Most central New York residents are too afraid to make the switch to electric vehicles because of the long distance it takes to travel between home and work, a fear otherwise known as range anxiety. But a Syracuse University graduate student is hoping to change all that by putting a portable charging station on the market soon.
“It’s easier than people think,” Syracuse University graduate student Josh Aviv explained while plugging a five-pronged charging cord into the front side of his car. “It’s not that big of a jump from gas to electric.”
And he should know. Aviv recently purchased a Chevy Volt, a hybrid electric car that also runs on gasoline, and says the move changed his life. But electric cars have more or less failed to penetrate the market in New York State, especially in Syracuse.
“Syracuse has been known as a hard place for cars with smaller batteries — Leafs, Smart Cars,” said Aviv. “It’s been a little bit harder not just because of the harsh climate but because the infrastructure is just not here yet.”
Last year, however, Aviv won the Innovation Fund from the Syracuse Center of Excellence to jump start his own entrepreneurial venture: Spark Charge, LLC. During the final year of his undergraduate career, Aviv dedicated his free time to educating people about electric cars and discovered that the main barrier was a phenomenon described as range anxiety, or the fear of not being able to make it from point A to point B while driving an electric vehicle.
By the time Aviv graduates with a Master’s degree in information management and data science this May, though, Aviv is hoping to launch a solution: a portable charging station.
The public charging stations located throughout Syracuse — downtown, Franklin Square, DestinyUSA, Westcott, Liverpool and Dewitt — are all Level 2 chargers, which means it takes three to eight hours for a battery to fully refuel. And after a visit to each of these sites, Aviv noticed none of them were being used. People came and went, but the stations remained untouched.