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First 'fast charger' for LA electric cars unveiled in Arts District

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, August 10, 2012, at 11:00AM
Zan Dubin Scott

Chargers in the Arts District parking lot.

Officials unveiled the first "fast charger" for electric cars in the city of Los Angeles on Thursday -- and it's located in a downtown L.A. parking lot.

The Blink DC fast charger can reportedly charge most electric vehicles (EV) in about 30 minutes. Although charging time varies greatly depending on the type of car and battery. EV chargers typically need at least a few hours, most overnight, to completely charge the car.

But Yuval Bar-Zemer of Linear City, a development firm that's working on the Arts District parking lot and also created the Biscuit Company and Toy Factory lofts across the street, said the EV charger itself isn't the news -- it's the "change of lifestyle" it indicates.

"We want to make sustainability look fun and sexy and available," he said.

Along with the new chargers, Bar-Zemer cited a new ride-share program and an incoming neighborhood market as key indicators of changing lifestyles for Downtowners.

Paul Scott, a DTLA Nissan salesman who specializes in the electric vehicle the Leaf, said that although many people still buy plug-in hybrids (that run on gas and electricity), he has many customers who don't want to be a part of the oil industry at all.

"There's a lot of people who never ever want to buy gasoline again," he said. "The desire, the need, for fast-charging has grown quite a bit."

Scott admitted that he had a vested interest in electric cars because that's how he makes a living, but insisted his commitment to the environmental cause was more than just financial.

"I want to sell these cars -- but I want to get the gas-burners off the road," he said.

At the press conference on Thursday, Councilman José Huizar said L.A.'s first "fast charger" signaled a "great day" for DTLA and the city as a whole.

“Today is about celebrating and embracing innovation, about shifting the paradigm in how we think about transportation and how we align our lifestyles with our beliefs in creating a cleaner, greener environment for ourselves, our children and our City,” he said.

This single speedy charger joins 10 standard chargers in a parking lot on Mateo Street, next to a large metal shed currently in the process of becoming re-purposed as Urban Radish -- an upscale grocery store.

Radish will include a grocery section, a deli counter, a curated selection of meats and freshly made juices. Owner Carolyn Paxton told Blogdowntown last month that a portion of the store will sell "highly perishable," locally sourced staples, such as produce and dairy products.

"It's a grocery store for people who live here, in basically a food desert," said Paxton, referring to the restaurants and cafes that surround the area but the absence of grocery stores.

For the next few weeks EV owners can charge their cars for free at the DTLA station, but must pay to park in the lot. Scott said that by the end of 2012 he expects to see at least a few more fast chargers throughout the city. Chicago has 29 of them, he added, and L.A. has thousands of more electric cars.

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