There’s also a time and place for brand pride- and yes, even a little friendly feistiness, vs. a broader conversation, especially with a new or potential EV driver.

  2. Well said Chelsea.
    It should be noted that Green Car Reports is a moderated forum and that the dialogue would be even worse without the patient guidance of the moderator.

    I’ve gotten into some back and forth with someone that insists that plug-in electric vehicles are “gas” cars and do not deserve to be called “electric.” It got to the point of him implying that using gasoline was equivalent to robbing a bank (hopefully I misunderstood).

    The more people plugging in, the better in my opinion and they idea that I’m better than you when it comes to making long trips in an EV, is counterproductive (although I don’t blame Tesla owners for gloating a little as that technology and infrastructure is surely better.

  3. As you have said, EV road-trips get far more press than they should and they are not where EVs shine their brightest. I’ll defend the blogger a little bit, the GCR article took something he loved and put it in a bad light primarily due to the driver’s inexperience. If the article had been framed with the driver learning lessons, rather than the car’s inability, the blogger’s response might have been different. Ironically, in the blogger’s response, he has a story where he almost didn’t make it to the next charging station, so I think he’d agree w/ the GCR article that there are still infrastructure and range challenges.

    1. I disagree that “EV road trips get far more press than they should.” In fact I think that if the press were abundant enough and accurate, you might well not see situations where people who are new to EVs take off on trips that are beyond their level of expertise, regardless of vehicle.

  4. It really is sad, but not unexpected or new. Any group of people will eventually form some sort of orthodoxy among the members as a way to become first among equals as well way to ostracize the “johnny come latelys”. It really silly and does nothing to advance the community, EV or otherwise.

    We saw it in the EV hobby community 20+ years ago, then again when the first Hybrids came in (there is a great South Park episode about this) and then as the various other PHEV/BOEV vehicles came out. They self segregate into model fans at that point, Telsa/Bolt/Prius, just like Chevy/Ford/Dodge truck owners do.

    It is really up to those of us that have been doing this for years to show that just because you had your Bolt for a year longer than the other person, doesn’t mean you are any better than the new people who are just discovering the awesomeness of EVs. I think as we strive to be more welcoming to the new people, then incidents like this will fade away.

  5. Hi Chelsea,

    I couldn’t seem to directly post to WorldPress.com for some reason. Here’s what I was trying to post:

    Thanks Chelsea for your appeal to common courtesy, which unfortunately is not so common at a time when political correctness is viewed as a defect by many.

    As a president of a Tesla club, I should point out that while the vast majority of our members own or have Teslas on order, we deliberately chose to not make owning a Tesla an eligibility requirement for joining our club. While I make no apologies for promoting Tesla, we nevertheless are an EV advocacy group as well. Therefore, on our website, which is mostly private for our membership; and on our Facebook page, which is open to the public to attract new members; neither media channel has any articles that promote Teslas over other EVs or attempt to disparage competing EVs.

    Yes, as John C. Briggs remarks, it is easy for me to be tempted to gloat a little because, for the time being, we have a technology and infrastructure edge. Despite that apparent advantage, I stress to new or prospective EV owners that even now Teslas require more preplanning when taking road trips than gasoline or diesel vehicles. Without exercising a little common sense, even Teslas are going to find themselves on flatbed tow trucks.

    Competition is a good thing and there’s plenty of room under the tent.

    Larry

    Larry Chanin

    President, Florida Tesla Enthusiasts

    Cell: 941-504-0887

    Email: lfchanin@gmail.com

    Website: teslaownersflorida.org

    Facebook: Florida Tesla Enthusiasts

  6. I am a plug in EV enthusiast. I do own a Tesla Model S. I belong to EVOLVE KY an EV enthusiast group that goes to street fairs, Electric Drive Week events., etc. I disagree with some people here and there. But I can disagree without being disagreeable. The electric Spark has its place. The Tesla Model X has it’s place. But in my internet travels I find a lot of Foul and insulting language used. Name calling and vitriol does not do our cause any good. There is an Electric Vehicle for everyone; from the city dweller with a 5 mi commute to the rural resident with 100 mi to the nearest metropolitan are. We need to SMILE at anyone driving any electric vehicle or anyone asking questions. There is no “dumb question” unless they already know the answer. We need to help everyone be happy about driving, operating, or inquiring about an electric vehicle. I’ll talk about EV’s and smile with anyone from a 1960 pick up driver to a Ferrari driver . I once talked to and smiled with an indigent person on Medicaid about purchasing a used Nissan Leaf.

  7. When EV Chels speaks, we listen, for mature words of wisdom and experience are often needed in our chaotic and uncertain time. Let’s hope we all heed them better as this in not the first time they were spoken, and alas may not be the last. It may have been one person saying something inappropriate and stupid this time, but many of us didn’t speak out and all of us carry the responsibility of rejecting intolerance and hate.

  8. The sad truth is EVs aren’t perfect yet. Us early adopters love them and shout about how great they are at every opportunity but people aren’t stupid and honesty is definitely best, especially if you want people to make informed decisions about buying. I have had negative comments on my YouTube channel because I filmed during a day I had forgotten to charge and nearly didn’t make it to a charger. Apparently this was counterproductive! At the end I still concluded that the infrastructure in rural England was sufficient to get me out of trouble. Can’t please everyone. Us advocates need to keep producing positive but honest material in the hope more will follow 😁

    1. Absolutely! They’re better than gasoline cars in every single metric except they’re a little bit more expensive to buy at the moment and they typically don’t go as far before needing to find a refueling station. If we ourselves can still choose to value all the positives over the negatives then we’re probably not alone so yes, be honest and remember that, in time, those last negatives will be a thing of the past… just don’t use that as an excuse not to buy now!

  9. As an early BBS user and open source contributor, I would see the vitriol and berating of the new and inexperienced person who wandered into the community. “Hey NOOB – RTFM!” – even if it was an honest question or suggestion. These communities/projects soon were torn apart and failed. I see the same on some online EV forums. I full hearted agree with Chelsea. Moreover, I implore those who see such behavior to reach out to the one who is not so experienced and give a hand or even just a kind word. There is enough pollution in the world already.

  10. I save my ire for newbie fools who leave the EVSE whip lying on the ground, while reminding all that, “Every gallon you pump, is a vote for tRump”.

  11. As usual, thanks for your voice of reason and understanding, Chelsea. Alas! We live in an age of increasing incivility, from our worsening and widening partisan politics, to the enboldened, anonymous internet poster. But that does not mean we don’t stop trying to promote something better. Keep up the good fight- we’re getting closer to the tipping point in favor of electric vehicles;-)

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