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Thread: Electric power?

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    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Electric power?

    Do you use it on your bike, or would you like to? Do you think cheap, powerful and dependable electric options would encourage more people to go car-free or car-light? What is your opinion of the current offerings? Has it come along as far and fast as you assumed, or hoped? What do you wish you could get, and what would it be worth to you (and to those you might wish to turn to the Dark Side; or is that from the Dark Side?).

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    It seems to me that the options out there are not nearly where they could be. The manufacturers did not respond to the high gas prices when they had a window, and now people have gone back to the status quo, meaning driving pretty much everywhere. We need more dependable motors and parts (maybe Japanese instead of Chinese), and stronger and cheaper batteries. We won't get them unless there is a demand for the volume that drives lower prices, and that demand does not seem to be there.

    My ideal offering would be an extra sturdy steel framed touring bike, with an over-powered motor and enough battery punch for at least a 50 mile range. It should be able to carry a lot of freight, and it should have plug n play options to add more batteries for more range. An on-board charger would be a nice plus, where you could pull out the retractable cord and plug in to any outlet. There should be regenerative, maintenance-free drum brakes, and an over-built 3 speed transmission. Set it to be able to climb walls in first gear, and go ahead and limit the revs to match 20 mph in 3rd gear. Then (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) people can swap out the sprocket and cruise 40 on the flats if they wish.

    Build the thing like a Checker cab so it goes forever. Make it a Yamaha (wishful thinking) and sell it for $3999 (more wishful thinking). Then again, you can buy a nice golf cart for five or six grand grand, so why not four for something much smaller?

    So, give up your own wishful thoughts on the subject, if you have any.
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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    Do you use it on your bike, or would you like to? Do you think cheap, powerful and dependable electric options would encourage more people to go car-free or car-light? What is your opinion of the current offerings? Has it come along as far and fast as you assumed, or hoped? What do you wish you could get, and what would it be worth to you (and to those you might wish to turn to the Dark Side; or is that from the Dark Side?).

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    It seems to me that the options out there are not nearly where they could be. The manufacturers did not respond to the high gas prices when they had a window, and now people have gone back to the status quo, meaning driving pretty much everywhere. We need more dependable motors and parts (maybe Japanese instead of Chinese), and stronger and cheaper batteries. We won't get them unless there is a demand for the volume that drives lower prices, and that demand does not seem to be there.

    My ideal offering would be an extra sturdy steel framed touring bike, with an over-powered motor and enough battery punch for at least a 50 mile range. It should be able to carry a lot of freight, and it should have plug n play options to add more batteries for more range. An on-board charger would be a nice plus, where you could pull out the retractable cord and plug in to any outlet. There should be regenerative, maintenance-free drum brakes, and an over-built 3 speed transmission. Set it to be able to climb walls in first gear, and go ahead and limit the revs to match 20 mph in 3rd gear. Then (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) people can swap out the sprocket and cruise 40 on the flats if they wish.

    Build the thing like a Checker cab so it goes forever. Make it a Yamaha (wishful thinking) and sell it for $3999 (more wishful thinking). Then again, you can buy a nice golf cart for five or six grand grand, so why not four for something much smaller?

    So, give up your own wishful thoughts on the subject, if you have any.
    Unless the electric vehicle could be sold at a small fraction of the price, it is hard to imagine the electric vehicles you describe as having any practical advantage over a currently available gasoline powered motor scooter or small displacement motorcycle except in the instance of a drastic gasoline shortage. The gasoline used by such vehicles is minimal and the cost of the fuel is insignificant. The short range, low power and low speed, insufficient power to run electric accessories like usable lighting, as well as the need for frequent charging makes electric bicycles pretty much inferior in every way and useful maybe for handicapped people using local bike trails.

  3. #3
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Unless the electric vehicle could be sold at a small fraction of the price, it is hard to imagine the electric vehicles you describe as having any practical advantage over a currently available gasoline powered motor scooter or small displacement motorcycle except in the instance of a drastic gasoline shortage. The gasoline used by such vehicles is minimal and the cost of the fuel is insignificant. The short range, low power and low speed, insufficient power to run electric accessories like usable lighting, as well as the need for frequent charging makes electric bicycles pretty much inferior in every way and useful maybe for handicapped people using local bike trails.
    You make some valid points, assuming you are willing to accept things the way they are with no regard to what, perhaps, should be. If gasoline-powered vehicles were pay-as-you-go, instead of being mostly pre-paid, then the decision would not be such a no-brainer. In other words, if gas and roads were not so heavily subsidized, we might pay Euro prices for gas, and the electric option would have more appeal. I know we live in the reality of artificially cheap gas, but the real reality is that we pay a high price to drive, one way or another.

    The other consideration is that gas power brings with it somewhat onerous licensing and insurance requirements for most people which are not stuck to the cyclist, or the electro-cyclist. So, it might not be a simple decision for everyone, even in the faux cheap gas reality.

    Finally, I would not propose an electric bike as a replacement for a car, for many people. Rather, it is an easier way to go car-free, or car-light, if you are inclined. Lots of people could use an electric bike for short trips and still keep a car, too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    The other consideration is that gas power brings with it somewhat onerous licensing and insurance requirements for most people which are not stuck to the cyclist, or the electro-cyclist. So, it might not be a simple decision for everyone, even in the faux cheap gas reality.

    Finally, I would not propose an electric bike as a replacement for a car, for many people. Rather, it is an easier way to go car-free, or car-light, if you are inclined. Lots of people could use an electric bike for short trips and still keep a car, too.
    To a degree I like the idea. But you don't need the Japanese because the Chinese are way ahead of the game here. Remember they were at one time what many in here had wished the US would become, Bicycle nirvana. Then came the car and poof the Kingdom of the bike was gone. But I came accross this article some time ago that addressed some of the concerns some have expressed in this forum. A quote for the article. "Xinri's Zhang puts in thousands of miles on the road a year, visiting as many as six cities a day to investigate local market conditions. But ultimately what makes Xinri successful is that electric bikes have hit a sweet spot in the Chinese economy. As Chinese grow richer, they want more convenient means of transportation. But not everyone can afford a car. "Motorcycles are too dangerous, cars are too expensive, public transportation is too crowded and pedal bikes leave you too tired," says Hu Guang, Xinri's deputy general manager. "So people buy e-bikes."

    The site itself. On the Streets of China, Electric Bikes Are Swarming - TIME

    To me a good electric car would be nice as well. But they lack the range and dependability at this point. And before someone asks I believe in Nuclear Energy to produce the electricity for the batteries, as does China from looking at the number of Nuclear plants they are planning on building.

    And to be clear you can already get an E-bike here for the price of a high end bicycle.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    My ideal offering would be an extra sturdy steel framed touring bike, with an over-powered motor and enough battery punch for at least a 50 mile range. It should be able to carry a lot of freight,
    There's no need to invent the wheel.

    We already have an abundant selection of electric bikes available at 4K. The market is very small but I would avoid buidling one and just become a dealer because there are scores of high quality electric bikes. Come the think of it, there's an electric bike shop in New York City and do you know what they sell the most? Bromptons!

    The problem selling to the carfree is that most are dependant on public transit and they are not looking to change. The lightrail in my city is my 2 billion electric car that I use each day. The remaining carfree who are bicycle dependant are not looking to switch. I suspect a very small number of those who are carfree would even consider electric bikes.

    It sounds like you want to build an electric bike for people living in the suburbs. This is going to be an even smaller market because only a extreamly small number of people would consider a 50 mile a day commute even with an electric motor.

    You know who rides electric bikes? Asian food delivery men. Without questions, they are the biggest users of electric bikes in the nation. This is your market.
    Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 06-23-15 at 06:10 PM.

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    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    There is not enough charging stations to support an all electric transportation, it's not like we have power outlets and sockets all over the place with "free electricity". When you plug in to recharge at your home then your electricity bill will increase, but who will pay for your recharging at a public place ??...What about people who live in high rise buildings, how are they supposed to recharge their electric vehicles ??

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    There is not enough charging stations to support an all electric transportation, it's not like we have power outlets and sockets all over the place with "free electricity". When you plug in to recharge at your home then your electricity bill will increase, but who will pay for your recharging at a public place ??...What about people who live in high rise buildings, how are they supposed to recharge their electric vehicles ??
    It didn't take long for a service industry to pop up and supply gas to motorcars, and it wouldn't take long to do the same for electric vehicles. Electricity is already pretty much everywhere, so all that is required is some kind of standardized metered hookup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    What about people who live in high rise buildings, how are they supposed to recharge their electric vehicles ??
    +1

    An electric bike costing 3-4K that can get 50 miles is going to be quite heavy! There is no way people are going to carry a 70lb bike up a 4 story walkup! You need a house with a garage for a high quality e-bike.

    Funny, not long ago, someone made an electric wheel that had the battery built in. It was light enough to carry up stairs according to the video..

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    Battery technology has been the main limiting factor so far and progress there is unpredictable since it depends on development of some different chemistry or other technology. NiMH cells were a big improvement over lead-acid and NiCd, and more recently the various Li-based chemistries have been a big improvement over NiMH. But we haven't had another break through like that for some time now. The motivation for more battery R&D is from the electric car and other major industries and the electric bike makers don't really play a part there - they'll just be ready to take the new battery types once they're on the market and use them to increase the available range and power. Hopefully at a more affordable price point as economies of scale from electric car production bring prices down.

  10. #10
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    There's no need to invent the wheel.

    We already have an abundant selection of electric bikes available at 4K.
    You know, it has been a while since I looked, and there are a LOT of new options that came up in the last year or so. They still don't build what I would call the ideal bike, but there are a lot of choices in the $4,000 range. I don't know why they all have to be so ugly, but they are out there.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    It sounds like you want to build an electric bike for people living in the suburbs. This is going to be an even smaller market because only a extreamly small number of people would consider a 50 mile a day commute even with an electric motor.
    Yes, I live in the suburbs. My county is one big suburb without a real town. I'm looking for something that is more like a cross between a motorcycle and a bicycle. 70 pounds? Why not 150? I want rugged durability and big range, and the ability to carry a lot of cargo. (Who lives in a 4 story building without an elevator?)

    These guys have a lot of options, but when it comes to electric cargo bikes, they say 'coming soon':

    Seattle Electric Cargo Bike | Seattle Electric Bike
    pedego_stretch-19.jpgxtracycle_10e_small_freight.jpg
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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    You know, it has been a while since I looked, and there are a LOT of new options that came up in the last year or so. They still don't build what I would call the ideal bike, but there are a lot of choices in the $4,000 range. I don't know why they all have to be so ugly, but they are out there.

    Yes, I live in the suburbs. My county is one big suburb without a real town. I'm looking for something that is more like a cross between a motorcycle and a bicycle. 70 pounds? Why not 150? I want rugged durability and big range, and the ability to carry a lot of cargo. (Who lives in a 4 story building without an elevator?)

    These guys have a lot of options, but when it comes to electric cargo bikes, they say 'coming soon':

    Seattle Electric Cargo Bike | Seattle Electric Bike
    They will be here soon, provided a market exists or can be created. I agree with you that the demand will be in suburban areas more than densely populated big cities. (Keep in mind that many American cities are so sprawled out that they are accurately classified as suburban rather than urban.) Of course, some people will use the e-bikes to commute between the city and the suburbs. But they will not be as useful in areas like Manhattan, where walking and good transit already dominate. But most Americans live in scattered medium size cities/suburbs with low densities and common travel distances of 10 or 20 miles--prime for e-bikes as well as regular bikes.


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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    My ideal offering would be an extra sturdy steel framed touring bike, with an over-powered motor and enough battery punch for at least a 50 mile range. It should be able to carry a lot of freight, and it should have plug n play options to add more batteries for more range. An on-board charger would be a nice plus, where you could pull out the retractable cord and plug in to any outlet. There should be regenerative, maintenance-free drum brakes, and an over-built 3 speed transmission. Set it to be able to climb walls in first gear, and go ahead and limit the revs to match 20 mph in 3rd gear. Then (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) people can swap out the sprocket and cruise 40 on the flats if they wish.

    Build the thing like a Checker cab so it goes forever. Make it a Yamaha (wishful thinking) and sell it for $3999 (more wishful thinking). Then again, you can buy a nice golf cart for five or six grand grand, so why not four for something much smaller?

    So, give up your own wishful thoughts on the subject, if you have any.
    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    You make some valid points, assuming you are willing to accept things the way they are with no regard to what, perhaps, should be. If gasoline-powered vehicles were pay-as-you-go, instead of being mostly pre-paid, then the decision would not be such a no-brainer. In other words, if gas and roads were not so heavily subsidized, we might pay Euro prices for gas, and the electric option would have more appeal. I know we live in the reality of artificially cheap gas, but the real reality is that we pay a high price to drive, one way or another.

    The other consideration is that gas power brings with it somewhat onerous licensing and insurance requirements for most people which are not stuck to the cyclist, or the electro-cyclist. So, it might not be a simple decision for everyone, even in the faux cheap gas reality.

    Finally, I would not propose an electric bike as a replacement for a car, for many people. Rather, it is an easier way to go car-free, or car-light, if you are inclined. Lots of people could use an electric bike for short trips and still keep a car, too.
    Do you expect people to ride/drive your ideal vehicle, at 40 mph, on the same roads that are used by other motorized vehicles? And still not require any licensing and without any insurance requirements? You can wish for anything but it still seems that all your requirements would be met by currently available motorcycles and motor scooters.

    Do you really think anyone will trade in a motor vehicle for a $4000 electric bicycle, with its limitations, for all weather use to carry cargo?

    BTW does anybody in your suburban environment get about exclusively by motorcycle, bicycle or some other exposed to the weather vehicle? How many do you think would swap that vehicle for a $4000 electric bicycle with all of its limitations.

    What reason does anyone have for trading in a bicycle for a $4000 electric model just for short trips? If the physical effort is too much, why not a motor scooter or motorcycle that costs less and is without the limitations?
    Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 06-24-15 at 08:42 AM.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    E-bikes are so 2014! How about the Hoverbike--now being developed by the US Defense Department.
    http://www.theguardian.com/technolog...tary-star-wars


    article-0-14A3A3EE000005DC-320_634x434.jpg
    Last edited by Roody; 06-24-15 at 09:04 AM.


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    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    BTW does anybody in your suburban environment get about exclusively by motorcycle, bicycle or some other exposed to the weather vehicle?

    Yeah, me!
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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    Yeah, me!
    Well that settles that. When do you expect an ebike dealership to open up in your locale to satiate the pent up demand?

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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    These guys have a lot of options, but when it comes to electric cargo bikes, they say 'coming soon':
    Yuba has had the ElMundo out for a couple years, if I'm not mistaken. And they just released a mid-drive electric called the Spicy Curry. If I ever move more than 15 miles out from the city center (unlikely), I may think about replacing my Mundo with the Spicy Curry or at least strapping an electric assist onto it. But, yeah, you're not taking that thing up into a high rise. It's probably ~7' long like the Mundo and would weigh around 75 pounds with useful stuff on it (bags, locks, extended rack, etc.).

    Electric Cargo Bike mid-drive motor | Yuba Cargo Bikes
    Last edited by bovine; 06-24-15 at 01:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Unless the electric vehicle could be sold at a small fraction of the price, it is hard to imagine the electric vehicles you describe as having any practical advantage over a currently available gasoline powered motor scooter or small displacement motorcycle except in the instance of a drastic gasoline shortage.
    You mean other than being able to pedal them sans power, fully charge them for ~ 5-10 cents, use bike lanes / ride them on the sidewalk and MUPs, strap two to three kids to them, or readily load them with hundreds of pounds of cargo?

    You're correct, other than those aspects, there's no advantage to them over a Vespa or Honda Rebel.

    He's basically describing a Yuba Spicy Curry (or maybe an e-assist Boda Boda since he didn't specifically mention a long-tail). Those are the things that these bikes can do and for about the price point he mentioned.

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    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bovine View Post
    Yuba has had the ElMundo out for a couple years, if I'm not mistaken. And they just released a mid-drive electric called the Spicy Curry. If I ever move more than 15 miles out from the city center (unlikely), I may think about replacing my Mundo with the Spicy Curry or at least strapping an electric assist onto it. But, yeah, you're not taking that thing up into a high rise. It's probably ~7' long like the Mundo and would weigh around 75 pounds with useful stuff on it (bags, locks, extended rack, etc.).

    Electric Cargo Bike mid-drive motor | Yuba Cargo Bikes
    I have a bad impression of Currie as the power source. I am guessing you don't agree. Don't they make the El Cheapo motors? (Maybe they make a wide range; I don't know)
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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    (Who lives in a 4 story building without an elevator?)
    I don't think any landlord and building management would approve of somebody trying to stuff a golf cart or some oversized E-Bike inside an elevator..

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    I don't think any landlord and building management would approve of somebody trying to stuff a golf cart or some oversized E-Bike inside an elevator..
    I don't see why having an electric bike would be any different or more problematic than owning a motorcycle and living in an apartment. Presumably there is (or one can arrange for) secure motorbike and e-bike parking at any apartment - either in the garage, on an outdoor pad, at the bicycle rack, in the storage locker, or maybe even a portable bike locker.
    Last edited by cooker; 06-24-15 at 04:38 PM.

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    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker View Post
    I don't see why having an electric bike would be any different or more problematic than owning a motorcycle and living in an apartment. Presumably there is (or one can arrange for) secure motorbike and e-bike parking at any apartment - either in the garage, on an outdoor pad, at the bicycle rack, in the storage locker, or maybe even a portable bike locker.
    That's the problem with E-Bikes, you would still need to pay for parking just like for a car or a motorcycle ...Underground parking would be a safest and the only option, but where do you plug it in to recharge it for free without having to pay for it ??...A bicycle is a much better option because you don't need to pay for a parking spot, you can just bring it inside your apartment.

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker View Post
    I don't see why having an electric bike would be any different or more problematic than owning a motorcycle and living in an apartment.
    The problem is that the electric bike needs to be charged, from a power outlet controlled, owned or paid for by the electric bike owner, presumably at his/her residence. It can NOT be safely charged on the street from an upstairs apartment. Motorcycle owners do not have that problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bovine View Post
    You mean other than being able to pedal them sans power, fully charge them for ~ 5-10 cents, use bike lanes / ride them on the sidewalk and MUPs, strap two to three kids to them, or readily load them with hundreds of pounds of cargo?
    And this same motorized vehicle is going to go 40 mph in traffic or be ridden on streets at 40 mph with all that cargo and still not require a license and insurance; and still be legal for sidewalk and MUP use?

    Or do MUPs crisscross your locale so extensively that cargo can be hauled on them door to door by MUP legal vehicles? Are such beasts laden with children and hundreds of pounds of cargo legally ridden on the sidewalks in your area? Got any pictures?

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    Time for a reality check. Some of you folks seem to think that an e-bike is roughly the size of a brontosaurus. The ones I've seen are only a bit heavier than a regular bike, but really no larger. Most are diamond frame bikes and would easily fit on a passenger elevator or could be carried up the stairs with a slightly higher level of difficulty as the same bike without the electric motor and battery.
    Last edited by Roody; 06-25-15 at 07:29 AM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    The problem is that the electric bike needs to be charged, from a power outlet controlled, owned or paid for by the electric bike owner, presumably at his/her residence. It can NOT be safely charged on the street from an upstairs apartment. Motorcycle owners do not have that problem.
    Lots of staff parking lots at businesses and institutions in Canada and maybe in North Dakota etc, have ordinary three prong outlets at each spot that staff can use for their car block heaters in winter. It's really not a big deal. People are way overthinking this "problem". Your landlord will provide a power outlet and add a small surcharge to your monthly parking fees, or there will soon be cheap mini-meters that track individual consumption and automatically bill you.

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