New York City Hopes Infrastructure Brings Electric Car Sales

New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, opened the first charging station for electric vehicles last Wednesday in a commercial parking lot, bringing attention once again to the nationwide push to build infrastructure supporting electric cars.

Bloomberg said, “We want New York to be prepared when people start buying them.” The mayor is the creator of an ambitious plan to reduce New York City’s carbon footprint.

A number of major automakers, including Ford, Chevrolet, Nissan and Daimler, are working to produce electric models and Tesla Motors already makes a battery powered high-end sports car.

The federal economic stimulus package included money that is being distributed by the U.S. Department of Energy to fund the construction of the charging stations in a number of larger cities, including Detroit, Austin and San Francisco.

President Obama will be attending a groundbreaking ceremony today in Holland, Michigan for an advanced vehicle battery factory, bringing attention to the industry-wide changes taking place.

Coulomb Technologies of California will be using Department of Energy and other funds to build New York’s charging stations and others like it in eight other metro locations. Richard Lowenthal, CEO of Coulomb, says he hopes to build 5,000 chargers by October 2011.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan was sent by the Obama administration to promote the new project and create jobs associated with the new charging facilities. He said, “Mechanics, electricians and construction workers will pioneer the first wave of green technology.” Officials admit, however, that the jobs created by the project will be limited. The process of installing the charging facilities requires three people and can be completed in a single day.

In New York, the charging stations will be built in public lots to enable charging while people are at work. There will also be installations in private garages for apartment buildings. CEO Lowenthal expects that a total of approximately 200-300 charging stations will be installed in New York City. “If you want one, go on our website and request one,” he said.

Forty charging units will be installed for use by the city’s municipal fleet.  Mayor Bloomberg said that the city has about 6,000 electric vehicles in its fleet now. One charger will also be installed at a mid-town Manhattan Hertz location that will lease Nissan LEAF electric cars.

When asked if he would drive an electric vehicle, Bloomberg said he’d like to, but “There is not a fast enough and big enough electric vehicle. I typically have a lot of people with me. But, I would do it if I could because I believe in leading by example.”

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