Curbside electric-car charging in Jersey City highlights importance for city drivers


Greenspot electric-car charging station

Greenspot electric-car charging station

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City living presents many challenges for car owners, with parking among the most significant and painful.

Scarce parking spaces are a particular problem for electric-car drivers, who typically charge their cars where they park overnight.

Many electric-car drivers charge at home, but those owners who park on the street rather than in a private garage often don't have that luxury.

DON'T MISS: Electric cars are great for U.S. suburbs; cities, not so much

Now a handful of cities are making things a bit easier by starting to offer curbside electric-car charging.

The latest is Jersey City, New Jersey, which now hosts a network of curbside charging stations installed and operated by charging-infrastructure company Greenspot.

The company recently unveiled 10 charging sites in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

Greenspot electric-car charging station

Greenspot electric-car charging station

Enlarge Photo

All of the locations are in Jersey City's downtown Powerhouse Arts District.

The 10 charging sites include a total of 19 arms for charging individual electric cars.

ALSO SEE: Uber logs another mass-transit win, this time in New Jersey

The network includes one DC fast-charging station; the others are likely to be 240-volt Level 2 stations.

As well as charging infrastructure, Greenspot is also coordinating car sharing in Jersey City in a partnership with General Motors' Maven brand.

Maven is a "mobility brand" launched by GM last year to offer car-sharing services in selected cities.

In Jersey City, Maven will offer Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids to members, who can reserve the cars using a smartphone app.

Curbside charging and car sharing are a particularly good match, since the combination allows cars to be charged in the same locations where they are picked up and dropped off by drivers.

MORE: BlueIndy electric car-sharing: after 9 months, how's it doing?

Car-sharing services deploy their cars on city streets, so that users don't have to go to a central location that may be out of their way, as with conventional rental services.

One model is the successful Autolib service in Paris, which has thousands of small three-door Bollore BlueCar electric hatchbacks parked in groups of half a dozen at curbside charging stations.

Those stations can also be used by drivers of other electric cars, and a mix of Autolib and privately owned electric cars is now a standard part of the landscape on many Parisian streets.

Volkswagen e-Golf recharging at curbside Autolib station, Paris, Sep 2016

Volkswagen e-Golf recharging at curbside Autolib station, Paris, Sep 2016

Enlarge Photo

The Autolib service is testing its prospects in North America with a trial deployment in Indianapolis as the BlueIndy electric car-sharing service.

Its curbside charging stations follow the model in Paris, grouped in batches of six along main and side streets, as well as at the Indianapolis Airport, a popular destination among car-sharing users.

The availability of such curbside charging may encourage more Jersey City drivers to switch to plug-in electric cars—or at least try them out for a short period through the Maven car-sharing service.

A few other cities, including Palo Alto, California, have adopted legislation permitting curbside charging stations, but such sites remain a rarity today.

Perhaps Jersey City will become a model for such installations in the the older, denser cities of the Northeast.

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