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Getting Americans to drive electric vehicles will first require enough charging stations

Charging stations for electric vehicles
Posted at 10:58 AM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 10:58:06-04

NEW YORK – Shenika Walker has a problem. She loves her electric vehicle but struggles to keep it charged.

“I’m just scared to break down on the highway, anytime,” Walker said as she waited to charge her car in Brooklyn.

Walker’s concern centers around the fact that she lives in an apartment with a landlord who has no plans to install a charging station.

Like many residents of American cities, Walker parks her car on the street, where there are no readily accessible stations.

As a result, she has to drive 30 minutes to a Walgreens parking lot to get her car charged, which creates anxiety between looking at the battery level and dealing with New York traffic.

“It takes me about a half-hour to come over here and charge my vehicle,” Walker said. “There are a lot of charging stations that aren’t working.”

A COMMON COMPLAINT

Renaee Reynolds with the Tri State Transportation Campaign says a lack of charging stations is a common complaint, even in America’s largest city.

While building EV infrastructure is a priority in most American cities, New York has unique challenges.

Landlords and condo building boards often debate the need for installing the stations. Others in the transportation community argue whether public transit funding should take precedence over electric car charging stations.

Reynolds estimates there are around 1,200 accessible stations in New York City, which has about 2 million registered cars.

Some private companies are also struggling to find space in a city already built to capacity, with accessibility remaining a big issue.

Many charging stations in New York exist in parking garages, where it can cost as much as $50 an hour to access them.

Reynolds says her focus is not in Manhattan but in areas like Queens, where 62% of people own a car, and electric vehicles will become more common in the coming years.

On the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, a neighborhood of about 110,000 people, there are no public charging stations. Homeowners may be able to install their own but renters with electric vehicles struggle.

“We have an infrastructure and accessibility issue,” Reynolds said.

WHAT WASHINGTON WANTS

Currently, electric vehicles make up around 2% of all car sales. That, however, is expected to change in the coming years.

GM has promised 30 new electric models by 2025. Ford wants 40% of its sales to be electric by 2030.

President Joe Biden knows Americans will be reluctant to buy electric cars if charging stations aren’t accessible. He wants 500,000 charging stations built by 2030.

The bipartisan infrastructure deal includes $7.5 billion to improve electric vehicle infrastructure. Whether that deal can pass Congress will be determined in the coming weeks.

RURAL AMERICA PUSHBACK

While drivers in cities like New York are open to driving electric, getting Americans in other parts of the country to switch will take more effort.

“I’m a Texas guy,” Earnest, an energy worker in Midland, Texas, said from the comfort of his truck.

He doesn’t like the idea of taxpayer money going to something he doesn’t plan on using.

“I think it would be a waste of money,” Earnest said. “Gas stations are there, I don’t pass any of them up, and you don’t have to sit around and wait.”

But even out in West Texas, it appears times are changing.

Caleb Borden is an energy worker and proud owner of a Tesla. Borden says the fact Tesla built their own super charging stations around the country made it easier for him to make the switch.

Borden also says more of his buddies are coming around to the idea of one day buying an electric car.

“I have buddies that have big trucks and stuff like that, and I take them for a ride in this, and they all like it,” Borden said.

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