Do we want cars, or do we need them?
In the U.S., where planners in many cities and towns laid out the design with cars in mind, owning a car has always been a necessity. (Public transportation was an afterthought). The average commute time in the U.S. is 27 minutes by car; without a car, that time goes up by quite a bit. In addition, cars give us the convenience to travel anywhere we want, at any time we want, for pleasure, business or emergencies. It supports the freedom to live and work anywhere within reach. Some people think of their cars as a reflection of how successful they are, the cars they drive give them a sense of self-worth. And there are also those who are genuinely passionate about cars and will get excited about new models and features.
That said, the car industry is going through a major revamp—a “green revolution.” Behind it is the awareness of environmental issues and the damage car emissions inflict on the planet. Currently, people choose electric cars because they want to (and because they benefit from various incentives from governments), but in a decade or so, this choice will become compulsory as a growing number of countries join the initiative to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.
The financial aid coupled with decreasing costs of electric vehicles and the substantial savings people managed to put aside during the first year of the pandemic pushed up sales of electric cars by an impressive 43 percent globally in 2020, according to EV Volumes. While the total number represents just 5 percent of total car sales, by 2025, UBS Bank forecasts that 20 percent of all new cars sold globally will be electric. According to their report, by 2040, owning an internal combustion engine car will become a true luxury.
Riding the wave
With demand rising, multifamily operators should consider preparing their properties and equipping them with charging docks. EV charging stations become sought-after amenities because those who drive electric vehicles will specifically look for housing that offers this option. And with their numbers rising…
Offering an EV charging station on-site will boost your image and show that your property has a genuine care for the environment and the people residing there. In addition, it is the equivalent of an extra point under the LEED certification program—specifically, you need to have electric vehicle charging in 2 percent of all parking.
Investment will vary depending on the charging level and the number of charging docks. The cost of a single-port electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) unit is $600 on average for Level 1, $7,200 for Level 2 and $50,000 for DC fast charging. Some chargers include two ports, which can charge two cars simultaneously.
The design phase—construction drawing and permit—costs roughly $1,500 to $5,000 per project. Permitting is within the $150 to $500 range.
Installation costs vary from site to site, because while the cost of the charging stations themselves is decreasing, the installation costs are highly variable, according to the Department of Energy, and there is no industry consensus about the direction of future installation costs. However, state and local incentives in many places encourage EVSE installation through funding and technical assistance. If the installation is done, it is an estimated $1,200 per port at new sites and about $3,500 per port at existing sites.
According to a 2015 U.S. DOE study, the cost of a single port charging station ranges from $300 to $1,500 for Level 1, $400 to $6,500 for Level 2, and $10,000 to $40,000 for DC fast charging. Installation costs had an estimated cost range of $0 to $3,000 for Level 1, $600 to $12,700 for Level 2, and $4,000 to $51,000 for DC fast charging.
Depending on your business model, you can install electric vehicle charging stations and offer them as part of the common-area amenities, or you can boost your revenue stream and have your residents pay for the electricity cost. If you decide to offer access for free, you will likely boost your brand’s image, which is a great marketing tool.
If you want to recover your investment, you can either include this cost in the rent payment of those signing up for it or create an app where you keep track of everyone’s usage and, once a month, send them a monthly service fee corresponding to their electricity cost.
You might also want to consider installing some dedicated charging stations—for example in some of the garages on site—as there are also residents who would rather pay a premium and have access to their own than wait for a public one to recharge their car for free.