Though transportation using foot, pedal and petrol are still more common forms of travel, New Haven and the rest of Connecticut continue to adapt to the rise of electric vehicles.
In Connecticut, electric vehicle drivers can charge their batteries at almost 350 stations throughout the state, with nearly a dozen of those stations found in New Haven. With the rise in oil prices, increased funding for electric vehicle charging stations and the growing number of electric vehicle models to choose from, industry and government officials anticipate greater usage of electric vehicles in the coming years.
In 2014, Connecticut joined seven other states in pledging to put 3.3 million electric vehicles on the road by 2025 — a year after the state released a Comprehensive Energy Strategy report that showed electric vehicles represent an “insignificant amount” of total miles traveled in Connecticut, and that an increase in the use of electric vehicles would bring substantial environmental benefits.
“There’s a much better variety of choices,” said Jesse Rudavsky, vice president of New England Electric Auto Association. “It’s not just your left-wing, liberal tree huggers who are driving [electric vehicles]. There are different vehicles to fit different things.”
Andrew Kasznay, who drives a Ford Focus Electric, said he uses his vehicle for a 30-mile daily commute into New Haven for his job. Kasznay said he charges his vehicle at home and at work and that the electricity costs roughly the same as driving a fossil fuel vehicle that requires one gallon of gasoline for 120 miles of travel.
Right now, the number of charging stations in Connecticut is sufficient for the number of electric cars on the road, he said. But as more electric cars start to hit the road, Kasznay said he would hope to see more charging stations installed throughout the state.
Fortunately for Kasznay and other electric car owners, that is just what the state government plans to do.
In 2015, Volkswagen officials admitted that the company had used technology to deceive American regulators on the level of greenhouse gas emissions by some of Volkswagen’s vehicles. More than 10,000 of those vehicles were sold in Connecticut, according to state documents, and now Volkswagen must pay the state more than $50 million to offset the greenhouse gases emitted due to the company’s actions as well as compensate those who bought such vehicles. More than $7 million, or 15 percent of Volkswagen’s total payment, will be allocated to funding electric vehicle supply equipment such as charging stations, according to the state’s proposed mitigation plan.
EVSE LLC, an Enfield-based electric car charging company that manufactures charging stations and is currently under contract with the state, is hoping to ride the rise.
“There are going to be more cars going forward in the next 10 to 15 years,” EVSE Director of Sales and Marketing Daniel Shanahan said. “And they’re going to move further and further away from fossil fuels.”
So far, the company has sold about 200 chargers in the state, Shanahan said. These chargers include sales to New Haven for its parking garages and to Yale for parking lots near Ingalls Rink and the Yale School of Management, he said.
Along with government- and University-funded projects, the private sector has also played a role in creating electric charge stations. Last year, The Study at Yale installed a Tesla Supercharger — which exclusively charges Tesla vehicles — in its parking garage after a frequent client told employees about the Supercharger program, said Anthony Moir, general manager at The Study.
“[Tesla] installed them complimentary about a year ago,” Moir said. “The only agreement that we have is that if someone comes in a Tesla, we charge their car complimentary. We can’t turn anyone or their Tesla away.”
The Study also houses a universal car charger. With those two stations, Moir said they charge roughly a dozen cars a day, but that the number varies with the season.
So far, 540,000 electric cars have been sold in the United States.