8 Things to Know About Owning an EV in New York City

 In Electric Utilities, EV Industry, SmartCharge Rewards

New York City is quickly becoming a hub for electric vehicle (EV) adoption in America. At the close of 2016, New York State had by far the highest number of plug-in EVs on the road of any Northeastern state (16,710), and the Big Apple had the most of any city in the state (2,996).

This statistic may seem remarkable for a city with so many high-rise apartment buildings, but a combination of government initiatives and New Yorkers’ desire to drive greener has made it a reality. As of 2017, it is a daily occurrence to see a Tesla or Nissan Leaf on the street in one of the five boroughs. Meanwhile, a 2016 study ranked NYC the fourth-best city for EV owners.

While some electric cars are part of the city’s rapidly growing municipal plug-in fleet, the lion’s share belongs to NYC residents who take advantage of existing charging station infrastructure and available incentives.

If you are considering a plug-in vehicle, here are eight things to know about owning and driving an electric car in New York City.

Are you an EV owner the Greater New York City area? We recently launched a program with Con Edison called SmartCharge New York, where EV owners can earn $50 just for enrolling, $20 a month (from June to September) for not charging between 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 5 cents in rewards for each kilowatt hour of charging during off-peak hours. You can read more about the SmartCharge New York program here.

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1. Purchase incentives

All New York State residents are now eligible for the Drive Clean Rebate – a point-of-sale EV rebate of up to $2,000, which can be combined with the Federal Tax Credit of up to $7,500. The rebate is based on the EPA’s all-electric mileage range, with models that get more than 120 miles eligible for the maximum $2,000 amount. Rebates are available only at car dealerships that have registered with New York State. More than 30 EV models currently qualify for the Drive Clean Rebate.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) posted details about this long-awaited rebate program in March 2017.

2. Charging Incentives

SmartCharge New York

In addition to purchase incentives, utilities have begun rewarding customers for EV charging. Con Edison recently partnered with FleetCarma to launch the SmartCharge New York program, where EV owners can earn SmartCharge RewardsTM each month by participating in the program and charging during off-peak hours at certain times throughout the year. This helps the utility manage load on the grid, and allows EV owners to save on the electricity they use to charge their vehicles.

Participants also receive a FleetCarma Connected Car Device, unlocking access to:

  • Driving Efficiency
  • Charging Energy Consumption
  • Trip Data
  • Battery Health
  • Downloadable Data
  • And a community of EV owners

To learn more, visit the SmartCharge New York program page here.

3. Other Incentives for New York City EV Drivers

HOV lane New York

Other incentives encourage New York City drivers to go green with EVs by offering numerous time- and money-saving perks.

New Yorkers operating plug-ins can get single-occupancy access to HOV lanes on the Long Island Expressway (L.I.E.) through the state’s Clean Pass Program.

The New York State Thruway Authority offers a special 10% discount on E-ZPass rates for EV owners.

Some New York auto insurance providers also offer insurance discounts for having green driving habits and/or driving a ‘fuel-efficient’ vehicle.

The Green Driver State Incentives in New York page on the DMV website provides more information on all available incentives.

4. Approaching a Condo/Coop board about Charging Stations

Several apartment buildings – both condo and coop – have already installed charging stations in New York. You may want to consider this factor when you are looking for a new apartment.

Among the early adopters, the Seward Park Coop on the Lower East Side was one of the first to install four stations in 2011 and others have followed suit since then. The Solaire condo building, an Albanese property in Battery Park City, was another to offer charging stations for residents and even partnered with BMW with the launch of electric car-sharing at the Solaire in late 2016. More on this below.

If you want to convince a condo or coop board to install a charger in the garage, Green Car Reports offers a number of helpful tips. Highlights include:

  • Communicate with the Association Manager and arrange for Board Approval prior to charging with an Association’s common element utilities.
  • Seek out the full Board of Directors, not just one board.
  • Mention the high-end appeal it would bring to the property. As more consumers adopt EVs, apartment buildings could use such an amenity to fill vacancies faster.
  • Be prepared to pay for electricity used, along with electrician costs associated with installation of the charge station and dedicated metering.

5. Where to Charge Your EV

Map of charging stations in New York

This stat may sound surprising, but there are over 300 places to charge an electric car below 59th Street in Manhattan, and hundreds more throughout New York City. Many of these are located in public parking garages, and there is usually a small fee for charging. Apartment dwellers who park in a local garage are able to charge while the car is not in use. Attendants who work in garages with charging stations are typically used to handling plug-in models.

New Yorkers who live in single family homes often add their own Level 2 charger in order to ‘refuel’ the car. This system is the most common, most convenient, and most affordable way to charge an EV. Every car manual offers instructions on how to charge the vehicle.

Additional Charging Resources:

6.  Matching an EV to Your Driving Needs

Tesla Model S in New York

As in other local markets, consumers in New York will need to choose between all-electric models and plug-in hybrids when considering an electric vehicle. An all-electric, depending on the model and way you drive, can travel between 60 miles and 300 miles on a full charge. Some popular examples include:

  • 2017 Nissan Leaf: 107 miles
  • 2017 BMW i3: 114 miles
  • 2017 Tesla Model S: 210 to 315 miles (depends on trim)
  • 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV: 238 miles

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) go anywhere from 12 to 53 miles on electric power before switching to hybrid (gas-electric) drive mode. For some PHEVs, total range is as high as 620 miles when also consuming gasoline. Some examples include:

  • 2017 Chevrolet Volt: 53 miles electric, 420 miles total range
  • 2017 Ford Fusion Energi: 22 electric miles, 610 miles total range
  • 2017 Toyota Prius Prime: 25 electric miles, 640 miles total range

Distances between local points of interest are short. Residents of Carroll Gardens who drive to a performance at Lincoln Center cover a total of 8 miles each way. Likewise, a Tribeca resident who wants to spend the afternoon at Coney Island only has 15 miles to travel.

In other words, the “range anxiety” a suburbanite might feel regarding an electric car does not generally apply to New Yorkers. As city cars, today’s all-electric models work well, and plug-in hybrids cover the majority of trips around the area on electric power as well.

7.  Electric Vehicle Car Sharing

If you’re like many New Yorkers, owning a vehicle might not be practical within the city proper.  Some car share companies like Zipcar and Enterprise have launched their own EV initiatives to help support their customers that want to get around on electric power. And, as mentioned above, some vehicle manufacturers like BMW are even partnering with condo boards to offer electric mobility services to their residents in an innovative car sharing program at their buildings.

While these car share programs are just beginning, the appeal for more EV sharing in a densely populated city like New York is something that may gain traction over the coming years.

8.  Low Carbon Footprint

New York City has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the United States, thanks to a carbon-free nuclear power plant, and abundant energy in its wind, flowing water, sunshine, earth heat and sustainable biomass.

Hopefully this article has provided you with some helpful information on owning or using an electric vehicle in New York City in the immediate and long term. If you have any thoughts, feedback, or suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment down below!

We recently launched a program with Con Edison called SmartCharge New York, where EV owners can earn $50 just for enrolling, $20 a month (from June to September) for not charging between 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 5 cents in rewards for each kilowatt hour of charging during off-peak hours. You can read more about the SmartCharge New York program here.

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  • Brooklyn Ho

    I was surprised by this article, it’s actually very difficult for residents of many areas of NYC to own EVs since a high percentage of us park on the curb. NYC will struggle to convert from ICE to electric until the city establishes curbside chargers or a permitting system allowed apartment owners to install their own curbside chargers. According to one DOT office curbside charging is a long way off…

    • EricNYC

      Yes, in the grand scheme of things, there are very few EVs compared to other cars, but the # is growing. I live in Manhattan and could charge in a local garage, but it’s expensive (the parking, not the charging). However, anyone who keeps a car in a garage can own an EV in NYC. Residents of Ozone Park, Rockaway, spots in Bklyn, Staten Island, Bronx are the best fit right now.
      Also, since there are so many new condo buildings going up, residents can push mgmt companies to get on board. NYC has yet to do what other cities have done to promote EV use — ban ICEs on certain days, offer free public parking, set up curbside chargers, have easily accessible fast chargers — so yeah it’s a challenge. But the purchase incentives ($9500 off MSRP!) and this ConEd program make it easier. Besides, de Blasio is more motivated than ever on reducing emissions, so we’ll see what happens.

  • Hybridium Goose

    This is such a bullshit. 5 years ago Paris, London, and all major European cities had installed free or nominal charge EV chargers similar to parking meters and areas are clearly marked EV CHARGING STATION. De Blasio is a moron who should have jumped on this day 1, and maybe then have at least 1 reason to reelect him.