New York’s Newest Public EV Charger Could Add 200 Miles Of Range In 5 Minutes

New York City is leaping forward with electric vehicles with a sense of urgency never felt before. There are more electric taxis on NYC’s streets than any other U.S. city, thanks to new rules that require all new for-hire vehicles to be electric. Now, companies are racing to establish a charging infrastructure to ensure that these electric cab drivers, as well as private EV owners, have enough options to plug in.

Gravity, a Google-backed start-up that began as an electric taxi fleet operator back in 2021, inaugurated what it claims to be the fastest DC charging station in the U.S. today. The chargers are located in a parking lot in the heart of Manhattan, just a block away from Times Square at 401-471 West 42nd Street. It’s one of the densest and the most crowded areas on the planet where installing dozens of DC fast chargers is anything but easy.

Get Fully Charged

The U.S. needs more reliable DC fast chargers.

The lack of easy-to-find and reliable charging options remains a sore point for broad EV adoption in the U.S. It’s also one of the reasons OEMs have faced slower-than-expected demand recently. However, mass deployment of chargers like these could turn things around.

NYC 500 kW Gravity Charging Center6

How They Work

Technically, you can just plug in and not worry about payments and authentication, except for the first time. 

“We have a mobile kiosk held by the lot attendant who handles [the payment]. Authentication depends on the car model, but the first time you charge we’ll register your details (if it doesn’t automatically come from the car). It assigns the car a unique ID and every time you return it will recognize the vehicle and link to that profile,” a Gravity spokesperson told InsideEVs.

Right now, the cost of charging is a flat 59 cents per kilowatt-hour, but Gravity might incorporate dynamic pricing over time. 

NYC 500 kW Gravity Charging Center4

Charging Speed

The chargers are rated for 500 kilowatts and can theoretically add up to 2,400 miles per hour. That means 40 miles of range in a minute and 200 miles in about five minutes—just the amount of time it takes to refuel a gas car. I saw the charging statistics for a Kia EV6 parked at the station. The EV6—which is based on an 800-volt architecture—peaked at about 240 kW and seemed to hold a relatively flat 200+ kW charging curve from 10% to 60%. It was unplugged after that.

Charging speeds depend on the maximum voltage and current ratings of EV batteries, and the charger itself. So take the 500 kW figure with a grain of salt. However, this future-proofing could reap benefits in the long term when the U.S. gets truly capable EVs with batteries that can accept high voltage and current. 

Tesla Superchargers can deliver up to 250 kW. Some of the newer Electrify America dispensers are rated for 350 kW. ChargePoint claims that its Power Link 2.0 DC fast chargers can deliver up to 500 kW, “depending upon configuration.” Mercedes-Benz, which uses these ChargePoint dispensers at its newly opened charging station in Atlanta, has rated them for 400 kW.

At this point in the U.S., no EV can really charge at even 350 kW consistently in the real world. Some of the fastest-charging EVs, including the Hyundai Ioniq 6, Lucid Air, and the Porsche Taycan among others, have charging speeds of about 200-250 kW. Only the Lucid Air, Rimac Nevera, and GMC Hummer EV are known to reach charging speeds of over 300 kW.

Although real-world speeds of over 400 kW EV are a reality on the other side of the world, in China. Someday these speeds might be possible in the U.S., but that day isn’t today.

NYC 500 kW Gravity Charging Center1

Look And Feel

At the inauguration event, to which InsideEVs was invited, at least six EVs were plugged in. There were 24 charging dispensers, or “Distributed Energy Access Points” as Gravity calls them. Each dispenser is a black wall-mounted box with a vertical LED charging indicator. It is about the size of a full-sized check-in suitcase. Gravity says it is 8 inches thick and 18 inches tall.

They’re way smaller than any other public DC fast-charging dispensers. They might even pass off as Level 2 chargers.

An interesting design element is the ceiling-mounted wooden charging cable holder. Because these chargers are engineered to dispense a huge amount of voltage and current, the cables are thick and extremely heavy. The panel on the ceiling holds all the weight. Drivers just have to unplug it from the connector below and move it to the charging port on their EVs—I tried doing this, and still, the cable felt heavy.

It was an ergonomic choice, designed to make the action of plugging in and out relatively easy so that customers don’t have to work their arms out, a senior technical engineer at Gravity, told InsideEVs. If EV owners forget to put the cable back into the port after charging, the ceiling-mounted panel can retract the cable to prevent it from dangling loose, the engineer said.

Gravity is developing a pedestal-like structure for outdoor locations where the dispensers cannot be wall-mounted.

Gravity DC Fast Charger NYC

What’s Next For The Start-Up?

Gravity ultimately wants to install one-megawatt chargers as well. But there’s no timeline for that yet. “It will require a new set of UL tests, based on making some minor modifications to the equipment. We can quickly undertake that once we see a need in the market,” a Gravity spokesperson told InsideEVs. But for now, the company wants to “install thousands of [DC fast chargers] every year.” 

“If you look at why Tesla Superchargers are easy to install, it’s because Tesla does everything by itself,” Moshe Cohen, the CEO of Gravity, told InsideEVs. “We do everything ourselves as well, we don’t need installers,” Cohen added. “Previously, we tried to buy other people’s equipment and realized that it was terrible. So we’re building this stuff ourselves. We are going to have six different versions. From now on it’s going to be just deploy deploy deploy.”

The station opened to the public and commercial fleets yesterday, March 4, 2024. The chargers would be open seven days a week. There are on-site attendants to ensure that if any chargers break down, they’re repaired with minimum downtime, Cohen said. 

NYC 500 kW Gravity Charging Center3

Parking is free. This makes the Gravity station one of the few freestanding DC fast-charging stations in New York City.

With the charging station being brand new, there’s little to be said about its real-world reliability and ease of use. But we’ll have the answers in the coming weeks and months as individual and fleet drivers will likely pour into this station in droves given its prime location and no parking fees.