How are they intending to have electric-car charging stations in urban areas?

I’ve spent much of my life living in areas like Manhattan, some of those years as a car-owner who (tried to) park on the street, and I can’t figure out where the charging-stations would go. First place, I used to park my car for days at a stretch any available park space I could find. I would walk five sometimes ten blocks to reach my car, and it was a hassle (forcing me out of the city eventually). But if I had to leave it charging for hours in some place even less accessible (a mile or two away, say) I couldn’t even consider having a car. How are the plans accounting for dense urban areas?

One thing I heard that Tesla is doing is having the ability of owners sharing their charging stations with other owners. The charging station would need to be accessible, not in a garage. You in kind could use other peoples stations. I could see that being a good option if all you were looking for was a quick boost for about 10 or 15 minutes.

I’ve heard the idea of adding chargers to streetlight poles. I think there was a company in Europe doing this.

(Found it. Owned by Shell Oil now.)

Friend of mine owned a condo in downtown Toronto and had a simple solution - he didn’t own a car. I imagine the same is possible in a location like Manhattan. Transit is good in those locations. When he needed a car to go beyond downtown, rarely more than once a week - there was a car rental location in walking distance. (Then he moved to the countryside, so problem solved) At the time, his logic was - owning a car would be a minimum $500 a month payments, plus gas, insurance (at least $100 a month), maintenance… and his condo charged IIRC $25,000 for a parking space underground, so on demand renting was far cheaper. Today, with Uber and such, the same lifestyle is easier.

I suppose the short answer is - if you don’t even have a guaranteed personal parking spot, then you are using only public chargers. That’s still cheaper than gas.

For a decent overnight charge, a Tesla would need 240V 32A service. I doubt you can tap into a streetlight to get that level of power; even if you could, the whole block of streetlights probably couldn’t accommodate that sort of power demand at each pole - or worse, 2 chargers per pole.

How do people in dense urban areas get petrol now? It’d be much easier to install charging points in every parking space than a petrol pump.

It’s just a matter of the industry settling on a common standard (or at least as few as possible) for connections and payment systems, for both domestic installations and public/streetside charging stations. For example, the development where I live is talking about installing them in our communal garage, or here’s an overview from a UK point of view:

Though there is a school of thought that it might be better to go for battery-swapping stations.

This is the exact opposite of the problem one recent EV commentator actually experienced.

Well, yes. Street parking was bad on good days, and impossible on all others. I just drove back to Manhattan (to clear out my ex-office, vacant since Covid hit, but containing some personal items) and it’s gotten literally impossible, what with the restaurants now seating their customers on what used to be the few parking spaces on the island.

So the OP is asking, in effect, “Are EVs the end of private car ownership in Manhattan and other dense areas?” Not literally–I had a very wealthy girlfriend who kept her car in a parking garage that cost literally more per month than my own apartment did to rent. And I suppose that there will be gasoline-fueled cars that don’t need charging stations.

BTW, I used to gas up mainly out of the city, in NJ where the gas was cheaper or on Long Island, or upstate, which is where I went when I drove anywhere. but there are still a few operating gas stations in Manhattan.

The situation in the UK varies a lot. Too many different apps and membership schemes, different charging standards and some very unreliable technology. Some charging networks are public, dependent on local government finance. Others are private that depend on corporate business plans.

The streets near where I live in London have charging posts and I’ve seen some installed in lampposts. But they are very slow, 4 to 7Kw and few in number.

There is talk of the central government pumping a lot of finance to get a standardised charging infrastructure and a common, contactless payment system on a national basis But I will believe that when I see it. It all tends to a bit hyped, reminds me a when public Wifi new. Lots of publicity and PR announcements….but quite often a slow and unreliable service.

I’m sure it will come in time. Until then, EVs are for those with off-street parking and their own charger. Or those who have access at work to parking spaces that have chargers.

On a positive note, I am seeing a lot of cars on the streets that are part of ‘pay by the hour’ car rental schemes. Some of those are EVs and I am certainly tempted. Car ownership in a big city is an increasingly expensive business. Especially if you don’t use it much. So a car share membership that is simple and all inclusive makes sense.

I should open another thread about trying to encourage car-sharing in NYC.

Precedent! Some cities in western Canada had (and may still have) parking meters with a place to plug in engine block heaters.

I agree; Every car owned by an individual ties up a lot of money and a parking spot, but one owned by a car sharing service might be used by ten or twenty people in a neighborhood, meaning ten or twenty parking spaces are not longer filled.

As much as many would love to see EV’s take over cities, it just does not seem practical at this time. This is not just for the where to recharge, but combined with that is the when to recharge. Many cities struggle with power supply, and public recharging stations will need to produce high current at high demand parts of the day, and that’s not where we need to go with this. Home recharging overnight will be where a shift to EV’s can make a big difference and potentially can shore up our aging grid, with rapid charging only a occasional use item.

If the neighborhood has any parking garages, that’s a very likely spot to install charging stations. I was in one of the underground parking garages at DOCO (newish development that contains the Golden 1 arena in Sacramento, CA) earlier this week, and there were probably 20 Tesla spots available, with more being installed.

There’s no shortage of chargers at large stores either, so if your urban area has a Target or Ikea and any amount of parking, they probably have at least a couple chargers.

My city used to have these, but they wound up pulling out. I have my own car, but I did actually join one of the car sharing services partly out of curiosity because we have contemplated downsizing to a one-car family, and partly because I had occasion to want to make a one-way trip with a car if I was meeting up with my spouse later, driving her car.

Some were electric cars, but I never managed to get one to try it out.

I think this could be a partial answer to the charging station issue as it’s a way for folks to share not just the charging station but also the vehicle and the parking place. But, a downside is it could wind up increasing traffic, because people who didn’t have the means to drive before will be able to by accessing a car for just a few hours or minutes at a time.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Manhattan at all, but there are virtually no parking lots that aren’t manned by attendants–most of them are very busy places where you wait on line for an attendant to drive your car up or down a ramp, with a very rushed glance to see that you’ve grabbed everything out of your car that you’ll need that day *(Because you’re not seeing it again until you pick it up) and to make sure that you’ve left him the keys. Hard to imagine how you’d work in whatever instructions you need to about charging it.

My thought is that as EVs get more prevalent some company will come up with small parkings lots for charging, former storefront spots that will hold 5 or 10 cars.

There was something similar down the street from me in Chicago, a 20-space lot at the end of the block that rented spots for $100/month. We also had a ZipCar allotment in the parking lot of my apartment building with 4 Priuses, so I’d imagine they could work with building owners to get chargers for full EVs. And the Whole Foods on Halsted had a few charging spots early adopters used.

So I think most urban areas would wind up like that, with more dispersed, granular solutions, rather than a single monolithic one.

There sure an awful lot of ZipCars in my area of London. Also Zip vans for those times when you want to move lots of stuff. The regular rental companies are playing catch up.

Parking is a serious issue in big cities. Shared car schemes reduce the number of cars parked on streets just sitting there depreciating for 95% of the time. A lot of congestion in cities is caused by drivers cruising around looking for a decreasing number of parking spaces. All of this is very inefficient use of two resources: parking and road capacity. At the moment there crude congestion control regimes and lots of money spent of parking management enforced by fines.

There is lots of potential for improving this.

Parking space plus charging for an EV bookable through an app on your smartphone? Sounds like a business model to me.

Local governments provide marked parking places for car sharing schemes and EVs benefit from the Low Emission Zones. But they could do a lot more.

I foresee every on street parking space chipped and ID’ed with a radio gadget buried in the roadside. Some with an EV charging post. An app that lets you book your place in advance and a SatNav to guide you there. Add to that variable pricing and car sharing/rental drop off…

The tech is just about there, though IDing a car is done by cameras and number plate recognition (very retro). Now EVs are generally very well connected and most come with Satnav displays. They could easily identify themselves when they park in a space. In fact they already do this if they want to charge their EV because they have to pay for the service. EVs with advanced charging networks like Teslas make this very easy.

I think we will see some of these parking control schemes emerge on the back of the tech that comes as standard with EVs.

It simply requires a cunning plan.

“Need charging?”


That didn’t take long.

There can be some chargers, and as the cars complete charging they can be moved to regular spots, and waiting cars moved into charge. More work for the attendants shuffling cars, but also gives the garage an advantage over their competitors and a premium service fee.

Easy enough to use technology to alert the attendant when a car is full and ready to be moved. Someday the cars may shuffle themselves, but not now.

That is level 2 charging, and is good enough to fill the car overnight. That isn’t a useful speed for 20 minutes while your run into a store, but that’s not the purpose.

Neither of these solutions, in garage or on the street chargers, need to ever cover all spaces, and today they don’t even need to cover 10% of the spaces to be useful. The build out can be slow, which also applies to any necessary build out of the power grid.

It does need a mindset shift, though. Cars no longer refuel quickly while they’re out and moving around, instead the refuel slowly when they sit and wait. If people in big cities are using their car once per week, then even 1-2kW charging will be adequate.

This is is assuming there is infrastructure to carry the current needed to charge a bunch of cars at the same time.

I just found out that installing an 80 amp charger in my house may cost anywhere from $25K to $45K, because in our neighborhood increasing your service capacity requires trenching. And many neighborhoods apparently will only be able to handle a handful of upgraded services before more extensive upgrades to the neighborhood transformers and such are required. You can’t just assume you could use an old 7-11 parking lot and install a dozen level-3 chargers.