Why Businesses Should Invest in EV Charging Stations Now
EV CHARGING STATIONS
31 December 2019
As our recent guide to EV and EV Charger incentives shows, most European countries are now pushing forward with electrification in order to cut carbon emissions significantly by 2030. The UK announced a new £400 million fund for EV chargers just last month, Italy has introduced a comprehensive EV incentives program for the first time this year, and Germany has just ratified its updated 2030 Climate Plan, continuing current incentives well into 2025. Other countries are on the same pathway. This means that EVs - and their chargers - are coming and they’re here to stay.
So, get ready to say goodbye to petrol pumps and hello to sparkly new EV charging points at your local service station, as many Norwegians and Americans are already doing. Businesses that want to not just survive, but thrive, in this increasingly electric environment will have to keep up. With EV charger incentives now becoming the norm across much of Europe, businesses of all kinds must take advantage of the opportunity to develop their own charging infrastructure for employees and/or customers. Not only do government incentives normally have time limits but without such infrastructure, your business may increasingly struggle to compete with those who have already gone electric. Continue reading to discover other potential benefits of charging stations for your business:
5 Main Benefits of Charging Stations
1. Keep Your Customers and Employees Coming Back for More
Get The Green Light
Today’s consumers are more concerned with the ethical reputation of the companies they buy from than those of the past. A report by Forbes in 2017 found that a whopping 87% of consumers tend to have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues. 88% are also more likely to remain loyal to such a company than a less eco-conscious competitor. In other words, most people today are concerned about social and environmental issues and increasingly opt to buy from and work with companies that fit with their personal ethical values. This is especially the case for millennials and “generation Xers” and those who already own or who may in future own an electric vehicle - usually a more environmentally-minded demographic.
Whether you’re a supermarket offering charging facilities to your customers or a logistics company with an electric fleet and its own charging infrastructure, installing EV chargers on your premises shows your company is choosing to go green. EV charging can be part of a larger sustainability goal. This in turn allows certain businesses to gain industry-recognized sustainability qualifications, such as LEED certification. For real-estate companies aiming to gain country or continent-specific environmental accreditation, for example, installing EV chargers for their tenants may really help them to tick important boxes for such certification.
This will not only boost your brand image and reputation, increasing customer loyalty and bringing in new customers, especially as more and more people become EV owners. It will also help to attract and retain employees who, like consumers, are increasingly concerned by environmental and social issues. Installing EV chargers may also actively encourage environmentally-friendly behaviours among employees, clients or tenants who haven’t yet ‘gone green. Indeed, according to a survey conducted by the US Department of Energy, workers are 20 times more likely to buy an electric vehicle if their employers offer free charging at work. Besides all the business benefits then, going electric will also give you the sheer satisfaction of doing something good for the environment!
Make Your Business The Convenient Choice
Going greener by installing EV chargers will not only boost customer loyalty due to reputation. As more people own EVs, and the drive towards an electric future in 2030 really kicks in, EV chargers will become essential facilities. If freely accessible WiFi is now present in most public places in Europe, EV charging will also become near ubiquitous in the coming years. Customers will expect their favourite shops, restaurants and hotels to provide them - and if they don’t, they will switch providers. After all, why would you go grocery shopping and not charge your EV for free if you could?
When it comes to more remote businesses like service stations and hotels that require longer travel time, EV chargers will be even more essential. For customers who may have had to drive long distances, charging will be more than just convenient: they’ll need it to continue their journey. This is also true of commercial or residential real-estate. Companies renting office space will increasingly expect these businesses to offer EV chargers for their employees. Meanwhile tenants who are EV owners will, understandably, expect to be able to charge their car at their home too.
Future employees or service partners that use EVs will also increasingly begin to consider charging stations as granted, inevitably picking the employers or partners that offer them over those who don’t. A good pension package and friday night drinks with work friends are only some of the requirements that today’s employees expect; onsite charging will become the norm as more people commute to work using EVs or electric scooters. Indeed, research shows that employees increasingly appreciate charging stations at their workplace. In the US alone, 74% of Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) owners express a strong interest in workplace charging. The benefits of EV charging stations for your business are therefore not just limited to the customer side. They’ll also help your company internally by driving recruitment and higher employee retainment rates.
2. Put Your Business on the Map (Literally) and Boost Customer Traffic
Map of hotels with EV charging stations in London on Zapmap
Installing EV chargers will grow your brand’s visibility and draw in new clients. New applications such as Zapmap and Open Charge Map enable EV drivers to plan routes, locate sites with electric charging points, add their own charging locations, and create discussions. Users can add information about the site and give reviews based on their experience. This kind of application opens up a business’ potential customer base; many visitors may be local, others may be passersby, but both will help to build brand visibility by word-of-mouth. If you manage to get a good review - aided perhaps by special deals in store for EV owners who charge at your site - you will be able to consolidate brand loyalty and encourage first-time chargers to return in future.
You might be thinking: ‘but how do EVs relate to my business? I don’t know if any of my customers even own EVs!’ Whether you’re a local café or a nationwide hotel chain, it’s still worth trying to encourage EV owners to form part of your customer base. Research shows that EV owners tend to be higher-earning than the average population. They’re predominantly men with higher levels of education, in full time employment and around the ages of 30–45. Looking towards the future, such research also shows that electric vehicles may soon become popular among higher income females and retirees/pensioners. Providing charging facilities may, therefore, give you a competitive advantage in terms of opening up new audiences or growing existing ones over the years.
Currently, EV owners also appear to have high levels of disposable income, making them potentially bigger-spenders when they visit your business. As EVs become more affordable across the board, with advanced battery technology becoming cheaper and government incentives and regulations ramping up, they are likely to become the norm for everyone, regardless of socio-economic background. Investing in infrastructure that accommodates EVs, then, will likely make your business more market-resilient and give it broader appeal in future.
3. Make Savings and Boost Your Energy Resilience
Going electric means serious savings for your business. Company fleets that are partially or fully electrified will enable you to access government subsidy funds and leverage tax benefits such as avoiding company car tax. Not only that, but they’ll also allow you to make ongoing savings, such as eliminating tolls on motorways. When local incentives, like subsidies for charging infrastructure via schemes like the UK’s Workplace Charging Scheme, are combined with the comparatively low cost of electricity versus petrol, taking the EV route is a no-brainer for your budget. If installing a charger is virtually free, depending on where your business is based, and charging and maintaining EVs is always cheaper than petrol options, why on earth would any business not electrify their fleet?
Reducing your carbon footprint also has the advantage of lowering your carbon emissions tax. The EU ETS, regulating the carbon emissions tax across the continent, applies to a variety of businesses, from power generators to large industrial premises and manufacturers, including food processing plants, to certain public sector facilities, to hospitals. If your business is taxed under these regulations, reducing your carbon footprint should be high on your priorities if you want to keep your revenues high.
Another often overlooked saving point is the energy resilience that having an electric fleet can offer in emergency scenarios. Investing in chargers that are bi-directional, in other words that are ‘two-way’ and can convert and direct energy both into the car and out of it back to its source, means that EVs plugged into your charging infrastructure can act as a source of energy (via their battery storage) during power-outs or shortages. Renewable energies are not necessarily, as is often believed, more unreliable than fossil fuels - in fact, in some cases, they have been shown to actually strengthen grid resilience. Even so, you can never rule out possible shortages. Indeed, the number one threat to grid resilience when it comes to renewables is probably erratic weather patterns and natural hazards, as renewable sources of energy are often physically climate-vulnerable. With climate change making global weather patterns more erratic, natural weather hazards may occur more often, potentially becoming a bigger issue in terms of grid resilience. EVs may, therefore, provide an important emergency energy source in times of need, saving your business thousands of euros in potential lost business that could occur due to energy failures.
4. Increase Your Revenues
Additionally, EV chargers will allow you to increase revenue. Firstly, customers with EVs are more likely to stay at your site for more time in order to charge, thus encouraging them to purchase more products or services. Depending on the charger type - fast, rapid or slow - EVs take an average time of 30 minutes to 12 hours to charge. By opting for a fast charging system with an average charging time of, say, an hour, you can offer customers a quick-enough charging service while also encouraging them to stay a little longer and purchase that item they’ve been eyeing up for weeks.
Secondly, EV charging points can be a source of extra revenue in themselves. Depending on the business model you go for, you may want to generate additional income by selling electricity to EV owners. This may be a blanket (everyone pays) or stratified (only the public rather than customers pay) strategy. But either way, it will bring in new funds, even if only used as a way to attract customers via free charging in order to boost sales of your actual products and services. Businesses with chargers can also generate revenue via targeted advertising; EV owners who agree to receive emails, for instance, can be sent new information about promotions and opportunities to encourage them to come back in the future. Advertising space can also be sold to external organizations for a fee.
5. Gain Data Insightsomer Traffic
Installing your own charging stations on site will give you access to a high volume of useful data, for example C02 savings, kWh-usage, energy costs and charging point activity. Such data can be used to inform internal reports, tax declarations and logistics and marketing plans to boost accuracy and make implementation processes more effective. Having your own chargers also means that such data does not need to be bought from a third party or filtered by one, meaning that your employees, business owners and fleet managers can have direct access to data insights. They can, therefore, use it in the most agile and flexible ways to gain insights into various aspects of your business.
Conclusion: Future-Proof Now Before It’s Too Late
As demonstrated by our EV incentives guide in Europe, most European countries are aiming for near-total electrification by 2030. The fossil fuel to electric vehicle transition is already happening. However, when combined with increasing incentives and the breakthrough in battery technology development that’s just around the corner, this shift is set to be in full swing by 2025-30. Indeed, given that there were around 3 million EVs in the world in 2018, it’s estimated that that number will rise to 125 million by 2030. EVs are where it’s at: if your business wants to capitalize on the many benefits noted in this article and stay competitive, you should enter the arena and get investing in EV charging infrastructure sooner, rather than later.
To find out what kind of charger would work best for your business, visit our website here.
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