Probably not. But if the city of Palo Alto has anything to say about housing trends, electric vehicle chargers will eventually be as common as the dishwasher – in its neighborhoods, at least.
The city, which is home to Stanford University and major tech companies like Tesla Motors, is requiring that all future homes construction include an electric vehicle (EV) charger. The council is also mulling over the possibility of requiring commercial facilities to have charging stations to offset the needs of visitors and tourists. According to the city council, which approved the measure unanimously, the decision to require chargers in new homes was a no-brainer: it just made good sense for local home owners.
Local resident Sven Thesen apparently agrees. Thesen had installed a electric vehicle charger in front of his house for his neighbors to use on their way to work. His community service he said, made Palo Alto “the first city in the nation to have a curbside residential EV filling station.”
It’s worth asking though, whether the city council’s decision to spread the electricity is a gesture of generosity and green thinking, or a desire to encourage more brisk business for California’s most famous EV manufacturer?
I suspect it is a bit of both. Council member Pat Burt noted that in some cases, workers who live outside of Palo Alto are being prevented from driving their EVs to work because of a lack of charging stations in the area. That can be a problem for a city that sees itself aligned with a cutting-edge sustainable market.
Installing chargers in new homes is also in line with current thinking in Sacramento, where Governor Jerry Brown just signed a couple of bills that will help increase access to electric chargers throughout California.
Palo Alto’s move to add chargers to new homes probably won’t make much of a dent in local pocket books, either – certainly not the way the dishwasher did some 40 years ago. The average house in Palo Alto already tops $1.5 million in America’s fifth most expensive city (2012) and median household earnings are comfortably above the $100,000 mark. Paying a bit more for one’s own built-in electric vehicle charger probably won’t make a difference to Palo Alto homeowners, but it certainly sets a contemporary benchmark for future sustainable housing markets in other parts of the nation.
Universal charging station symbol courtesy of U.S. Department of Transportation
Tesla public charging station with solar collector - image courtesy of Justdafax