Formed about a year ago to focus exclusively on electric vehicles in the livery industry, Zapp Electric is pushing for a wider adoption of EV charging stations in New York and New Jersey. Teaming up with New Jersey Clean Cities, Empire Clean Cities, and Clean Communities of Central New York, Zapp’s founder, Arie Tehrani, is working to tap into available funding sources, collaborate with existing/planned DC fast-charger sites, seek partners for the projects, and access electric utility “make ready” programs.
In an effort to accelerate Zapp’s plan, the trio of Clean Cities Coalitions are also assisting in meeting local codes and standards for engineering, installation, and operation of the fast-charging sites. NJ Clean Cities Coordinator Chuck Feinberg is also assisting the Zapp team on exploring the potential of adding solar and battery storage to the projects moving forward. Having access to renewable power and the ability to manage demand charges, along with the potential to participate in Vehicle to Grid (V2G) programs, could lower the operating costs, and make the DC fast charging more affordable to end users.
Zapp Electric is pushing for a wider adoption of public DC fast charging stations in New Jersey and New York.
DC Fast Chargers to Improve EV Operations
Zapp’s Tehrani started his mission in late 2019 after building up one of the largest fleets of livery vehicles — 3,600 vehicles — and beginning to add a number of EVs, which includes a mixture of Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S sedans. Zapp owns the necessary licenses/medallions, provides insurance, interviews drivers, provides monthly leases, and performs operator training. After servicing the major travel corridors in the vicinity of multiple New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania airports, Zapp quickly realized that the vehicle operators would need to rely on DC fast charging to operate their EV vehicles successfully and profitably. Access to DC fast charging is critical, as many of Zapp’s drivers live in metropolitan, multi-family housing complexes. These buildings do not currently tend to offer access to charging infrastructure, so charging their vehicles overnight was more than just a simple hassle.
Grant Funding and Utility Programs Aid Electrification
With assistance from the Clean Cities Coalitions, agreements were put in place with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to utilize its DC fast chargers at JFK airport. Also, a nearly $5 million grant was successfully obtained from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) for the installation of two public access lots — with funding applications written in large part by the Clean Cities Coalitions — offering two dozen 160kw DC fast chargers at areas adjacent to airports where drivers will have the ability to “top off” their vehicles, giving them more than 300 miles of daily range. These publicly available lots will also have a variety of amenities available to the drivers, including vehicle interior cleaning facilities, rest rooms, vending machines, and prayer rooms.
The Clean Cities Coaltions in New Jersey and New York are assisting Zapp with grant writing to secure project funding.
The Zapp team specifically selected off-airport sites to also facilitate their use by other fleets. Typically, airport roads would make usage of on-site airport DC fast chargers less accessible for local commercial fleets that are now starting to purchase medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles. Access to the airport charging sites may be too difficult to accommodate these larger vehicles, so Zapp looks forward to serving them.
At Zapps’ New York City headquarters in Queens, funding through Con Edison’s Electric Vehicle PowerReady Program — formerly called the Make Ready program — has been obtained to get the necessary 480-volt service and other utility upgrades needed. Also, Public Service Enterprise Group (PSE&G), New Jersey’s primary electric utility, recently received regulatory approval to offer a similar program, giving Zapp the ability to create similar sites in the Garden State.
Zapp Offers Line of DC Fast Chargers
Considerable time and effort have gone into creating the operating software and obtaining approvals for Zapps’ unique charging stations. The company’s line of DC fast chargers is geared to the livery industry, and the Clean Cities Coalitions are assisting with local permitting, along with real estate issues and reaching out to nearby commercial medium-duty fleets that are starting to deploy EVs.
Zapp stresses the importance of collaboration and vehicle incentives to reach the emission reduction goals set by each state.
When creating this type of charging infrastructure, Zapp realized that each location has its’ own unique challenges that need to be met, not the least of which is scheduling the project with the funding sources coming from different programs at different times. As additional charging sites get installed, Zapp stresses the importance that all parties collaborate to reach the ambitious goals set by each state on replacing fossil fuel powered livery vehicles with EVs. While the increase in electric vehicle models will provide greater opportunities, expanding vehicle incentives must also contribute to providing clean, efficient ride-sharing choices for commuters, mass transit users, and the general public.