Tesla Drivers Endure 90-Minute Wait at NYC Supercharger

Unintended consequences of NYC’s electric vehicle incentives for Uber and Lyft drivers.

Many people are convinced that New York City is the most fantastic metropolis in the world. With its towering skyscrapers, diverse mix of talented individuals from all over the globe, and thriving arts and culture scene, it’s easy to see why. However, amidst all of this splendor, there is one aspect that falls far short – the city’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. As electric vehicle sales continue to soar, the number of chargers available in the city is not keeping up with demand, causing existing chargers to become overburdened. This has created a challenging situation for rideshare drivers who have transitioned to using electric vehicles in their work.

Recently, a Tesla driver turned to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, with an urgent plea for help. “Mayday! I need assistance at Brooklyn NYC’s Tesla Supercharger. Charging my car is proving to be impossible. Please, Mr. Elon Musk,” begged the driver to the CEO. The photo attached depicted a gridlock of Teslas in a parking area.

As I embarked on a train journey from midtown Manhattan, where the headquarters of InsideEVs is located, to the Coney Island station, my goal was to personally investigate the situation at hand. Upon arrival, I encountered numerous rideshare drivers who had switched to electric vehicles in response to New York City’s revised regulations for for-hire licenses. However, these drivers received minimal assistance when it came to charging their electric cars.

According to a recent report, “This Supercharger is situated in the parking lot of a Raymour and Flanigan furniture store in the southernmost part of Brooklyn.” The location is surrounded by a Starbucks drive-thru on one side and a veterinary center on the other, while the street is lined with various automotive repair shops. Despite its convenient placement, the parking lot itself is not the most aesthetically pleasing, with visible transmission cables and tilted wooden light poles. However, it does offer a total of 12 Tesla dispensers and four EVgo stalls for electric vehicle charging. Unfortunately, during the visit, the screens on the EVgo chargers were displaying an “out of service” message.

Familiar scenes of Teslas queued up at charging stations may not surprise us, as we have witnessed this sight numerous times. However, at this current spot, the lines have been consistently long since its opening a few weeks ago, according to Bezgod Hoja, a Turkish Uber driver.

Hoja, seated in a sleek white Model S P85D, clad in a chic black puffer jacket and blue denim, lamented, “I often spend an entire hour here just to reach the charging station, and then another hour waiting for at least 80% battery capacity.”

Hoja resides in the neighboring Seagate community on Coney Island, a mere five blocks from this particular station. He stated that Tesla initially installed all of the dispensers in March of 2023, but did not activate them until late last year. According to Hoja, the station faced delays in obtaining necessary approvals from the city. (Although unverified by InsideEVs, it should be noted that New York is known for its sluggish permitting procedures.)

During my recent visit, I observed a total of twenty electric vehicles waiting to be charged at this particular station. Furthermore, an additional twelve were already connected to the charging ports, most of which belonged to Tesla cars with Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) plates. What was once considered a temporary inconvenience has now transformed into a recurring sight. The New York City TLC implemented a new regulation last year, which required all new for-hire vehicle (FHV) licenses to be exclusively for electric cars. This decision was made in hopes of promoting a more environmentally friendly fleet, reducing air pollution, and decreasing the reliance on traditional gas-powered vehicles. Interestingly, it seems that drivers have readily embraced this shift towards electric transportation.

In the past year, since the regulation was put into effect, TLC has authorized more than 4,700 requests from both individual vehicle owners and rideshare corporations. Moreover, TLC is constantly approving new applications.

Motorists may opt to buy electric vehicles (EVs), take advantage of current federal incentives available at the point of purchase, apply for TLC plates, and shell out significant sums for insurance, all in hopes of reducing their carbon footprint. However, they may encounter a major obstacle in the form of an inadequate charging infrastructure.Despite investing in EVs and fulfilling necessary requirements such as obtaining TLC plates and purchasing insurance, drivers may face the challenge of limited charging options. This could potentially deter them from using their EVs regularly or relying on them as their primary mode of transportation.In spite of the government’s efforts to promote EV usage through incentives, the current state of the charging network remains a hindrance. The lack of sufficient charging stations can lead to inconvenience and even anxiety for EV owners who may find themselves stranded with low battery while on the road.Although the shift towards sustainable transportation is gaining momentum, it is essential to address the issue of charging infrastructure in order to fully reap the benefits of EVs. This includes expanding the network of charging stations and ensuring their accessibility and reliability.In conclusion, while drivers may be motivated to embrace eco-friendly alternatives like EVs, the success of this transition hinges on the availability and efficiency of charging options. It is imperative for authorities to prioritize the

When I inquired of Hoja why he didn’t choose a different Supercharger, he expressed surprise. “Where?” He gestured towards the map on his Model S’s infotainment screen, which showed lengthy queues at all Superchargers in the area. The route to JFK Airport, the sole Tesla Supercharger in the city without parking fees, required an hour-long journey. Likewise, a visit to two downtown Brooklyn stations – where parking was available for a fee – during rush hours took 40 minutes, and the indicated wait times on the map were equally lengthy.

Ellie Simpson, a fellow Uber driver and also a wedding coordinator, dealt with a similar predicament. She was adorned in a plush coat in shades of dark brown and white while seated inside a sleek black Model Y Performance. The cozy air blowing from the car’s vents briefly thawed my cold hand as I prepared to interview her. “As a single mother of three, this waiting in line is really affecting my earnings. I could be making more money for my kids’ food instead of wasting an hour and a half every day,” Simpson expressed with frustration.

Simpson tested the quick charging stations for electric vehicles at the behest of ride-hailing company Revel, which does not impose parking fees. However, Simpson noted that the charging rates could be sluggish at times and expressed confusion at the steep $40 pre-authorization charge for each charging session, especially for those who cannot afford such a sudden outflow of funds.

According to Simpson, drivers for Uber make approximately $35 to $50 per hour, depending on the level of demand. She explained that their current location is one of the rare spots in the city where parking fees are not a concern, attracting a lot of interest. However, due to the harsh weather conditions, they have to charge the vehicles more often, increasing costs. Just recently, Simpson arrived at the station with only five percent battery remaining, but by the time she connected to the charger, it had dropped down to one percent.

Simpson was dissatisfied with the excessive charge at heavily trafficked Superchargers. In order to ensure efficient operation at these locations and discourage customers from fully charging their electric vehicles, Tesla has implemented a $1 per minute fee for any time spent plugged in after reaching 80% state of charge. The rate at which vehicles can be charged is highest at low battery levels and gradually decreases as they near full capacity.

Residing in New York City, many of us do not have the luxury of charging our vehicles at home. This particular station is a half an hour drive from my residence, making it crucial for me to maximize my charging time. In lieu of being charged for usage, Simpson believes that Tesla and local officials should prioritize increasing the number of individual charging stations instead.

Simpson intends to draft a letter addressed to Uber, expressing her dissatisfaction with the current incentives offered by the company for electric vehicle (EV) drivers. According to her, these incentives do not adequately compensate for the decrease in drive time and earnings. In her view, being part of a ridesharing program has turned into more of a hindrance rather than a perk.

The Supercharger in Brooklyn is now accessible for all electric vehicles that are compatible with CCS, not just Tesla models. Second, a taxi driver who drives a first-generation Hyundai Ioniq Electric expressed his worries about the long queues and decreased range during the winter season, which impacts his earnings. According to him, when the heat is turned off, the Ioniq Electric can go up to 190 miles, but this number decreases to 160 miles when the heat is on.

Recently, a client expressed interest in traveling to Connecticut. I was on board with the idea, but I asked for a 30-minute charging break before starting the journey. However, they refused, and I ended up losing a significant amount of money due to delays caused by overcrowded charging stations.To make matters worse, the freezing temperature only added to our frustration. While I can drive up to eight hours in the summer, this car requires charging every six hours during harsh winters like this. Frustrated, I gestured towards the battery reading on my gauge cluster with both hands.

It seems that both Tesla and Uber have taken notice of the challenges faced by their drivers. According to a statement given to Axios last week, Uber has begun sharing information with Tesla in New York City, specifically data on the most frequently traveled routes by their drivers. This partnership aims to identify areas where charging stations are most needed and address the issue accordingly.

“Uber drivers cite the cost of ownership and access to convenient charging as the top two barriers preventing them from transitioning to electric vehicles. We are thrilled to partner with Tesla to address both of these challenges,” stated Andrew Macdonald, senior vice president of mobility and business operations at Uber, in an interview with Axios.

At the Coney Island Tesla Supercharger, three unidentified drivers expressed similar worries, while others were unfazed. A pair of non-taxi private owners shared that they didn’t have an issue with occasionally waiting in line at the charging station.Upon returning to the Tesla Supercharger located at Coney Island, three additional drivers, who preferred to remain anonymous, voiced similar apprehensions. However, not all individuals were affected. Two personal owners who did not operate taxis disclosed that waiting in line at the station once or twice a week did not bother them.

One of the individuals, who works as a truck driver, did not use his Model Y frequently. Another individual, who was passing time by playing Candy Crush, claimed that the line was moving swiftly. However, this was not the case. For rideshare drivers and all electric vehicle (EV) drivers, it is crucial to have a reliable charging network. According to certain estimates, these drivers cover anywhere between 100 to 300 miles per day. Therefore, a more robust charging infrastructure should have been implemented much earlier.

According to Hoja, we should not place the blame on Tesla. The company is making significant effort towards this cause. Instead, it is the city, state, and authorities that are hindering the progress of adoption.Hoja stated that Tesla is not to be blamed for the slow rate of adoption. The company is putting in maximum effort to promote the use of their products. It is the lack of cooperation from the city, state, and authorities that is impeding the advancement of adoption.

Update: It is uncertain whether the EVgo Chargers discussed in this article are brand new and awaiting activation as their screens currently show an “Out of service” notification.

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