Chevy Volt

Owning an electric car with a reasonable range could be a very practical solution for many drivers. After all, pulling into the garage at the end of the day and plugging in your car can be a huge time saver if it means you can forgo the gas pump, not to mention the potential environmental benefits. That is, if you have access to a plug.

As we recently found out after driving a 2011 Nissan Leaf for a week, the availability of electrical outlets can be a major downer on EV ownership. Our test car spent a week in the Phoenix, AZ area, and was parked overnight in a covered parking garage. No problem, since there were indeed unused outlets in the structure, so we could plug it in. Except that we couldn't.

It seems the property management company that oversees the garage decided that electric cars were not allowed to draw power. The problem, as so often is the case, came down to monetary concerns. It seems that, without having a way to measure how much power was being consumed by the electric car, management decided it could not accurately charge the driver for any electricity consumed. This is despite the fact that the garage serves a building with tenants that pay the electricity bill.

We understood the monetary aspects involved, so we offered to pay the property management company a fee of their choosing (after jointly considering local rates) to use an outlet for a week, which was declined. The end result? We charged the Leaf at the nearest local Nissan dealer free of charge.

It turns out ours wasn't an isolated issue. According to a report from TheTruthAboutCars.com, at least one Chevrolet Volt owner in Ontario, Canada has been blocked from charging his car in his unit's parking garage unless he installs his own separate charging system. Interestingly enough, something similar also happened to Derek Kreindler, who wrote the story for TTAC.

We don't really see an easy solution to this problem, so we suggest speaking to your property management company, if applicable, before signing on the electrified dotted line... or at least know where your nearest fast charger is located.