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New York City Needs More Electric Vehicle Chargers

Electric vehicles are rapidly gaining popularity in New York City and the surrounding region. Once seen as a niche choice for well-off environmentalists, EVs have been embraced by the auto industry and have transformed the car-buying experience from one of routine visits to gas stations into a more convenient, streamlined affair that requires less maintenance than traditional engines.

But a lot of work is needed to make EVs more appealing for most drivers, especially in low-income neighborhoods. For example, electric vehicle buyers often must pay for their own home charging equipment, and public stations can be far from residences in many cases. Additionally, EVs use different connectors than the standard gasoline pumps you’re used to seeing on the side of the road. Tesla, for example, uses its own fast chargers at Supercharger locations, while most of the country’s public stations feature slower connectors like CHAdeMO or J1172, and manufacturers are selling converters to allow EV owners to use both types of public charging infrastructure.

Despite the many barriers to widespread EV adoption, there’s a growing appetite for these cars in communities across the state, including among low-income residents. New York, along with Connecticut and New Jersey, offers significant consumer rebates to encourage EV purchases and is in the process of installing more public charging stations. And for the first time, lower manufacturing costs and intense competition have brought sticker prices for battery-powered cars to within striking distance of those for conventional gasoline models.

EVs also have the potential to reduce emissions, depending on the model. All-electric vehicles emit zero tailpipe emissions and hybrid¬†Nearby electric vehicles (HEVs) emit significantly fewer when operating in a fully electric mode than they do when running on gasoline or diesel. And if the electricity comes from a renewable source, it’s even more environmentally friendly.

But all of these benefits depend on a massive investment in the nation’s electrical system and the installation of more EV chargers. To support the high levels of energy needed to power EVs, the electricity grid will need to install more transformers at roadside utility poles. These larger, heavier transformers will shorten the life span of the 180 million existing ones and require a costly overhaul of the national network. In addition, a massive expansion of EV charging could increase stress on the country’s already strained transmission and distribution networks, creating an expensive obstacle for the broader adoption of EVs. Moreover, banning cars with combustion engines entirely would create draconian impediments to affordable and convenient driving and misallocate billions of dollars in the world’s $4 trillion automotive industry.

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