Magazine

Point of View

Electric Vehicles, NYC and ‘Castle’

By John Van Horn

I created a brouhaha on my blog concerning charging stations and electric vehicles. I noted that we haven’t addressed the issue of what to do when someone plugs in their e-car and leaves it all day. This issue gets worse at airports. I posited that an e-valet could jockey the cars around, but that would greatly change the liability and the relationship between the parking lot owner and the parker.
One reader responded that you could put charging stations on different floors, and the higher you parked, the longer you could stay.
Another said that my comments about all-electric cars not making sense were balderdash since hybrids were merely a bridge until all-electrics were in the marketing channels and infrastructure was in place.
Another reader agreed with me and noted that this electric car stuff had been tried about every 20 years and had failed every time. What’s to make someone believe that it should be any different now?
I also was told that battery technology was on the rise and cars were running 600km (360 miles) on a charge in Germany. So I looked that one up. You can find whatever you want on the Internet, and I found this quote, in a story headlined “Audi’s new electric car has range of over 600 km,” at Renewables International / The Magazine:
On this particular trip, which took place at temperatures just above freezing (not good for batteries), the electric car reportedly had an average speed of 90 kilometers per hour (56 mph), though the car can apparently top out at 130 km/h. Given the confusion surrounding and the general lack of details – what exactly was changed on the A2? – the main question is whether this test drive will have any relevance for serially manufactured electric cars. The German car experts contacted by Heise Autos did not seem convinced by the reports of this breakthrough, saying instead that they still generally assume that electric cars realistically have a range of no more than 150km and that this range is expected to increase by 20% over the next decade, not 100%.
I should note that other articles said the exact opposite of this, so who knows. My point is that I question the efficacy of this project – period. It requires that the government be involved and subsidize the research, testing and cost of the vehicles. I know that battery manufacture and recycling is a very messy business.
It seems that for there to be any convenience at all, charging stations have to be near virtually every place you park a car, much like outlets for car heaters are in extremely cold climes.
My friend Manny points out that most Americans’ commute is less than 40 miles, so current cars would work and have to be charged only at home. Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the side trip to the doctor or the store or to pick up the kids on the way home. It doesn’t take much to eat up that extra capacity and suddenly you are someplace without a charger, and no way to get to one.
Hybrids, with 60mpg or 70mpg ratings seem to solve all the problems. They use, what, a third the gas as a standard vehicle. They carry their charger with them and do it on the fly. You don’t have to think about it at all. They also are larger and can handle more passengers and cargo. And they are cheaper.
Why, then, would one want an all-electric car? I repeat. Does it really make any sense?
***
Alternate-side-of-the-street parking in NYC has always confused me. Now I get it, thanks to Austin Bramwell over at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen blog. He explains the issue, to wit: You have to move your car twice a week in NYC to allow street cleaning. So people just get in their car, drive out, wait for the sweeper to go by, and then return to their spot and idle until the no-parking period is up (hour and a half at most).
These spaces cost nothing to the parker, but are extremely valuable. To pay for a parking spot in Manhattan, you would drop $400 a month. And that might be blocks away from your apartment. Bramwell says that most of these cars are moved just twice a week and sit the rest of the time.
The City Council has put forth a proposal – I discussed this a few months ago – that after the sweeper passes, you could park and leave your car; you don’t have to wait until the time on the sign ticks by. This would save many New Yorkers hours a year sitting idling in their cars, waiting for time to pass.
The mayor opposes the deal for the reason that sweepers sometimes have to go by twice. The real reason to oppose the deal is that the entire concept is incredible. The city is providing “free” parking in an area where parking costs $400/month. New York also is a city where parking is scarce. The people who park cars “free” on the street seldom use them; they simply park them because they can.
One might guess that if they had to pay an extra $5K a year to park, they might add that to the cost of ownership and realize that they could rent a luxury car for the few times they use a car and free up a lot of on-street space. If the city charged $2 an hour, it would be much higher than $400 a month for those now parking “free.”
Of course, it’s a political issue – all those “free” parkers vote.
***
Every Monday, I watch “Castle,” the mystery/thriller/comedy developed by ABC. It’s a great show. In “The Dead Pool” episode a couple of weeks ago, our hero, Richard Castle, took out after parking, at least a bit.
One of the police detectives was listing crimes done by four brothers. Castle’s comments are in italics:
Assault – Oooh …
Aggravated assault – Bad.
Assault with a deadly weapon – Eee …
Battery – Hmm …
Assault on a city employee, parking enforcement – Doesn’t count.
At least the detectives jump on Castle.
It’s these little jabs – subtle, actually funny to most – that grind and grind at our industry. It wouldn’t be funny if said about a garbage collector, sewer repairman or a bus driver. But … you get the idea. Any idea why it’s funny when said about our team? It ain’t because of “Parking Wars,” or is it.
Illegitimi non carborundum!
Look it up.

Article Abstract from June, 2011




Innovolt BANNER SKY Parking Today Subscribe BANNER