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Electric Avenue

A Parking Lot That Charges Based On Vehicle Efficiency

Are you driving an SUV? At one Boston lot, it’s going to cost you a lot extra to park.

Plenty of parking lots and garages charge based on the time of day that you arrive. One gas station-turned-parking lot in Boston is taking a different tactic: charging customers based on what kind of vehicle they drive.

The planned "Green Park & Charge" lot in downtown Boston is a glimpse of the parking lot of the future (yes, parking lots are evolving)—there will be charging stations for electric vehicles, real-time parking availability sensors from Streetline, and varying rates depending on what kind of car you drive.

Drivers that roll into the lot with hybrids or electric vehicles get a 10% discount on the $10-per-hour rate, while people who drive vehicles that get under 15 miles per gallon will pay 10% more. It’s unclear how the lot will gauge vehicle efficiency (besides estimating based on vehicle size).

The plan is, of course, upsetting local SUV-driving residents. But Scott Oran of Dinosaur Capital Partners (the company behind the lot) rationalized the move to the Boston Herald: "A big SUV has a cost both in terms of the environment and in terms of being a heavier vehicle that causes more wear and tear on our lot," he said. "We think that should be reflected in our price."

A convenient excuse to sway people toward more efficient vehicles? Quite possibly. But it’s not like this is the first time drivers have been subtly nudged towards buying efficient vehicles—electric cars can travel in California’s carpool lanes even with only one passenger, for example.

In any case, the Boston lot is small, with just four standard spots and eight parking spots containing EV charge stations. Irate SUV drivers can simply look for another lot.