While parking downtown, electric vehicle owners can charge their cars for free. The charging stations are typically located at the front of parking garages, and are reserved for electric vehicles only.
On a busy weekend, electric vehicle owners can enjoy reserved, easy access downtown parking with a free "fill up." Drivers of conventional vehicles receive no such benefit.
Pictured nearby is a Chevy Volt, a vehicle already infamous for costing taxpayers up to $3 billion in production and sales incentives, being charged at a downtown Ann Arbor parking garage. The owner really did get a free ride, because the photo was taken on a Sunday, when city parking fees are waived.
Heritage Newspapers reports that there are 18 electric vehicle charging stations in downtown Ann Arbor, and that the city's Downtown Development Authority is paying for the cost of the electricity.
No argument can be made that electric car owners are somehow in need of a subsidy. A 2012 survey of electric vehicle drivers found that the vast majority come from households earning more than $100,000 per year, and are predominantly, in the words of the study, "...very well-educated, upper-middle class, white men in their early 50’s..."
The primary cost of the Ann Arbor charging stations likely comes from installation (paid for by U.S. taxpayers), and the parking territory they occupy, instead of the electricity provided. According to data posted by the city, few people appear to be using the charging stations.
On Jan. 16, at 9:20 a.m., the city reported that 11 of its 18 charging stations were unoccupied. According to the city, 9,807 kilowatt hours so far have been provided to electric vehicle owners, enough to charge 1,225 electric vehicles. Since the charging stations were installed in June, this amounts to each charging station receiving an average of just a single car visit every other day.
Surely, Ann Arbor has better things to spend its money on than this. City resources would be better spent providing essential services to Ann Arbor residents, instead of funding pet projects that only the favored few can take advantage of.
Permission to reprint this blog post in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author (or authors) and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy are properly cited.
Permission to reprint any comments below is granted only for those comments written by Mackinac Center policy staff.
Get insightful commentary and the most reliable research on Michigan issues sent straight to your inbox.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and educational institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Through our research and education programs, we challenge government overreach and advocate for a free-market approach to public policy that frees people to realize their potential and dreams.
Please consider contributing to our work to advance a freer and more prosperous state.