Infrastructure for Personal Electric Vehicles (non-autonomous) in Boston

shmessy

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Don't count GM's chickens before they hatch.

They're the butt of all jokes in the automotive world - for bungling Cadillac as a brand for the last 30 years, engine/general reliability/quality issues, squandering their lead in the EV market early on, etc. But definitely have an opportunity to turn around here. The difficulty they have is a lack of agility. Such a large corporation with moving parts a plenty. Very slow to react to market demands. They're known to put out a decent product and let it rot with a lack of updates (see their entire car/non-suv lineup) so they'll need a better approach with this EV launch.

For as much as Tesla and Musk bother me, their strategy is a winner. A focused lineup of vehicles, consistent development and updates (primarily OTA), and a streamlined buyer experience. AND coupled with a charging infrastructure plan that is leagues ahead of anyone else right now.

Biden has announced plans to electrify the federal vehicle fleet and GM would be wise to get in on that too.

It's just a very interesting piece of the puzzle. GM doing this is a "Man bites dog" story. Especially since GM 'lacks agility' and is historically 'slow to react to market demands'.

If THEY are doing that, it really shows paradigm changes occurring at a much faster rate.
 

bigpicture7

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Another article in the Times yesterday specifically on this topic:
From the article:
While it’s fairly easy for anyone with a single-family home and a garage to install a charger, it can be far more difficult for people who live in large apartments or who rely on street parking to find a suitable outlet.

...But financing this infrastructure is complicated, and will likely require public spending and coordination from governments.
If every American switched over to an electric passenger vehicle, analysts have estimated, the United States could end up using roughly 25 percent more electricity than it does today. To handle that, utilities will likely need to build a lot of new power plants and upgrade their transmission networks.

“There’s no question that utilities can do this, but it’s not going to be trivial,” said Chris Nelder, who leads the vehicle-grid integration team at the Rocky Mountain Institute.
Suffice to say, there is a lot to figure out here, and despite the hype in the press, we are still in the very early stages:
Today, fewer than 1 percent of cars on America’s roads are electric. But a seismic shift is underway.
 

shmessy

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Another article in the Times yesterday specifically on this topic:


From the article:




Suffice to say, there is a lot to figure out here, and despite the hype in the press, we are still in the very early stages:

Every single clip of that NYT article you posted there points straight at my other thread's contention about eventually outlawing individually owned vehicles and going to subscription auto services in downtown urban areas in the future. I don't want to get in trouble and slide the tangent here (people can go to the other thread), but what you posted is a "bingo".
 

bigpicture7

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Every single clip of that NYT article you posted there points straight at my other thread's contention about eventually outlawing individually owned vehicles and going to subscription auto services in downtown urban areas in the future. I don't want to get in trouble and slide the tangent here (people can go to the other thread), but what you posted is a "bingo".
Shmessy, I really do see where you are coming from here. I just want to keep this space carved out for "what would it actually take for personal EVs to exist in cities?" As I've shared, I have no agenda toward pushing this as the end-all. But I and others are curious to examine it, dissect it, etc.

In fact, I agree with you that there are huge elephants in the room when it comes to widespread personal EV adoption that need to be addressed, particularly in cities. That's kind of the point of this thread.

I am fascinated with what yet-to-be-imagined crazy engineering (and policy and business) feats may emerge. Now is the time to get over the superficial forms of EV hype, and instead uphold scrutiny as to how the heck we are going to make it happen (or conclude it's not possible). Your notion of the future may well be what pans out, but there's a place for both discussions, even if this one is a lost cause. I'm simply not convinced that every promising concept has emerged yet, so this is a place for such possibilities to emerge.
 
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shmessy

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Shmessy, I really do see where you are coming from here. I just want to keep this space carved out for "what would it actually take for personal EVs to exist in cities?" As I've shared, I have no agenda toward pushing this as the end-all. But I and others are curious to examine it, dissect it, etc.

In fact, I agree with you that there are huge elephants in the room when it comes to widespread personal EV adoption that need to be addressed, particularly in cities. That's kind of the point of this thread.

I am fascinated with what yet-to-be-imagined crazy engineering (and policy and business) feats may emerge. Now is the time to get over the superficial forms of EV hype, and instead uphold scrutiny as to how the heck we are going to make it happen (or conclude it's not possible). Your notion of the future may well be what pans out, but there's a place for both discussions, even if this one is a lost cause. I'm simply not convinced that every promising concept has emerged yet, so this is a place for such possibilities to emerge.
It's all good, BP, and that's why I said I wasn't going to go further on it here. That NYT article really hit it on the head. Thanks for posting it.
 

Arlington

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By 2035 vehicles will "fill up" at fast charging stations at about the same rate and go the same distance as gasoline cars do or did.

If you think about cars in 1970 that got 10mpg and could pump 4 gpm, they added 40 miles of range per minute
A 2019 Tesla takes 60 minutes to add 240 miles, so currently adds 4 miles of range per minute

15 years is probably enough time to think we'll see 10mi/min charging by 2030 and 20mi/min charging by 2035.

So at least part of our 2035 vision should include vastly different battery capacity (tesla is already there in terms of driving range) and vastly faster charging times (and an interesting mix of both).

Filling up might be slower for EVs but it'll also be safer (and easier to automate, or do from a mobile robo-charger)

EDIT: the other big thing is going to be that PHEVs are going to have a very good run for the next 10 to 15 years. My 2018 Honda Clarity currently has a "one gallon" Battery (good for 40 miles) and a 7 gallon gas tank (good for 7 x 40 = 280 miles). As batteries get better (and electric motors get more efficient) more and more of a PHEV's range will come from the battery and less and less will come from the "Range Extender" ICE.
 
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bigpicture7

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By 2035 vehicles will "fill up" at fast charging stations at about the same rate and go the same distance as gasoline cars do or did.

If you think about cars in 1970 that got 10mpg and could pump 4 gpm, they added 40 miles of range per minute

So at least part of our 2035 vision should include vastly different battery capacity (tesla is already there in terms of driving range) and vastly faster charging times (and an interesting mix of both).

Filling up might be slower for EVs but it'll also be safer (and easier to automate, or do from a mobile robo-charger)
What's so fascinating to me is that there are majorly different system architecture implications of concentrated fast charging versus distributed slow charging. This is like VHS-vs-betamax on steroids: talk about being at a crossroads in terms being able to make progress on infrastructure in the near term.

I look forward to reading that article. I've thus far viewed fast charging through the lens of a charging technology that potentially harms batteries; I look forward to better understanding it as a unique technology of batteries themselves.

EDIT: @Arlington , apologies I jumped in before you were done making some great additions to the above post!
 
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JeffDowntown

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The moving target for infrastructure investment is a huge challenge in this transition. Significant infrastructure investment rarely happens before the market winner is pretty clear. But we need the infrastructure in place to promote adoption.

Something is going to have to move first, but I don't know how it will happen.
 

ra84970

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The central question of this thread (for me at least) is how does that "home" / "overnight" charging process work if you street park? Presumably you charge(d) your Leaf/Clarity on private property in your driveway or garage, with a charger wired to your house? You can't really do that if you street park. I have zero guarantee I'll be able to park my car in front of my apartment, and even if I do get one of the two street parking spots directly in front of my building how am I supposed to run a cord down from my upstairs unit and across the sidewalk to my vehicle (and trust that it doesn't get messed with)? That just isn't practical.

The "on the go charging" question is an established one that can be addressed through distributed charging station infrastructure along highways. That applies to all EVs regardless of where they live. But the "home charging" question for the subset of cars that street-park (and are thus, kinda, "homeless") is one that doesn't seem to have a good solution.
I mean this is where some municipally-provided on-street charging (paid by the user of course) in permit parking neighborboods makes good sense for the urban core. I've seen a few L1 (or L2) charging kiosks in municipal lots around the core. Wouldn't take too much more to go further and build a few on each street scattered throughout the city over a number of neighborhoods toward 2035. Though, if we are to take the Biden administrations trajectory in to consideration, maybe every permit parking spot needs to have electric vehicle charging by 2035.

For commercial vehicles, i suspect there will not be as much appetite for central charging given the costs needed for upgrading the yard for the electric loads needed for dozens to hundreds of vehicles needing to pull power overnight at once. It also implicates overnight fleet management staffing. Also, I'm recalling that the EEA doesn't seem to believe that heavy duty vehicles would be majority electric by 2035. And at the MBTA FMCB presentation on Monday seemed awfully hesitant to address heavy duty vehicles.
 

Arlington

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L2 charging in garages, workplaces, and shopping centers would be useful in all scenarios. And in homes with off street parking.

Beyond that I would assume this is only going to work if fast charging co-located with gas stations is practical.

I don't see remaking the cities streetscape.

And interesting half step would be using existing local transformers and utility poles, kind of the way that telephone cells have become small enough to mount on a utility pole.
 

JeffDowntown

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L2 charging in garages, workplaces, and shopping centers would be useful in all scenarios. And in homes with off street parking.

Beyond that I would assume this is only going to work if fast charging co-located with gas stations is practical.

I don't see remaking the cities streetscape.

And interesting half step would be using existing local transformers and utility poles, kind of the way that telephone cells have become small enough to mount on a utility pole.
Locating fast charging at gasoline stations seems a logical approach. But I wonder if it is really safe in compact urban gasoline stations? In highway service areas, you usually have room to widely separate the high voltage EV charging from the gasoline dispensing and storage. Not so easy in an urban station setup.
 

ra84970

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Locating fast charging at gasoline stations seems a logical approach. But I wonder if it is really safe in compact urban gasoline stations? In highway service areas, you usually have room to widely separate the high voltage EV charging from the gasoline dispensing and storage. Not so easy in an urban station setup.
The way a lot of places are going -- maybe it would be better to look at former gas station or auto repair sites that have been closed as the inner core cities have had less need for those businesses as MPGs and reliability have gone up over the years.
 

Vagabond

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Locating fast charging at gasoline stations seems a logical approach. But I wonder if it is really safe in compact urban gasoline stations? In highway service areas, you usually have room to widely separate the high voltage EV charging from the gasoline dispensing and storage. Not so easy in an urban station setup.
This is a business model issue.

Electricity doesn't require the middleman (tank storage and distribution) that ICE engines do. A utility (given regulatory constraints) could easily cut to the front of the line to delivery - something that is being litigated in most states. Many are settling on a shared-responsibility (and profit) model with managed charging. https://www.utilitydive.com/news/as...g-companies-rises-emerging-difference/581877/

My money? EVs don't need "pump stations," they need convenience - where you rarely think about needing to refuel. Check out some of the companies working on induction charging - extremely low footprint.

If you think really big - trucking networks would love a "charging lane" on highways.

Also - Mass is finally making a push to get electric trucks in the conversation: https://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/state-offers-rebates-on-electric-trucks/
 
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Stlin

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A question; in areas where you've still got above ground utility poles, and therefore an utility operator who owns them and an easement/access to a right of way, is there any precedent or reason someone can't look at that and go "EV chargers are a reasonable extension of electrical supply infrastructure, right?" and mount a charging station on or next to every pole they own?

In large areas of Boston and environs, in the aforementioned densely populated but without new developments with off-street charging / low income areas, you've still got large areas with poles. Presumably it'd only take a minor change or two in state and municipal codes/bylaws to permit, and the utility companies have the physical plant to make it happen; they could even offer car charging on your home power bill (that, however, would imply a far smarter system than currently exists). Sure, you might need to run a more robust power supply line, but most of the infrastructure is in place. Either way, soon enough EVs will be prevalent enough that the power companies are actively incentivised to capture some of that market.
 

JeffDowntown

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A question; in areas where you've still got above ground utility poles, and therefore an utility operator who owns them and an easement/access to a right of way, is there any precedent or reason someone can't look at that and go "EV chargers are a reasonable extension of electrical supply infrastructure, right?" and mount a charging station on or next to every pole they own?

In large areas of Boston and environs, in the aforementioned densely populated but without new developments with off-street charging / low income areas, you've still got large areas with poles. Presumably it'd only take a minor change or two in state and municipal codes/bylaws to permit, and the utility companies have the physical plant to make it happen; they could even offer car charging on your home power bill (that, however, would imply a far smarter system than currently exists). Sure, you might need to run a more robust power supply line, but most of the infrastructure is in place. Either way, soon enough EVs will be prevalent enough that the power companies are actively incentivised to capture some of that market.
Probably number one limitation is distribution capacity. Local feeds and stepdown transformers are sized for the existing demand, not that PLUS a slew of EV charging stations. You risk browning out the neighborhood.

You can also expect to see limitations on charging time-of-day during high demand periods for home chargers as they become ubiquitous. You likely won't be allowed to charge your car at peak AC usage, for example. The good news on that is that most (but not all!) home charging will likely happen at night.
 

Vagabond

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Probably number one limitation is distribution capacity. Local feeds and stepdown transformers are sized for the existing demand, not that PLUS a slew of EV charging stations. You risk browning out the neighborhood.

You can also expect to see limitations on charging time-of-day during high demand periods for home chargers as they become ubiquitous. You likely won't be allowed to charge your car at peak AC usage, for example. The good news on that is that most (but not all!) home charging will likely happen at night.
We've done a bit of research on it (sorry- can't share full report, but can give very basic findings). It depends on what the street lighting wires were originally scoped for - if it was a neighborhood with high-pressure sodium replaced with LEDs you can do L1 chargers or simple outlets on the same lines, or a limited number of L2s The bigger issue is ownership - utilities can't own the chargers right now, and definitely don't want the maintenance responsibility until its very clearly scoped into a rate case. Large garages and homes should be (and are) the first target - controlled environment, known load, and most likely to be long-term solutions. If anybody was going to take a shot at a large streetlight rollout, look to muni electric companies to try it first, but I wouldn't recommend it.
 

JeffDowntown

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We've done a bit of research on it (sorry- can't share full report, but can give very basic findings). It depends on what the street lighting wires were originally scoped for - if it was a neighborhood with high-pressure sodium replaced with LEDs you can do L1 chargers or simple outlets on the same lines, or a limited number of L2s The bigger issue is ownership - utilities can't own the chargers right now, and definitely don't want the maintenance responsibility until its very clearly scoped into a rate case. Large garages and homes should be (and are) the first target - controlled environment, known load, and most likely to be long-term solutions. If anybody was going to take a shot at a large streetlight rollout, look to muni electric companies to try it first, but I wouldn't recommend it.
In Boston, Verizon 5G wireless is going after that same power capacity (and have already placed micro-cells throughout much of the city, on the lighting grid, replacing about one street light pole per block with a combo cell tower/light pole). I am not sure there is any excess capacity left.
 

bigpicture7

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So, upthread, we were just discussing how the EV charging infrastructure of the future has yet to reach a consensus system architecture (e.g., distributed slow charging -vs- concentrated fast charging). Nonetheless, members of U.S. congress are pushing ahead with proposed legislation...

From a U.S. congresswoman representing NY's ninth district (a good chunk of Brooklyn):
Those who are well-off enough financially might install a charging station in their own home or pay for a parking spot in a private garage that has charging stations readily available. But for those folks who rent, or who live in public housing, or who for either financial or practical reasons don’t have access to a private parking space, the immense lack of publicly accessible charging stations poses a significant barrier that we in Congress need to address.

That’s why my legislation — the Electric Vehicles for Underserved Communities Act — tasks the Department of Energy with deploying 200,000 electric vehicle charging stations in underserved communities by 2030, including within and around public parking spaces, multi-unit dwellings, and public housing. This will be accomplished by providing unprecedented levels of grant funding and technical assistance to cities, states, community organizations, and small businesses across the nation so that these projects can be completed.
Quoted from:

I get where it's coming from, but really wish we knew more about whether this is the right approach. At present, it is hard for me to fathom an equitable roll-out of distributed charging stations across all urban street parking areas throughout the U.S...
 

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