Remember when the Prius first hit the market, and the D.C. Beltway authorities opened the HOV lanes to electric cars as an incentive to switch? In less than six months, so many urban elites traded in their trusty SUVs for hybrids that the carpool lanes were as bogged down as the rest of the highway.
Never one to be deterred, our nation’s capital is keeping things posh for hybrids. Last year D.C. installed its first public electric car charging station. Now, thanks to this month’s first private charging station in D.C., hybrid owners never have to rub elbows with gas guzzlers, or even with other hybrid drivers.
The ChargePoint units run $1,000-$2,000, and most garages that have a single ChargePoint can easily expand to add 8-10 stations without significant cost. While they haven’t yet planned for that many at 425 Mass Ave, they’re hoping to see an uptick of electric car purchases by their residents in the coming years. We spoke with one resident who’d happened upon today’s grand unveiling and she was incredibly positive, both about the building, and about the future of electric vehicles. A law student at Georgetown University, she was ecstatic at the idea of one day owning a Tesla and using the charging station as soon as she’s paid off her student loans.
A charge from one of the ChargePoint stations will run you up to $5 (if your battery is mostly drained) to as little as $0.50 for just a little juice [Per our commenter below, this may not be correct pricing. We’ve asked for clarification from Car Charging group, as the prices above are just for the power, not for its distribution – Editor]. Currently, most electric cars have a range under 300 miles, which is comparable to the gas mileage I get out of my Jetta. Of course, a tank of gas runs me close to $40, so the idea of being able to fill up for a scant $5 has me thinking there’s something to these beasties.
On hand to demonstrate the electric cars was Tesla Motors’ Shaun Philips, who offered free test rides to all of us, as well as limitless information about their Roadster product. Sure, that sports car might retail at $109,000 (look for a DC dealership at 1050 K Street in the not-too-distant future)…
Sounds great, and love the idea of a private apartment building offering innovative perks. But you have to admit: It’s a little silly that these cars are supposedly designed to herald a brighter future, and targeted only to the kind of yuppies weekend warriors that would pay to charge their cars in private.
Even the claims that hybrids are “environmentally friendly” seem dubious in light of how little research we’ve seen into how we’ll dispose of the tons and tons of discarded hybrid batteries slated to hit the landfills in a few years. I wrote at The Washington Examiner:
Electric cars are marketed as one way to make the future better for everyone. But with little research into what we’ll do with discarded batteries (and battery acids), and even less research into the economics of charging substantially higher prices for non-swank mid-sized sedans ostensibly designed to sell, electric cars are more the purview of the upper class than the people’s wagon designed to improve the everyman’s life.
I’d be hard pressed to trade my gas guzzler for a silent futuristic piece of plastic, but no doubt it’s sweet to avoid the everyman by replenishing your car at a private station! Let’s hear it for capitalism, posturing, and…
Oh yea. About those discarded car batteries. We’ll just start selling them to China packaged up with our debt. I’m sure it will be fine.
Image credit: frankh’s flickr photostream.