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Health, Science & Tech

Lack of Parking May Be One of the Electric Cars Biggest Hurdles

Electronic vehicles (EVs) currently make up about 1 percent of the automotive market. Some studies predict by 2030 that number could be as high as 80 percent, though researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU) have found that parking might be one of the technology's greatest obstacles.

EVs are any battery-powered automotive vehicles, whether hybrid or completely battery powered.

Professors of engineering and public policy at CMU have compiled data that show a lack of residential parking and charging capabilities across the country.

Refueling these battery-powered automobiles requires access to an outlet within the reach of a parking space because charging can take several hours. Though most innovation in the market has focused on public-use chargers, according to researchers, EVs will more commonly be charged at home, which poses a serious problem for drivers who can’t charge overnight.

“Only about a quarter of vehicles have charging available at the residence. About 40 percent of households have charging that might be available but the thing is the houses that have charging available have multiple vehicles, so they might only have space for one vehicle,” says CMU Professor of Engineering Chris Hendrickson.

Researchers think that an inability for most households to charge their EVs will discourage the progress of future sales.

“We think that this is going to be kind of a long term barrier unless house builders and people who are doing renovations start thinking about putting in both dedicated parking and charging capabilities,” says Hendrickson.

Hendrickson hopes that landlords will begin to offer improved parking, and those who already have parking will take charging capabilities into account whenever they are considering renovations.

“It goes down to people uncluttering their garage, people installing new charging stations, changing the electric circuitry to enable charging - all of those things have to be done,” says Hendrickson.

Some parking facilities in the Pittsburgh area, such as the CMU electric garage space and the UPMCMontefiore Hospital Parking Garage, have begun to add charging stations to their design. Currently there are no incentives being put in place to increase residential charging opportunities.