What Is EV Charging, and What Should Brands Know?
EV charging — put simply, recharging electric vehicles — is a growing infrastructure service across the U.S. and beyond, but it comes with additional requirements that brands must be prepared to address.
By now, we’re all aware of what EV charging is and the benefits it provides. In a span of a decade, the number of EVs on the roads around the world grew from roughly 17,000 in 2010 to about 10 million at the end of 2020. This includes a 41% year-over-year increase over 2019 alone, despite the pandemic that caused a slowdown in car sales worldwide.
Government investment in EV charging also increased in 2020, with administrations around the world spending 25% more than they did in 2019 to support the transition from gas-powered vehicles to EVs. The number of EV vehicles in the U.S. also grew significantly in 2020 over 2019, up from 1.5 million to 1.8 million.
It’s clear EVs in their various forms — BEVs (standard battery-powered), HEVs (hybrid electric), and PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric), and in their different formats like passenger vehicles, buses, and light commercial vehicles — will only continue to increase dramatically over the next few years as governments look to accelerate the transition via incentives and policies.
While private and public charging stations have also increased dramatically over the past several years (up 154% from 2016 to 2020), greater infrastructure will be needed to support the rising number of EVs expected to be on the road by 2030 — an estimated 18.7 million.
Retail brands looking to implement EV charging solutions at their locations have a distinct opportunity to do so, with research indicating that 89% of consumers typically make a purchase while charging at a retail location. And with fast-charge stations growing in popularity, consumers can typically recharge as quickly as half an hour — enough time for a round of shopping or a bite to eat.
However, along with understanding what EV charging is comes a need to understand what comes with it. Brands cannot simply implement EV charging stations at their locations and call it a day. There are significant energy requirements to evaluate and additional brand touch points that must be implemented — all properly planned and executed at the program level to ensure an efficient, cost-effective rollout.
Key Things to Consider with EV Charging Implementation
Understand the Impact on Your Energy Consumption
A good deal of research has been conducted to develop extremely fast charging times for EVs, allowing consumers to reduce their dwell times significantly — in some cases to just 10 minutes. While this research is ongoing, EV manufacturers and charging station manufacturers have already implemented solutions — such as public direct current (DC) — that can accept and provide power levels of 250 kW up to 500 kW.
However, additional research has revealed that adding fast chargers can lead to dramatic increases in peak power demand and a nearly 90% increase in energy costs for facilities in cold weather climates. Retailers, groceries, and other organizations considering what EV charging is to their brand strategy must consider the energy impact and develop an appropriate plan to ensure they’re doing their part to control their impact on the local energy grid.
It will be important to work with local utilities to ensure proper planning for the implementation of EV charging stations, particularly if multiple ports are planned. Working with the right energy solutions company that understands how to go about partnering with utilities and planning for greater energy demands will help brands to control their costs as consumers increasingly adopt EVs and seek out public charging stations.
Power your knowledge: Learn the top five reasons for EV charger installation.
EV Chargers Require Additional Brand Touchpoints
As part of a multisite brand strategy, it’s important to give EV chargers the footprint and brand touches they deserve. Remember that even now, EV chargers are still a forward-thinking addition to any facility. Adding them presents an opportunity for your brand to showcase the investment, make them easy to access and use for consumers, and ultimately incorporate them into a larger brand picture. To achieve this, you’ll need to plan for additional physical brand assets that support them:
- New asphalt or concrete for parking lots or dedicated charging areas
- Reconfiguration of existing parking and vehicle areas to make room
- Implementation of new exterior and wayfinding signs for chargers
- Construction of canopies, dividers, or barriers for charging zones
- Addition of other branded elements based on the site design
- Addition of voice and data solutions for communication purposes
- Installation of renewable energy systems if not using grid power
Each of these brand touch points requires its own strategy to ensure an efficient rollout across all of your sites, whether that’s a few dozen or a few hundred. Learn more about what goes into planning a multisite program such as this.
A Programmatic Approach Ensures Efficiency and Long-Term Success
Depending on your organization, you may not have the expertise or capacity to undertake a program of this scale and complexity. Just a sampling of the work to be done includes:
- Researching the right chargers for your locations based on power availability
- Collaborating with multiple utilities to understand their rebate programs
- Conducting due diligence for signage and construction projects
- Creating a plan to tackle multiple locations at once or in a phased approach
- Identifying contractors and vendors in different regions based on discipline
- Managing documentation, quotes, invoices, material lists, and more
- Coordinating manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, and installation for assets
- Overseeing the construction at multiple sites throughout your footprint
- Reporting on progress while keeping track of your investment over time
And of course, this is all specific to the program — you still have a heavy workload to manage on the customer side as you communicate what you’re looking to do, what EV charging is to your customer base, and what the timeline for completion is. Rather than shoulder all of this work internally, consider working with a brand implementation company that understands what EV charging is and how to implement it throughout your footprint.
Meet the EV Charging Implementation Experts
Stratus has been working with retailers, grocers, and other organizations to assist them in bringing their EV charging strategy to life on-time, on-budget, and on-brand. Whether you already have an EV charging strategy in place and need a reliable partner to help you execute it, or you’re considering providing this service for your customers and employees, our team is ready to support your success.
Connect with our energy team today to learn more about our capabilities.