The smart city’s blueprint for EV infrastructure
Posted by Alana Miller
Ben Lambert, a 34-year-old who manages fundraising efforts for a number of nonprofits, lives in one of Denver’s densest residential neighborhoods: Capitol Hill. The area surrounds Colorado’s capitol building and is home to museums, concert venues and restaurants. The housing stock consists mostly of apartment buildings and tightly packed homes.
Lambert’s apartment building has a small off-street parking area in the alley, with four spots for more than 15 units in the building, so most residents park on the street. He doesn’t own a car, but if he needed to buy one, he’d want an electric vehicle (EV). Which raises the question: If Lambert did buy an EV, where could he charge it?
It is a question coming up with increasing frequency as EVs grow in popularity. Research suggests (PDF) that only about half of vehicles in the U.S. have a dedicated off-street parking space, such as a driveway or garage. In dense areas of cities across the country, residents rely on on-street parking to park their vehicles at home.
Studies also have found that most electric vehicle owners prefer to charge at home, with some projections (PDF) assuming nearly 90 percent of EV charging will happen at home. With more electric cars on the road, and many more coming soon, cities will face the challenge of where electric vehicles will charge, particularly in city centers and neighborhoods without off-street residential parking.
A political and technical challenge
Providing EV charging in dense city neighborhoods brings its own set of challenges. A case in point is Philadelphia, which recently put on hold a 10-year old program that allowed residents to apply for, and install, electric vehicle charging stations near their homes.
By 2017, Philadelphia residents had obtained permits for or installed 67 electric vehicle spots, using just a tiny share of the city’s 43,000 permitted or metered on-street parking spaces, more than 46,000 garage or lot parking spaces (PDF) and vast number of free, unmetered spaces.
Despite the program’s limited reach, vocal opponents blamed the program for exacerbating parking shortages in neighborhoods. With large numbers of electric vehicles expected in Philadelphia (and cities around the country) in coming years, closing off opportunities to expand EV charging is heading in exactly the wrong direction.
Fortunately, there are many models of how cities around the world are tackling the urban EV charging problem with innovative solutions to expand access to charging infrastructure, including along public streets.
Recently, Frontier Group and PennEnvironment authored a report, “Plugging In: Readying America’s Cities for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles,” which highlights some examples, including:
- In London, residents can request that charging stations be installed on their block. A company, Ubitricity, will install EV charging plugs on lampposts on the requested block and send customers a cord to charge their vehicle. Los Angeles is also deploying charging stations on streetlights in the city.
- The New Orleans City Council unanimously passed legislation in September allowing residents to apply for permits to install electric vehicle charging stations in front of their homes, on public property. Seattle also has started a similar pilot program.
- In the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, Allego, a private company, partners with municipalities to facilitate installation of chargers in front of people’s homes. The company installs the charger for no cost and bills customers for electricity usage.
- Singapore’s electric carsharing program, which launched in December, plans to make 400 of its charging stations available to all EV drivers needing a charge.
- The city of Utrecht, in the Netherlands, offers strong subsidies for “semi-public” charging stations, which are on private property but available for some public use.
The need for a comprehensive strategy
In the absence of a comprehensive approach to parking, however, it may be hard for cities to follow the example of EV leaders around the world.
“Plugging In” argues that expanding shared mobility, electrified public transit, safe biking and walking, and other transportation options — as well as reforms in parking pricing — can reduce competition for on-street parking that might crowd out space for EV charging. These reforms also support the creation of walkable communities where people have a variety of low-carbon and zero-carbon transportation options.
Specific tools include:
Carsharing: One reason for competition over scarce parking is that many people — even residents of cities with transit service — may feel the need to own a car to meet their mobility needs. As the typical car is parked and idle 95 percent of the time, dependence on privately owned vehicles creates tremendous demand for places to store vehicles.
Expanding access to shared mobility services in dense urban areas has the potential to reduce overall competition for parking, creating the potential to use some on-street spaces for EV charging.
Electric bikesharing: Access to shared bicycles can help address many transportation challenges, particularly when paired with other forms of transit and shared mobility. Electric bicycles make riding a bike even more accessible for the public and can enable more residents to travel without a car.
Rationalizing parking: By reducing free parking, and by charging more in areas where there is more demand, cities can address the perceived problem of parking scarcity, ensuring that any surplus of existing spaces can be used efficiently, including spaces dedicated for electric vehicles.
Encouraged shared parking: In this case, private parking lots are used for a variety of purposes. For example, for employee parking during the day and residential parking at night. Shared parking eliminates duplicative parking spaces that are tailored for specific uses, and, if equipped with EV chargers available to the public, can help expand the availability of charging infrastructure as well.
In the next 10 to 15 years, cities across the U.S. can expect tremendous growth in electric vehicles — with projections estimating that 20 percent of new cars could be electric as soon as 2030.
If cities wish to obtain the environmental, public health and quality of life benefits of electric vehicles — and meet the needs of their residents — they will need to plan for the dramatic expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, including in residential neighborhoods where off-street parking is limited.
Cities should plan for this transition in the context of an overall mobility transition that encourages the use of public transportation, shared mobility services, bicycling and walking.
A transition that reduces demand for parking from private vehicles — while creating new charging opportunities for both privately owned and shared electric vehicles — can deliver a powerful “win-win” for cities and help propel America toward a clean, efficient, zero-carbon transportation system.
Lightning Systems Announces Multistate Road Show for All-Electric Ford Transit
Lightning Systems, a developer of zero-emissions solutions for commercial fleets, is taking its new Ford Transit LightningElectric model on the road, showcasing the recently released vehicle efficiency ratings of 61 MPGe on in-town routes and 66 MPGe on highway.
Tours will start at Lightning Systems’ headquarters in Loveland, Colo. One will go westbound to California and throughout the state (Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, San Diego, Los Angeles and Long Beach), while the other will travel eastbound through Detroit to New York (Kansas City, Detroit, Albany and New York City). The westbound tour will end at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Long Beach, Calif., while the eastbound tour will culminate at the 30th annual Equipment & Vehicle Show in Queens, N.Y.
At the end of the eastbound and westbound tours, Lightning Systems will make deliveries of the LightningElectric to Halo Event Group, a FedEx Ground contractor in New York City, and to XPO Bus Sales in Los Angeles.
Test drives will be offered at the following tour stops:
Loveland – April 3
Kansas City – April 11-13
Detroit – April 16-20
New York City – April 24-27
Queens, Equipment & Vehicle Show – May 17
Sacramento – April 10-11
San Francisco – April 12-13
Fresno – April 16-17
Bakersfield – April 18
San Diego – April 23-25
Los Angeles – April 26-30
Long Beach, ACT Expo – May 1-3
“The upcoming road show is a great chance for fleets to experience firsthand how quiet, smooth and powerful the new LightningElectric is,” says Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning Systems. “It comes with all the benefits fleets expect from a Ford vehicle – interior comfort, warranty, and top-class fit and finish – with the added benefits of a zero-emissions electric vehicle, like instant acceleration and lower maintenance costs.”
CATS to roll out electric buses this year
Posted by Alexandria Burris
Via Greater Baton Rouge Business Report
Looking to reduce costs and replace aging diesel buses, the Capital Area Transit System is joining with other transit agencies across the country to incorporate battery powered electric buses into their fleets.
CATS recently spent $2.8 million for three electric buses from Los Angeles-based BYD, the largest battery-electric bus manufacturer in North America, and will begin field testing the vehicles later this year.
“Electric buses are a big step forward,” CATS Board President Jim Brandt says in a statement. “They represent a chance to pilot new technology in Baton Rouge, and we are very excited about that.”The buses have zero emissions and cost roughly $1 less per mile to operate than typical diesel buses.
CATS plans to run the electric buses on three lines: Plank Road and Florida Boulevard and perhaps, says Brandt, Nicholson Drive. Each vehicle can operate for approximately 150 miles on a single charge and hold up to 32 passengers.
“These buses will allow us to see how we can use electric buses to reduce the impact of our fleet on our environment and also control costs,” CATS CEO Bill Deville says.
CATS began exploring the use of electric buses several years ago, asking UNO in 2015 to do a cost-benefit analysis on alternative fuel options. The study recommended CATS transition to electric buses for the long term.
GM plans to expand Bolt EV output, asks Congress to help
Posted by David Shepardson
General Motors Co (GM.N) Chief Executive Mary Barra called on the U.S. Congress on Wednesday to expand a consumer tax credit for electric vehicles as the automaker said it would boost production of its EV Chevrolet Bolt in response to strong demand.
Barra also called on U.S. regulators to take into account when scoring automakers’ emissions the potential for autonomous ridesharing vehicles to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and petroleum consumption. The Trump administration is reviewing whether Obama administration emissions standards that called for roughly doubling average U.S. vehicle fuel efficiency by 2025 are appropriate.
“We feel tax credits should be expanded so our customers continue to receive the benefit going forward,” Barra told an energy conference in Houston. “We believe in an all-electric future.”
GM has sold more than 160,000 plug-in and full-electric vehicles eligible for the credit. The $7,500 consumer tax credit phases out over a 12-month-period soon after an automaker hits the 200,000 mark and the largest U.S. automaker is expected to hit the mark later this year. The tax credit is aimed at helping defray the cost of pricier electric vehicles.
Introduced in October 2016, the Bolt was the first mass-produced electric vehicle to go more than 200 miles (320 km) between charges, and sell at a sticker price of under $40,000.
Electrically powered vehicles account for a just a fraction of GM’s overall sales. In 2017, an analyst estimated GM loses $7,400 on every Bolt it sells. GM does not disclose individual vehicle profitability, company spokesman Pat Morrissey said by phone.
GM sold about 26,000 Bolt EVs worldwide last year, mostly in the United States. The company declined to say how much it would hike production when it adds production later this year at an assembly plant north of Detroit.
Goodyear unveils new tire for electric cars to reduce wear from powerful instant torque
Posted by Fred Lambert
There’s no getting around it, the instant torque of electric vehicles can be quite hard on tires – especially with the heavier and more powerful models, like Tesla’s.
Goodyear claims to have a solution with a new tire aimed at the electric vehicle market.
At the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show this week, they unveiled the “EfficientGrip Performance with Electric Drive Technology”, which they claim will reduce the wear from high torque.
Chris Delaney, President of Goodyear Europe, Middle East and Africa, says that they are working to bring the technology to market next year:
“The combination of increasing regulations to reduce emissions, the desire to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and rapid gains in battery technology is creating an ideal environment for electric vehicles. We are working with automakers to introduce our Electric Drive Technology next year designed to address the unique performance requirements of this growing vehicle segment.”