Dollar van app awarded $10M to electrify NYC fleet

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“For the fleet owner it’s essentially a cheaper vehicle to operate and maintain over time,” Sanni said in an interview with Crain’s. “This helps the industry align with the state’s goals and other corporations to better position the industry to be a service provider with a future of lower greenhouse gas emissions in mind.”

Commuter vans tend to cost $1 per ride and make up an affordable network of minibuses and vans that serve the outer boroughs. Taxi and Limousine Commission data shows that there are 282 vans authorized to operate within specific zones in the city, and there are thought to be hundreds more that operate illegally.

The vehicles are a crucial transit link for the estimated 120,000 riders who rely on them each day, but they’re typically gas-powered and belch air pollution. This is where Dollaride’s Clean Transit Access Program seeks to step in by leveraging financing and know-how to get commuter van drivers into electric fleets, and build out the necessary charging infrastructure to support them.

Over the next nine months, Dollaride plans to continue industry engagement as it works toward deploying at least 100 electric vehicles beginning with the Brooklyn neighborhoods of East Flatbush, Flatbush and Downtown Brooklyn. Dollaride plans to have its electric vehicles and charging stations operational in parts of Brooklyn and Queens by late 2023. Sanni described the state grant as “nothing short of catalytic” toward realizing Dollaride’s vision, and said the profile-raising award has already made it easier for the startup to acess additional private capital.

Dollaride’s Clean Transit Access Program will also work with local businesses and community-based organizations to help drivers cut down on gas, operations and maintenance costs, and create economic opportunities for local institutions, said Jon Moeller, the chief operating officer of BlocPower.

“The EV charging would ideally be at community centers and maybe churches, they might have a parking lot and they can site charging [stations] there, finance it through us and make some money off the infrastructure,” Moeller said. “So instead of the gas stations getting revenue, it’s the community centers.”

Dollaride said it aims to expand the program to neighborhoods throughout the boroughs in 2024 and 2025, with the long-term goal of scaling up to other cities in the state, such as Buffalo and Ithaca, and eventually out of state.

Other projects awarded grants through the state include $7 million to Revel for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Red Hook; $10 million to Volvo Technology of America, a subsidiary of Volvo Group North America, to reduce air pollution through electrification in Hunts Point; and $8 million for an initiative to electrify schools buses across the Bronx led by the New York City School Bus Umbrella Services.



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