Video: EV Owner Dons Suit, Tie to Tell Electric Car Charging Providers to Sort Out Fast Charging

The lack of interoperability between different electric car charging networks is a well-known curse to electric car drivers, filling up many forums as plug-in car owners ask time and time again why different charging providers just can’t get along — and why paying for electricity to charge your car isn’t as easy as paying for gasoline.

We've all been there: a charging station which won't accept your charge card.

Using public charging infrastructure isn’t always this easy.

In some countries, there are so many different charging networks that drivers need to carry a wallet of access cards and key fobs just to ensure that they can charge up at every charging station they encounter. Even then, there’s usually at least one charging station that doesn’t want to play ball.

But while most of us have taken to venting our frustration on social media networks when things don’t go our way, one New Zealander decided there was only one way to highlight the frustration of the longer-distance electric car owner: dress up in a suit and tie and make a formal video complaint.

Enter New Zealand native and plug-in driver Gavin Shoebridge, who chose to turn the misfortune of a recent failed fast charging experience into an entertaining and informative video on the trials and tribulations of public charging infrastructure.

It’s a video that anyone who has been in the same situation will instantly warm to.

As those who have been around in the plug-in vehicle world for any length of time will know, Gavin ‘KiwiEV’ Shoebridge first shot to YouTube fame eight years ago when he converted a dead 1987 Mitsubishi Tredia to run on electricity.

His videos were informative, fun, and most importantly, showed how easy it was to get into electric cars in an age long before the Nissan LEAF or Chevrolet Volt.

Gavin's previous car was a home-converted 1987 Mitsubishi Tredia

Gavin’s previous car was a home-converted 1987 Mitsubishi Tredia (Photo:

Despite a year and a half of fun with an electric car, Gavin had to part with his converted car all too soon as rust and the global economic crisis hit in a double-whammy of bad luck. Deciding to move to his wife’s native Slovakia, Gavin was forced to shelve his dream of electric vehicle ownership and started a new chapter of his life in the centre of Europe.

Even though his time with that home-made electric car was relatively short, Gavin maintains that his love of electric cars has never waved, and has spent most of the intervening years trying to figure out a way to build or buy another electric car.

So when he discovered that legal red tape in Slovakia made it almost impossible to build an electric car from scratch, he did the only thing he could: started saving for a production electric car of his own.

After years of hard work in his day job that day came earlier this spring, when he stumbled on a nearly-new Peugeot iOn electric car for sale. After a quick, intoxicating drive, an offer was accepted on the car — essentially a rebadged Mitsubishi i-Miev — and Gavin was yet again Kiwi EV, complete with a personalised license plate to prove it.

Since then, we — and we’re sure many others — have been enjoying watching Gavin find his feet again as an electric car owner, enjoying the thrill of not having to pay for gasoline, the quiet smooth ride of an electric car, and the various day trips possible only when the cost of fuelling your vehicle for the trip is negligible.

The new KiwiEV: a Peugeot iOn electric car -- essentially a rebadged Mitsubishi i-Miev

The new KiwiEV: a Peugeot iOn electric car — essentially a rebadged Mitsubishi i-Miev. (Photo:

Which brings us nicely onto the problem at hand. Recently, Gavin decided to take a weekend trip over the border from Slovakia to Austria in order to purchase salted liquorish, a delicacy that isn’t easy to obtain in his new home of Bratislava.

With his electric car fully charged, he set off for Vienna — about a full charge away — with the aim of using an Austrian fast charger to replenish his Peugeot iOn’s battery pack before heading home. Checking on the charge status before he left, Gavin was sure the VIBRATe charge car he owned would grant him access to the charging station. Designed to supposedly operate across the entire VIBRATe Vienna-Bratislava electromobility network of electric car fast charging networks, Gavin said he was convinced there wouldn’t be an issue.

After more than 30 minutes on the telephone to the charging provider in Vienna — and despite the support team trying everything they could to force the charger to accept his card — Gavin was left with no other option but to find somewhere else to charge.

“I offered to pay with a credit card to recharge my car at the fast charger if it was a payment issue, but it was due to technical incompatibility combined. To use that quick charger I needed a different card with a different company,” he told us via email earlier.

Gavin loves driving his electric car -- but his most recent trip tested his patience.

Gavin loves driving his electric car — but his most recent trip tested his patience. (Photo:

It’s a problem we know only too well. Last year, we abandoned a cross-European trip by electric car after crossing into mainland Europe slowed progress to a glacial crawl thanks to inoperable public charging infrastructure.

In Gavin’s case, the only solution left was a slow charging station in a parking garage. With an Internal Combustion Engine car blocking direct access to the charging station, Gavin was forced to execute a rather unusual parking manoeuvre to ensure the charge cable reached the back of his bright red car. And then wait for three hours for enough charge to make it home.

As he notes in his video, there are plenty of worse places to be stranded than Vienna, Austria, but in conclusion, Gavin’s point hits the mark perfectly.

“Fast charge providers,” he says, suited up despite the hot summer weather. “I can drive into any gas station in any country on earth with just cash or a credit card and I know that I can fill up and drive away.”

“Electric car fast charging station MUST be that easy for mass adoption. I should be able to pay by credit card. I should be able to pay by SMS. Just give me option to pay to buy your product. Don’t make me sign up for ten thousand membership cards.”

“Electric car technology is not holding them back anymore,” he continues. “The batteries are great. The cost of electric cars is not holding them back any more. The only thing holding up mass adoption is you guys,” he says, pointing at the camera.

We’re sure plenty of electric car fans around the world agree with Gavin’s well-presented appeal, but we’re curious as to how many charging providers will take notice.

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • Surya

    I couldn’t agree more. Why is this so hard?
    We’re seeing more and more providers make their networks available to partners, which is great, but we’re a long way from just driving up and knowing it will work. A very long way. Luckily I haven’t had too many problems like these in situations where I had no other options.
    So for now: inform yourself before going anywhere.

  • Objective

    Why didn’t he just order the licorice (or whatever). Did he really need to drive a 1000+ kg vehicle 100+ km’s for 5 kg of candy? Is that kind of behavior sustainable?

    • Shipping is often a pain across borders, whereas they let you carry a reasonable amount of groceries…

      • Objective

        Everybody has an excuse why they should be entitled to waste energy as they see fit. The same people usually have a lot to say about how others get and use their energy though, don’t they?

  • Using loyalty or membership cards as the primary method to activate a charge is a very bad idea.

    If EV infrastructure providers want to issue loyalty cards and offer discounts, that’s great, but as the driver in this article points out a Credit Card should be good enough to start a charge.

    It should be like visiting the grocery store. You pay with conventional methods and you can get a better price by using a loyalty card.

    Payment and charge activation needs to be as frictionless as possible, otherwise the provider limits their potential sales to a subset of the EV marketplace.

    • Matthew11

      Some like chargepoint do allow credit card starts like chargepoint with member cards or the phone app giving you benefits like monitoring your charge stats and phone notifications on charge status or if you are unplugged, but most either require a card or calling a number to activate or an app or some combination, it is frustrating. I stick mostly to the chargepoint network when possible simply because it is easier to use but fast chargers are the worst, they are all over the place, some even require you to get an attendant to activate them.

      I suspect part of the problem with one card fits all solutions would be privacy laws being an issue for sharing information across different providers but there should be some basic access using a credit card just like any parking lot has these days for parking.

  • jeffsongster

    Fun video that makes a great point about charge network interoperability. Napkin scene cracked me up. Glad he finally wandered out of the garage. I can’t ever imagine being that bored in a city that seems as nice as Vienna. Gotta get there someday.

  • BenBrownEA

    I don’t think gasoline vehicles would be used as much if I had to have a square coin for the BP gas station, and oval one for the Exxon gas station, a triangular one for the… on and on. This is indeed crazy ape-compost!. I am glad most of the sites in a several hour range of here use ChargePoint and the rates have not been extortionistly high.

  • Michael Eric Menk

    Have a store nearby selling prepaid cards would solve the problems for tourists…

    For Ev owners traving to Norway, some of the Statoil gasoline stations have fastchargers, where you can pay with cash or plastic…

  • Carney3

    The problem is that electricity is so cheap relative to gasoline that it’s much harder for an electric fast charger to recoup the expense of adding a credit card reader, and of paying credit card swipe fees. It’s the same reason that many retail establishments require a purchase be no lower than a given amount if you’re going to use the credit card.

  • Pingback: EV Fast Charging starting to take off, at last…. - Solar Thermal Magazine()

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