EV Chargers and Markets

October 12th, 2015

“Free” electric vehicle chargers are an excellent example of what happens when valuable resources are priced at zero:

The bad moods stem from the challenges drivers face finding recharging spots for their battery-powered cars. Unlike gas stations, charging stations are not yet in great supply, and that has led to sharp-elbowed competition. Electric-vehicle owners are unplugging one another’s cars, trading insults, and creating black markets and side deals to trade spots in corporate parking lots. The too-few-outlets problem is a familiar one in crowded cafes and airports, where people want to charge their phones or laptops. But the need can be more acute with cars — will their owners have enough juice to make it home? — and manners often go out the window.

There is always a cost, and the resource is always allocated in some manner. But it is usually in a much more arbitrary, inefficient, and unjust manner.