NYC’s Latest EV Charging Station Offers 200 Miles in Just 5 Minutes

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NYC's Latest EV Charging Station Offers 200 Miles in Just 5 Minutes

New York City is advancing rapidly in the electric vehicle (EV) sector, adopting electric taxis more widely than any other city in the United States. This shift comes as new regulations mandate that all newly registered for-hire vehicles must be electric. In response, there’s a rush to develop sufficient charging infrastructure to support not only the electric taxi fleet but also individual EV owners.

Gravity, a start-up supported by Google and originally launched as an electric taxi service in 2021, has recently unveiled what it claims to be the fastest DC charging hub in the U.S. This charging station is strategically located in Manhattan, just a stone’s throw from Times Square at 401-471 West 42nd Street. Situated in one of the most densely populated and bustling areas globally, the introduction of numerous DC fast chargers in this location is a significant achievement.

How They Work

Using the charging stations is designed to be hassle-free after the initial setup. According to a spokesperson from Gravity speaking to InsideEVs, a mobile kiosk operated by the parking lot attendant facilitates the payment process. The method of authentication varies depending on the car model, but the first time an EV is charged, the vehicle’s details are recorded (automatically retrieved from the car when possible). This information is used to create a unique ID for the car, ensuring it’s recognized and automatically linked to its profile on subsequent visits.

Currently, Gravity charges a uniform rate of 59 cents per kilowatt-hour for using their charging service. However, the company is considering the introduction of dynamic pricing in the future, which could adjust the cost based on demand or other factors.

Charging Speed

The chargers are rated for 500 kilowatts and can theoretically add up to 2,400 miles per hour. That means 40 miles of range in a minute and 200 miles in about five minutes—just the amount of time it takes to refuel a gas car. I saw the charging statistics for a Kia EV6 parked at the station. The EV6—which is based on an 800-volt architecture—peaked at about 240 kW and seemed to hold a relatively flat 200+ kW charging curve from 10% to 60%. It was unplugged after that.

Charging speeds depend on the maximum voltage and current ratings of EV batteries, and the charger itself. So take the 500 kW figure with a grain of salt. However, this future-proofing could reap benefits in the long term when the U.S. gets truly capable EVs with batteries that can accept high voltage and current.

Tesla Superchargers can deliver up to 250 kW. Some of the newer Electrify America dispensers are rated for 350 kW. ChargePoint claims that its Power Link 2.0 DC fast chargers can deliver up to 500 kW, “depending upon configuration.” Mercedes-Benz, which uses these ChargePoint dispensers at its newly opened charging station in Atlanta, has rated them for 400 kW.

At this point in the U.S., no EV can really charge at even 350 kW consistently in the real world. Some of the fastest-charging EVs, including the Hyundai Ioniq 6, Lucid Air, and the Porsche Taycan among others, have charging speeds of about 200-250 kW. Only the Lucid Air, Rimac Nevera, and GMC Hummer EV are known to reach charging speeds of over 300 kW.

Although real-world speeds of over 400 kW EV are a reality on the other side of the world, in China. Someday these speeds might be possible in the U.S., but that day isn’t today.

Look And Feel

During the opening event, attended by InsideEVs, there was a notable presence of six electric vehicles (EVs) utilizing the facility, which features 24 charging stations that Gravity has dubbed “Distributed Energy Access Points.” Each station is encased in a sleek black box, similar in size to a large suitcase, described by Gravity as being 8 inches in depth and 18 inches in height.

These chargers stand out for their compactness, significantly smaller than typical public DC fast-charging stations, and could easily be mistaken for Level 2 charging units due to their size.

A unique aspect of the design is the wooden holder mounted on the ceiling for the charging cable. Given the high voltage and current that these chargers are designed to handle, the cables are notably thick and heavy. The ceiling mount takes on the weight of the cable, easing the process for drivers who need to connect their EVs for charging. Despite this design feature aimed at reducing the physical effort required, the cables still present a noticeable heft when handled.

This design choice prioritizes ergonomics, facilitating a smoother plug-in and removal process for users, as explained by a senior technical engineer from Gravity to InsideEVs. To address safety and convenience, if the charging cable is not returned to its port, the ceiling-mounted system is capable of retracting the cable, ensuring it does not remain hanging and potentially create hazards.

Furthermore, Gravity is exploring the development of a stand-alone pedestal model for these charging units, catering to outdoor environments where wall mounting is not feasible.

Gravity’s EV Charging Evolution in NYC

Gravity has ambitions to elevate its charging capabilities by introducing one-megawatt chargers, although a specific timeline has not been established. “This will necessitate a fresh round of UL testing, following some minor equipment adjustments. We’re prepared to start this process as soon as there’s evident demand,” a representative from Gravity explained to InsideEVs. Currently, the focus is on deploying thousands of DC fast chargers annually.

Moshe Cohen, Gravity’s CEO, shared insights into the company’s installation strategy with InsideEVs, highlighting a self-sufficient approach similar to Tesla’s. “Like Tesla, we handle all aspects of installation in-house, eliminating the need for third-party installers,” Cohen stated. This shift to self-reliance came after previous attempts to use external equipment proved unsatisfactory. “We’re now committed to developing our technology, aiming to launch six different models and prioritize rapid deployment.”

The charging station officially opened to the public and commercial fleets on March 4, 2024, offering services seven days a week. Gravity has also implemented on-site attendants to quickly address any issues, ensuring minimal downtime for the chargers. An added perk is the free parking available, setting the Gravity station apart as one of the rare standalone DC fast-charging locations in New York City that does not charge for parking.

As this station has just begun operations, its real-world performance and user-friendliness remain to be seen. However, given its advantageous location and the absence of parking fees, it’s anticipated to attract a significant number of both individual and fleet EV drivers in the near future.

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