Electric Cars In NYC
Earlier this month Volvo announced its plan to stop selling purely non-electric cars by 2025. And by 2030, no hybrids either; its entire fleet will be incapable of consuming fossil fuels. Kudos to them for stepping up their ecological stewardship. But as a native resident of the Big Apple, I have to wonder whether they’re effectively refusing to sell to New Yorkers.
There are plenty of quiet neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and my home borough of the Bronx. But I grew up in a 4th-floor apartment near Yankee Stadium. We parked our car on the street, where spaces were weren’t exactly plentiful. And while I remember seeing electricity get siphoned out of street lights in order to power turntables for the occasional jam, there really would’ve been no way to charge each of the dozens of cars that were typically parked on my block. And while many Manhattanites don’t own cars, quite a few do, and park on the street just like we did.
Indeed, according to Chris Nelder, who manages the Rocky Mountain Institute’s electric vehicle grid integration group, only around 60 percent of Americans live in single-family homes. Nearly a year ago, in April of last year, he prognosticated, “There’s no doubt the cars are coming, so we should stop waffling and start building some charging infrastructure.”
Well, Joe Biden may have been listening. The infrastructure bill that the President’s team recently prepared reportedly includes the construction of electric vehicle charging stations among its several aims. Still, outside of Staten Island, there isn’t much undeveloped real estate in New York City.
Mere days before Mr. Nelder also said, “Unless there’s a charger at work or your apartment, or damn close to it, it’s not practical to buy an (electric vehicle),” charging station chain Blink introduced a portable, mobile charger for electric vehicles. But it’s intended to be carried and used by roadside assistance. While a traditional car owner can call AAA and have a few gallons of gas driven out to him, the Blink charger can be driven out to an electric car owner when he runs out of juice.
It loosely reminds me of how we adapted to the rash of stolen car radios that afflicted the city during my Yankee Stadium years. Eventually, we got a detachable one, which was designed to be pulled out of its socket, carried home by the driver, and slid back in upon the driver’s return. I imagine that a similar solution will ultimately need to be implemented as gasoline-consuming cars eventually get all but phased out of existence; there will need to be a battery that can be charged in the driver’s apartment, carried to the car, quickly installed, and then quickly removed after the driver has parked on the street.
Maybe Volvo can develop such a thing.
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