New York Gets Its First Public EV Charging Station

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(WNYC, New York) Own an electric car? Thinking about buying one? Until now, you've been, um, running on empty if you're stuck in New York City with a low battery.

But starting today, California company Coulomb Technologies plans to install 300 of the stations—called ChargePoints—in the New York metropolitan area by October 2011.

Carmakers Chevrolet and Ford, as well as smart USA, distributor of the "Smart Car,"  plan to bring Electric Vehicles—known as EV in industry parlance—to New York City streets in the coming months.

"We want New York City to be prepared when people start buying them," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference unveiling the station today.

Motorists will be able to pay about $2 to fill an empty battery -- enough for about four hours of driving. The charging stations look like gas pumps -- but are much narrower and more elegant.

“Driving on electricity costs you about 2 cents a mile. Driving on gasoline costs you fourteen cents a mile,” said Coulomb CEO Richard Lowenthal.

Coulomb received a 15 million dollar grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to develop the stations and is installing 5,000 of them in 9 metropolitan areas around the country, including Los Angeles, Austin, and Washington DC.

“I think it is terribly important for the world I’d like to leave to my kids,” said Mayor Bloomberg, who says there are 346 EV's in the city fleet and 6000 hybrids. “It is not something you worry about for 50 years from now. I worry about the air quality and the water quality today. I worry about the congestion on our streets today.”

President Obama is pushing electric vehicles. Tomorrow, he'll travel to Holland, Michigan, to cut a ribbon at the ninth large-scale EV battery plant in the U.S.

Federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan, interviewed on the Brian Lehrer show today, said that will push production of such batteries to twenty percent of the global market, up from two percent. Donovan joined Mayor Bloomberg at the unveiling -- part of the administration's "Recovery Summer" designed to plug the stimulus act.