If you live in New York and have put off buying an electric car for lack of a place to charge it, you may soon be in luck: New technology can turn light poles into charging stations, and NYC is launching a pilot program to test it.
New York recently announced German company Ubitricity as the winner of its NYCx Climate Action Challenge, which challenged the tech industry to find ways to scale electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and boost adoption of EVs citywide.
Ubitricity’s technology transforms lampposts into EV charging points. Users supply their own “smart” charging cables, and the city supplies the power source. “Ubitricity has demonstrated a whole new way of thinking about vehicle charging with a mobile system that consists of little more than an intelligent cable, a street light and a computer or phone app — it couldn’t get much simpler for drivers in space-constrained communities in New York,” said the Center for Sustainable Energy’s Marcus Gilmore, a panel judge for the challenge.
The ability to set up charging stations quickly without sacrificing existing real estate is part of what makes Ubitricity so attractive to the city. “This technology has the potential to enable the city to deploy curbside vehicle charging more quickly, with lower cost, and with less street clutter than other approaches,” according to a city news release.
Ubitricity’s technology is already in use in Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The New York pilot complements the city’s plan for fast-charging stations, a $10 million investment. The city that 20 percent of new motor vehicle registrations in New York City will be electric by 2025.
Why the urgent push for electric vehicles? Nearly a third of greenhouse gases produced in New York come from transportation, according to the city, and most of those emissions — 90 percent — come from private vehicles. “In a city of over 1.4 million car-owners, we must strive to encourage New Yorkers to opt for greener transportation alternatives, including electric vehicles,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Council Committee on Transportation.
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