NY Government Invests in Electric Car Infrastructure, but is it Enough?

Electric vehicles have undeniable advantages. They’re environmentally friendly, quiet, don’t require gas, and will probably take over as the primary vehicle type not far in the future.

But electric and hybrid cars have still had trouble catching on in the wider consumer market. Charging stations may be hard to find with in range of the driver and prices are still high, factors which exports say both have to change before electric cars catch on with the public.

With rising concerns about foreign oil dependence, climate change, and increased fossil fuel costs, the percentage of drivers registered with electric cars has increased, but only by a very miniscule percentage.

As of June, 2013 (when the most recent data was collected by the state Department of Motor Vehicles) over 90% of the nearly 10.5 million vehicles on the road in New York State were exclusively gas-powered. Only 4,570 drivers were behind the wheel of all-electric vehicles, and 122,498 drivers were driving hybrids. Other drivers used diesel, flex-fuel, and gasoline-ethanol blends.

Part of the problem is that electric cars are still just significantly more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts. Even rising gas prices haven’t proven to be a huge factor when people buy cars: they look at the initial price, much like they’d compare quotes for auto repair shops or other services and go with the cheapest option.

As a result, the state’s spent about $8 million to promote electric vehicle ownership in the past two years, a number which Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed to raise as high as $50 million by 2018.

The state also announced more than 360 new charging stations in April as part of the Charge NY initiative, which plans to expand to 3,000 stations to power 40,000 new electric vehicles by 2018. Right now, many of these charging stations are free as part of a state grant and drivers can get tax credits as high as 7,500 for buying electric and hybrid cars.

Officials hope these measures will encourage people to buy electric cars, but many people aren’t sure it will be enough to create an infrastructure.

They may just have to let the vehicles stand for themselves. Consumers are slowly but surely learning to appreciate the efficiency and mileage of hybrid and electric cars, and prices are slowly coming down. It may only be a matter of time before gas cars become obsolete.

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