VANCOUVER - Almost a quarter of electric vehicle drivers surveyed have argued with a fellow EV driver at a public charging station, and nearly one-third have witnessed such an argument, according to a survey of 1,162 drivers conducted by BC Hydro.

Part of owning an electric car is having to plug it in. Paul Lehal is used to it, but he also knows sometimes charging up can get ugly.

“I’ve definitely seen some angry people fighting for a spot," Lehal said. "I’ve heard of people fist fighting over these things or throwing things at each other."

According to the BC Hydro survey, Lehal is far from alone. More than 30 per cent of EV owners have had another EV driver unplug – or try to unplug – their car while it was charging. Similarly, 24 per cent said they experienced frustration when other EV drivers use a public charger to fully charge their vehicles.

“They think it’s like their personal charging station and they keep their car there for over an hour,” said EV driver Ken Green.

“We want to educate people about the etiquette of EV charging, because whenever you have a new technology there are some growing pains,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Susie Rieder.

Parking in an EV charging spot without actually charging is also a big no-no, which is how drivers of gas powered cars play a role in the conflicts.

“I don’t really care," said Dima Roma, who drives a conventional vehicle. "I take their parking space if I need it."

The survey also found 30 per cent of non-EV drivers think it is unfair when charging stations take up prime parking spots, while 42 per cent of EV drivers want even more priority.

“There are still more electric vehicles than there are charging stations,” said EV owner Felica Scott.

In B.C., there are about 26,000 electric vehicles on the road and by 2030 Rieder says it is predicted that number will jump to 400,000. While infrastructure is expanding, it may not be expanding quickly enough, which is why BC Hydro hopes more people adopt at-home charging stations. The company is offering rebates for those who install such stations.

“It not only reduces conflicts, it’s extremely convenient," Rieder said. "You are plugging in your car like you would your phone at night."