Can Zero-Emission Vehicles Catch On In NYS?

A number of new initiatives may help make electric cars a New York staple.

NYLCV’s Ya-Ting Liu & Council Member Costa Constantinides introducing a bill to promote electric vehicles.

Under a bill by Queens Councilman Costa Constantinides, the Department of Transportation would launch a four-year pilot program to install up to seven charging stations per borough.

Constantinides’ effort aims to incentivize electric vehicle use by creating enough infrastructure to supply the city. Despite recent advances, New York State lags significantly behind other states, with only 2,600 electric cars registered. Washington state, for example, boasts 12,000.

New York City’s two million gasoline-powered cars account for 25 percent of the city’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions. With municipal officials hoping to reduce emissions by 80 percent in the next 34 years, electric vehicle proliferation remains an important item on the city’s agenda. Last year, the municipality started converting its fleet to electric power, and provided a proportional number of charging stations.

While electric vehicle advocates have long hoped for a breakthrough, a dearth in charging stations has hindered growth in the industry. In Manhattan, many parking garages have started including Tesla charging stations, but the rest of the four boroughs languish from inadequate facilities.

In recent weeks, environmental advocates have pressured New York State to allocate a greater part of its budget towards this developing industry. The state senate and assembly, meanwhile, have deliberated rebate proposals for the necessary infrastructure. Although Governor Andrew Cuomo signed onto efforts to increase sales of zero-emission vehicles in 2014, the results have not followed. The State hoped to put 3.3 million of these ZEVs on the road by 2025. In the past five years, just under 3,000 electric and 9,000 hybrid vehicles have been sold.

New York remains one of 17 states to offer incentives for electric vehicle use. Other states, however, have shown more pull for consumers. California hosts nearly eight times as many ZEV facilities, and even Texas outpaces New York.