CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The newest electric vehicle (EV) charging station in the Queen City has been used about once a day in its first month.
But the team behind the first-of-its-kind charger isn't bothered by that number.
"Some of them are short, we've had people that kind of come over just to test out the unit," Robert Cox, the Associate Director of the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center at UNC Charlotte, said. "But this is really about a technology that could basically be a place for people to charge if they don't have a single-family garage situation."
According to a 2021 report from the Fuels Institute, about 70-80% of EV charging occurs at home or at a workplace parking lot.
Cox's team at UNC Charlotte got funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for a pilot project to create a different kind of charger, one that would be attached to an existing light pole.
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Last month, Gov. Roy Cooper and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles held an event to debut the new charger.
Four more of these pilot chargers will be tested in various North Carolina communities over the next few months, according to Cox.
"We are really just trying to investigate, you know, the chargers in those dense urban areas...where you could potentially begin to use this existing street lighting infrastructure to provide access to charging," Cox said.
Cox said DOE is invested in seeing different types of EV charging stations as more drivers become interested in the new cars.
Charlotte is one of the select cities piloting the new stations, with a unique situation of a public-private partnership to use electricity from Duke Energy.
"I think we have the right kind of mindset here to say, can we try the technology out and just try to understand it?" Cox said. "Is this an option that makes sense?"
Cox's team will report its findings to DOE in a year.