Electric Vehicles Are here!

Green electric vehicle parking only sign in Boston Properties' West Garage

Public Charging Stations in Cambridge

The city is studying the deployment of electric vehicles as a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions. One key question is how to provide public charging infrastructure and charging options for residents who live in homes without garages or driveways.

We received a grant from the DOER and have installed 10 publically accessible Level 2 Coulomb charging stations at various locations throughout the city.

  • Department of Public Works, 147 Hampshire Street
    This station is open to the public from 6:00 P. M. to 6:00 A. M. on weekdays, and all day on weekends, ending at 6:00 A.M. on Mondays. There is one dedicated EV charging space in the public parking lot at the front of the building. The charging station can provide a Level 1 or 2 charge.
  • First St. Garage, 2nd level, entrance on Spring Street
    This station is open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It can charge two cars with a level 2 charge at the same time. There are two dedicated parking spots for EVs at this station.
  • City Lot #5 on Bishop Allen Drive, between Norfolk and Douglass St.
    This station is open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It can charge two cars with a level 2 charge at the same time. There are two dedicated parking spots for EVs at this station.

To find all Coulomb charging stations, use the Coulomb locator map.

The Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center also has a map of charging stations made by other manufacturers, as well as Coulomb.

Fees

All city-owned charging stations cost $1.25 per hour for the use of the station. The hourly fee has been set to meet three goals: cover the cost of electricity, cover the administrative fees associated with offering EV charging station services, and keep the cost per mile for electricity lower than the cost per mile for gas.

Electric car ribbon cuttingEVs will charge differently based on the car model, the size of the battery, and the level the battery contains when it begins to charge. At this point, Massachusetts state law does not allow for the re-sale of electricity, so the city cannot charge customers based on the kilowatt-hours used while charging at the station. The hourly rate is based on the average amount of electricity used by a range of EV models to charge in a one-hour period.

The hourly fee is assessed regardless of whether your car is charging or not. To avoid the hourly fee once the car has finished charging, disconnect from the EV charging station and move the car to another parking space.

The city’s EV charging station infrastructure is in its pilot phase. Policies related to charging EVs and any fees assessed for the use of the station may change based on data collected during the pilot phase.

To activate the stations, users will need either a contactless credit card (equipped with an RFID chip) or a ChargePoint America RFID card.

You can request a ChargePoint America card here. Chargepoint America will assess a fee of $4.95 for the RFID card.

About Electric Vehicles

Types

There are two types of electric vehicles:

  • Battery electric: These are all-electric vehicles with an electric motor in place of an internal combustion engine (ICE). The power used to run the electric motor is stored in the onboard battery that can be recharged from the regional power grid. The new EVs coming on the market are expected to have a range of 40 to 100 miles per charge, depending on battery size, driving and weather conditions.
  • Plug-in hybrids: These are vehicles that combine electric motors with internal combustion engines. The ICE can run the vehicle or recharge the batteries if the electricity runs low. Plug-in hybrids will get about 30 to 40 miles on the electric motor and battery alone. Unlike a hybrid vehicle, plug-in hybrids can be recharged from the electric grid.

The prices of EVs range from $27,990 for the Mitsubishi iMiEV to $100,000 for the luxury Tesla Roadster.

For information about available EV models, click here.

Tax Credits

Electric vehicles (both battery electric and plug-in hybrids) purchased after 2009 are eligible for a federal income tax credit ranging from $2,500 to $7,500, depending on the battery capacity. The full amount of the tax credit will decline after the manufacturer has sold 200,000 EVs.

A federal tax credit of up to $2,000 for home-based charging equipment is available .

EV Specs, Charge Time and Range

Battery size (kwh) On board charger Example model Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Range
120 VAC 15 amp 1.2kw 120 VAC 20 amp 1.6 kw 240 VAC 40 amp 6.5 kw 480 VAC 85 amp 60kw highly dependent on driving habits
16 3.3kw Chevy Volt 13 hrs 10hrs 3-4 hrs 16m 40 miles
24 3.3 kw Chevy Volt 20 hrs 15 hrs 6-7 hrs 30-40 m 100 miles
23 6.6 kw Ford Focus n/a n/a 3-4 hrs n/a 100 miles
16 3 kw Mitsubishi iMiEV 14 hrs 12 hrs 6-7 hrs n/a 80 miles
35 16 kw Tesla Roadster 29 hrs 29 hrs 21 hrs 5 hrs 244 miles

Charging Equipment

A woman charging an electric vehicle at the state-funded EV charging station in the Cambridgeside Galleria garageThere are different types of charging equipment referred to as Levels 1, 2, and 3. The differences are related to the speed of charging.

  • Level 1 is the slowest and involves plugging into a standard wall outlet.
  • Level 2 will be the most common type of charging equipment, at least initially, given that it costs significantly less than Level 3. Level 2 charging uses specialized equipment with a 240-volt connection, which is similar to the type of plug used for dryer connections.
  • Level 3 is rapid charging, but is currently too expensive for widespread adoption.

Most EV owners will charge at home. Auto manufacturers are partnering with charging equipment vendors to make home installation easy and streamlined for customers.

An industry standard has been established for the coupler that connects EVs to the charging equipment. This ensures that EV owners will be able to recharge their vehicles at any charging station, whether at home or in a public place.

Environmental Advantages of EVs

The city encourages residents and employees to walk, bike, ride public transit, and carpool rather than driving alone. These are all environmentally better choices than driving alone. But if you drive alone, electric vehicle technology is an improvement over the internal combustion engine (ICE).

Emissions

Battery electric vehicles do not emit any pollution at the tailpipe. However, because most EVs will recharge their batteries from the regional power grid, there are emissions associated with the production of electricity. How the electricity that supplies the grid is produced determines the environmental footprint of electric vehicles.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, EVs can emit up to 99 percent less conventional air pollution than ICE vehicles even when charging from the grid. EVs can emit up to 70 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than ICE vehicles. If an EV is charged from renewable sources such as solar or wind, then zero emissions result.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) have both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. When they are running on the electric motor, they do not emit pollution at the tailpipe. But when the ICE takes over or recharges the battery, pollutants are emitted.

Efficiency

Electric vehicles are more efficient than vehicles with internal combustion engines. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, electric motors convert 75% of the chemical energy from the battery to power the wheels—internal combustion engines only convert 20% of the energy stored in gasoline.

Maintenance

Electric vehicles are simpler and cheaper to maintain than ICE vehicles. EVs do not need regular oil changes.

Handling

Electric vehicles are better-suited for urban driving compared to internal combustion engines. They provide a smoother, quieter ride and stronger acceleration in the stop-and-go traffic of cities.

Resources

For More Information

For more information, contact Bronwyn Cooke, bcooke@cambridgema.gov, 617/349-4604.