electric car charging
A 2011 Prius Hybrid EV charging in a Montclair parking lot.
COURTESY GRAY RUSSELL

By Wilma Hurwitz
for Montclair Local

There’s a revolution in transportation happening right in front of our eyes – new plug-in cars that spew out no air pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, cost less for drivers to fuel up, plus, they are quiet and a joy to drive, said Gray Russell, Montclair’s Sustainability Officer.

For more than eight years, Montclair has been moving toward supporting electric vehicles (EVs) and now offers six public charging stations.

“Just this month, the one-millionth plug-in car was sold in America, and Montclair has led the way in support of EVs by providing the infrastructure for powering them up,” Russell said.

Montclair offered its first EV charging station in 2010, with now six public charging stations in parking facilities around town. More are on the way, said Russell.

Several Montclair businesses have added them too, so Montclair now hosts about a dozen charging stations within the community — that’s more than any other town in the New York metropolitan area, according to Russell.

Public charging stations in Montclair are currently at:

  • Two in Montclair Center at the Fullerton Deck (next to YMCA on Park Street);
  • Two at Crescent Parking Deck behind Church Street between South Fullerton Avenue and South Park Street;
  • Two uptown in the Bellevue Avenue Upper Montclair shopping district.

Road signs direct EV drivers to the charging stations.

“When the township installs a public charging station, it adds more draw to our business districts and makes these areas more convenient for visitors and shoppers,” Russell said.

People with pluggable cars charge them at home, but EV drivers also want to know that if needed, they can “top up” wherever they go. Now they know that they can get “charged up” when they shop in Montclair.

Nauna’s Bella Casa/Quick Chek has two in their Valley Road Plaza at 148 Valley Road near Van Vleck Street. One is a high-voltage fast charger that could fill up your car in a half hour.

The Bravitas Group, noted for building and owning a number of LEED-certified, ecologically-friendly properties in town has installed a charging station at each of their two office locations — Hillside Square at 8 Hillside Ave. across from Hillside School and 105 Grove St. Brassworks.

Montclair’s planning agency and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority helps Montclair to assess the best spots to add public charging stations primarily in business districts. Russell said Watchung Plaza or the South End could be next. However he said the business districts should help fund the installations since the chargers are amenities that mostly benefit their businesses.

Why drive electric?

Bob Silver, CEO of The Bravitas Group on Grove Street said he bought his Chevy Bolt pure battery eight years ago and never looked back. His vehicle has a range of 250 miles before he needs to recharge.

“I was an early adopter and I love it. While my business focuses on building green, I also want to ‘live’ green. I never have to go to a service station, which I don’t like to do,” he said.

Another Bravitas Group employee drives a Chevy Volt hybrid from Bernardsville and powers up during the workday.

Tom Moloughney, electric vehicle consultant, writer and sales trainer, said driving an electric car goes beyond being an environmentalist.

“As much as 70 percent of the money spent on gasoline leaves America and goes to a foreign country. One hundred percent of the money we spend on electricity stays in America and is distributed into our local and regional economies. Electric cars allow us to keep all of our energy dollars here in America,” Moloughney said.

Consumer concerns include purchase price and maintenance. Costs range: Hybrid Prius $30,000, Chevrolet Volt $34,395, Nissan Leaf $36,200, Chevrolet Bolt $37,495, Tesla Model S $67,000. Delivery fees can run about $900. Certain buyers qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit and there is no state sales tax on electric cars in New Jersey.

“And it costs about a half to one-third the cost of gasoline to power an EV,” said Moloughney. “Very little maintenance is required on electric cars. No oil changes, spark plugs, fuel filters, tune-ups. Beyond the mandatory 90,000-mile battery check-up, all you basically need to do is change the tires and wiper blades.”

One drawback, Moloughney admits, is there aren’t enough public charging stations. But it’s getting better, he said.

“When I started driving electric in 2009, there were probably less than 100 public charging stations in the entire US. Currently there’s about 50,000 public charging stations across the country and hundreds more are being added every month,” he said.

New installations will include ultra-high-speed EV charging stations capable of adding 200 miles of range to an electric car in minutes of charging. Fast-charging stations can take 20 minutes to one hour to charge a vehicle; while the older models take between three and five hours.

The high-speed charging stations are part of a proposed New Jersey Bill that calls for at least 600 fast-charging stations at 300 locations across the state and another 1,000 regular charging stations by the end of 2021.

“Within a couple of years, there will be dozens of these ultra-high-speed EV charging stations around NJ. So the infrastructure is definitely coming,” said Moloughney.