Brooklyn Boro

Buying electric vehicles in New York could get a lot cheaper and easier

EV sales at all-time high in New York

May 7, 2019 Scott Enman
The package of bills would exempt state sales tax and registrations fees on purchases of electric vehicles and make it easier for charging stations to be installed in condominiums and apartments. Photo via Pexels

New Yorkers are buying electric vehicles at a record pace, and a new package of bills would make the eco-friendly cars less expensive and their charging stations more readily available in urban areas.

The “Green Wheels Green Streets” legislation, introduced recently by Assemblymember Patricia Fahy and State Sens. Jen Metzger, Tim Kennedy and Neil Breslin, would exempt state sales tax and registration fees on purchases of electric vehicles and make charging station installations easier in condominiums and apartments.

Sales of electric vehicles increased by 63 percent in New York last year, jumping to 36,854 from 24,551 in 2017, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. The state has pledged to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road to roughly 850,000 by 2025 and 2 million by 2030.

The package of bills would incentivize drivers to transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric cars for both environmental and monetary reasons.

A report released in February revealed that more electric vehicles on the road could provide up to $5.1 billion in societal benefits by 2030, including savings for drivers and utility customers and indirect benefits, like reduced carbon emissions.

“Transportation is the largest source of climate-destabilizing emissions in the country, and a sales tax exemption for the purchase of electric vehicles would be a wise investment by our state to accelerate the switch to clean vehicles,” Metzger said.

“EVs are cheaper to maintain and operate than gas-powered vehicles, and if we can reduce the upfront costs of the purchase, more New Yorkers will be able to reap the economic and environmental benefits of clean vehicles.”

Sales of electric vehicles increased by 63 percent in New York last year, jumping to 36,854 from 24,551 in 2017. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file
Sales of electric vehicles increased by 63 percent in New York last year, jumping to 36,854 from 24,551 in 2017. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file

A fourth bill, which Fahy said would particularly benefit Brooklyn, would create additional sidewalks and bike lanes.

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“Adjusting state transportation policy to contend with the realities of climate change requires a multi-pronged approach,” Fahy told the Brooklyn Eagle. “The goal of the Green Wheels Green Streets agenda is not just to push cleaner motorized modes of transportation but to make sure we are improving the accessibility of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

“Loosening requirements on how certain State transportation dollars are used will allow local governments from Brooklyn to Buffalo to contend with longstanding pedestrian safety problems.”

Breslin said that a major deterrent for drivers to switch to electric vehicles is a lack of charging stations — especially in the city and in condominium units where tenants can face additional bureaucratic hurdles to installation.

A study from 2016 ranked New York City as the fourth-most electric vehicle-friendly city in America after Portland, Washington D.C. and Baltimore.

There are about 50 charging stations in Brooklyn, according to a map from ChargePoint, with the largest number of them congregated in the Downtown Brooklyn area.

Most charging stations were in large multi-family building parking lots or in commercial garages, but there were some notable exceptions, including Whole Foods, IKEA, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

A new fast-charging hub was also recently installed at John F. Kennedy Airport, allowing taxis, ride-hailing vehicles, buses and other electric vehicles to charge in 20 minutes or less.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has made it a priority to increase electric vehicle infrastructure in New York City. In 2016, he required the Department of Transportation to build charging stations at all municipal parking lots, and he announced a plan in September 2017 to install at least one fast-charging hub, with up to 20 chargers per site in every borough.

In partnership with Con Edison, DOT will be installing 120 electric vehicle chargers at curbside locations across the five boroughs. The chargers will be in place for four years as part of a demonstration project, which will also include an evaluation, a DOT spokesperson told the Eagle.

Riverkeeper, the New York State Conference of Mayors and AARP have all expressed their support for the “Green Wheels Green Streets” bills.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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