See also: EUnanimous (kinda)
-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg just announced EV charging plans in his State of the City address. By this plan, the number of chargers should grow to 10,000 by 2020, from just over 200 now. Many would be in commercial parking structures, but there are also plans for on-street and residential (apartment/condo building) installations.
-Canadian restaurant chain Tim Horton’s just announced their EV plans. One location in Ontario already has two units; the company headquarters also had a unit installed for their trials/demos. No hard details were given on further Tim Horton’s locations, but it sounds like the emphasis is on construction of new restaurants.
What do I think of this? Tim Horton’s is great; what some tout as the Canadian “equivalent of McDonald’s” is highly accessible, highly visible, and it’s high time. Many places in Canada and the northern US already had plugs for block heaters or oil heaters, but not explicit and higher-powered EV connectors. New York City, however, is a mixed bag as far as I’m concerned. To a fair degree, electric cars don’t make much sense in Manhattan, since… private cars don’t make much sense in Manhattan, gas or otherwise. I can see this in the outer boroughs, though.
Both announcements have a major feature in common: both describe the laying of conduit, NOT the explicit mandate of a receptacle standard. You, as some person off the street, see a box on the wall, and may think that’s the big story, or the supply of juice. But as far as architecture and site management are concerned, it’s installation that’s the literal and financial barrier. For an interior charging point (apartment/condo garages or multilevel parking structures), you must bore through concrete (almost certainly reinforced), possibly multiple times, then patch the hole back after running a custom conduit job. Meanwhile, the conduit has to be up to code, possibly waterproof at some level. For an exterior charging point (surface lots) not against a building wall, add in a trench job. This means breaking pavement, then re-paving that pavement. This is all done by skilled labor, not some homeowner with a weekend free. Not cheap.
Both announcements, then, start with the part regular people forget: leaving a handy conduit in in the first place, while the site is under construction. WAY cheaper than having to hack through after the fact. Sites are then free to choose 5-15 and/or 5-20, some RV connector, the accepted J1772, or possibly one of the Level 3s if they have three-phase, 440-480V service. Or even some future connector we haven’t even seen yet.
As far as locations are concerned, note that Manhattan was already fairly well represented with charge points. Especially when you consider that basically no one needs a car: something like 40% of NYC residents don’t even get a driver’s license, and I’ll bet money Manhattan is over-represented in that number. If you live there, you walk, take the subway, a taxi, or for office groups, your company calls a livery driver. Car-sharing networks are also made for this sort of usage model. Manhattan residents with their own car often use them as weekend or other discretionary vehicles, and already have their parking situation figured out, often at a steep cost.
But the outer boroughs could use the infrastructure. The further you get from the East River, the sparser and sparser the offerings, and yet, the more you’d actually purchase and use your own car or motorcycle. And, of course, some of these residents commute into Manhattan. The presence of charge facilities (both at work, and along the way in or out) gives peace of mind and planning flexibility.
Staten Island, in particular, could use more sites. Many residents who drive out are actually going to New Jersey or Brooklyn, not Manhattan. And Staten Island itself is the kind of place where residents’ EVs make sense- dense enough for usage models of numerous, short trips, but not so dense that you’d just walk, bike, or hop in a cab or bus. The wise commander considers the terrain, then the weapon.