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The Electric Vehicle-Doing the Ordinary, Extraordinarily Well

By Doug McMahon, VP of Corporate Strategy and Matthew Lichtash, Evolve NY Program Transportation Analyst, New York Power Authority

The Electric Vehicle-Doing the Ordinary, Extraordinarily WellDoug McMahon, VP of Corporate Strategy and Matthew Lichtash, Evolve NY Program Transportation Analyst, New York Power Authority

There is nothing ordinary about electric vehicles. They are smarter, simpler, cleaner and less expensive from a total cost of ownership perspective than their gasoline cousins. Yet, what if the society needs to think of them as normal, average, part of the status quo, in order to get to a critical mass of adoption?

In response to New York putting in place the most ambitious decarbonization targets in the US, NYPA, the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, has committed to spend $250 million over the next five years to accelerate the transition to vehicle electrification across the state. Through our EVolve NY program, we are building a robust network of up to 800 150 kw public fast chargers (with an initial phase of 200 by 2020), electrifying our customers fleets, and creating model EV Communities.

At its heart, the EV adoption challenge remains one of human nature and the way mankind chooses to engage with new technology. How do we accelerate the shift to EVs beyond the initial early adopters (fewer than two percent of Americans)? These early adopters are the first innovative adopters of technology—characterized by strong interest in new technology and an understanding of the early risks of adoption.

To meet New York State’s ambitious 2030 environmental goals, we must reduce emissions across our economy by 40 percent.

“Through our EVolve NY program, we are building a robust network of up to 800 150 kw public fast chargers, electrifying our customers fleets, and creating model EV Communities”

This equates to about 30 percent EV adoption, or roughly three million vehicles on our roads in the next 10 years (we have 15,000 full battery electric vehicles today). This means not only do we need to get the innovative adopters into EVs (the first few percent of Americans), but the early adopters (the next 15 percent) and a good number of the more mainstream adopters (the next 35 percent).To make this happen, we must both increase awareness of electric vehicles and remove the consumer apprehension that still exists today.

Think about it. Less than three years ago people wearing wireless headphones would be looked upon with a combination of confusion and intrigue. How do they work? How long do they last? How do you not lose them? They must be expensive? Yet today, they are a permanent feature in the ears of millions of commuters on the streets of our cities—they have become normalized.

Awareness, education, and exposure are critical if something new is to become the norm. We covet what we see and fear what we do not understand. The main reason why people buy solar panels for their homes is because their neighbors and friends have already done the same. While EV education and awareness efforts are taking place in the transportation sector, much target those who are already considering switching vehicles. At NYPA, we feel that more effort should be given to getting the public comfortable with EVs before they are even thinking of buying a new car—so when they do look to make a change, EVs are the natural choice.

So in an attempt to make the electric vehicle ordinary, familiar and delightfully humdrum, please see below five of our favorite stats.

1. For those who navigate the daily grind: The average New Yorker drives less than 40 miles a day, and 95 percent of all trips are less than 30 miles. The average range of current EVs is over 200 miles, or enough to cover four to five days of driving. Furthermore for longer trips of more than 200 miles, the EVolve NY team is building a statewide backbone of DC Fast Chargers.

2. For the careful financial planner: When monthly fueling, insurance, maintenance and depreciation are considered, the total cost of ownership over an EVs lifetime can be thousands of dollars less than the gasoline equivalent. One reason for this is that the typical EV drive train contains less than 20 moving parts vs. the 2000 moving parts of a gasoline vehicle drive train.

3. For those who treasure every spare minute: 80-90 percent of all charging is done at home while you sleep. If you have a dedicated place to park (garage, driveway, etc.), all you need is a 240 volt, 30-50 amp outlet similar to an electric dryer. With 20-30 miles of range added per hour when charging, the typical driver can charge for tomorrow’s use in less than two hours.

4. For the person who likes to save a little every day: The typical cost of an eGallon (EV equivalent to a gallon of gasoline) is somewhere in the region of $1-$2 depending on whether you live in upstate or downstate NY. Something to think about the next time you are filling up at the pump.

5. For the road warrior: With the 50 or so new fast charging locations (comprising 200 individual charging ports) EVolve NY will deploy across NY State in 2020—from Buffalo to Brooklyn, and Montauk to Montreal—and with charging speeds of over 10 miles plus  per minute, it may take less than 20 minutes to charge your vehicle—all while you take a break to eat, shop or stretch the legs. The cost for EVolve NY fast charging will be comparable to regular gas but remember, for most drivers, public fast charging will be the exception, not the rule.

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