We Check Out The Highest Powered EV Charging Station In The U.S.

By automotive-mag.com 6 Min Read

One of the biggest impediments to a rapid transition from combustion vehicles to EVs is the lack of ubiquitous, reliable, high-speed public charging, and there will be no one silver bullet in achieving that goal. Instead, a multitude of companies offering different solutions together will blanket the country, and eventually, the world. 

However, I recently checked out one such company, Gravity Charging, a newcomer in the industry that opened up its first charging site a few weeks ago in of all places, the heart of New York City and it has the potential to be a game-changer. 

I say “of all places” because when you think of large electric vehicle DC Fast charging sites, you probably think of large parking lots, with the chargers occupying a small corner of the entire location.

In New York City, as well as in other major cities, real estate is costly, and most parking areas are located on the ground floor of the buildings and often underground. Additionally, most locations can’t provide the power necessary without expensive infrastructure upgrades, but Gravity claims they have a way around that problem. For those reasons, there are very few DC fast chargers in Manhattan. 

That has been a huge problem for electric vehicle adoption in the city and other urban areas and that’s unfortunate because the use case for EVs in major cities is even more attractive than it is for those that live in the suburbs or further out in the country.

City dwellers drive fewer miles because everything is located close to where they live and work, so much so that many don’t own a vehicle at all. Therefore, the lower average driving range of an EV is not an issue—but charging it up when needed is. 

I know this first hand because I live about 50 miles from New York City and over the past 15 years I’ve been driving my EVs to the city and have never had a place to conveniently charge my cars in Manhattan. Revel has charging locations in Brooklyn and Queens, but nothing in Midtown, which I often visit. 

We started with a price of $0.59 per kWh here, but if you go to one of our (future) sites in an outer borough, the sites that we will announce, it will cost a lot less, and there will be sites that are very, very cheap… Moshe Cohen, CEO of Gravity Charging 

Part of the problem has been the lack of space in the garages where inches matter and many locations cannot spare the needed two to three feet of space in front of the parking spot for the DC Fast charger. Gravity solved that issue with its innovative compact chargers that are wall-mounted up near the ceiling and allow the vehicles to pull right up to the garage’s wall. Additionally, the ceiling-mounted cable management system is designed such that the cable can reach any corner of the vehicle parked in the spot.

The Gravity Charging Center is located at 401-471 West 42nd Street, which is just one block from Times Square. There are twenty-four chargers, each with the ability to deliver up to 500 kW and have been tested to provide such power for many days continuously, so that’s not a peak power limit that the units can only do for a short period of time. 

Gravity's 200 kW curbside charging point

Gravity’s 200 kW curbside charging point in front of the main charging center on 42nd street in New York City. 

During my visit, I was able to speak with Gravity’s Founder and CEO, Moshe Cohen, and ask him some basic questions about the company, such as how are they able to deliver so much power without the need to upgrade the building’s electric infrastructure. 

Cohen explained that the system’s software intelligently manages the available surplus power of the entire block, which at any given time is more than enough to power the site. I would have liked to follow up on this one specific topic, because I think there needs to be a more detailed explanation of how this is achieved, but I was under a time constraint. 

Cohen added the company has plans for expansion across the country, with locations not only in inner-city garages but public parking lots and also curbside charging with Gravity’s pole-mounted charging solution. The pole-mounted charger is a 200 kW unit that has its power cabinet installed at a remote location.

I’ve already reached out to Gravity to set up a second interview so I can get a better understanding of how Gravity’s power management software works. If Cohen can really repeat what he’s done on 42nd Street around the rest of New York City and other areas of the country, without spending hundreds of millions of dollars in utility upgrades, then Gravity has indeed taken a huge step forward in the DC fast charging industry. 

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