Can 10,000 Charging Stations Make New York City America’s Top EV Market?

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Michael Bloomberg may be entering his last year as New York City’s Mayor, but one final policy push could keep the city’s electrified transportation outlook growing for years and years as falling prices make electric vehicles affordable for more drivers.

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg picture courtesy New York City Mayor’s Office

In his final State of the City address, Mayor Bloomberg outlined plans to make New York City “a national leader” in EV technology through a drastic expansion in charging infrastructure and EV fleets.

Massive Jump In Public Charging Stations

The EV infrastructure push centers on a series of building code amendments that could create up to 10,000 new parking spots to charge EVs by 2020. The amendments will require up to 20 percent of all new public parking spaces in private developments to be wired and ready for EV chargers to be installed as demand grows.

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Many of the specific details will have to be worked out with the city council, but as envisioned, electrical conduits would be built into all structures during construction. Wiring could then be easily installed without retrofits, and EV chargers installed as more vehicles hit city streets and increase demand. These spaces would most likely serve as Level II chargers, which take several hours to deliver a full battery charge.

Electrifying NYC’s Taxi And City Vehicle Fleets  

Bloomberg also announced the city will install two Level III fast chargers as part of a curbside charging pilot program. Two 480-volt charging stations will be opened in Manhattan and provide 30-minute charging, with one open to the public and one reserved for six Nissan Leaf EVs that will begin service in the city’s taxi fleet at some point in 2013.

And those six electrified taxis are just the vanguard of a larger shift, said the mayor. 50 more EVs will be added to the city’s vehicle fleet, joining 450 other plug-ins already in service, and the Taxi and Limousine Commission will set a goal of ensuring one-third the entire taxi fleet was electrified by 2020. Considering the last comprehensive assessment pegged the city’s total taxis at 13,000 vehicles, that’s quite an electric expansion.

Charging Even More Important In New York

Increasing charging options is always key, but it’s even more critical in the Big Apple. Most suburban EV drivers can fall back on the ability to charge their batteries at home, but that’s a luxury city drivers can’t afford when they’re circling their block looking for a place to park or pulling into a public garage near their destination.

The typical level of range anxiety can be even worse during the winter, when EV batteries can lose up to a third of their range during the coldest months. A recent report prepared for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) found that much more public EV charging infrastructure was needed to help the region meet its full EV integration potential.

Once completed, Bloomberg’s EV push could help New York City compete with California’s push to be the country’s hottest electrified transportation market and give drivers a new sense of comfort investing in an EV. But at the very least, it will certainly help prevent wayward reporters from running out of power on the side of a road.

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