Accelerating The Way Forward And Creating Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
- JULY 09, 2021
Paul Vosper, Forbes Councils Member
When President Biden announced a historic $2.2 trillion American Jobs Plan earlier this year, the electric vehicle (EV) market found itself at the forefront of a massive $174 billion investment proposal that will undoubtedly boost an already fast-changing auto industry, create jobs in the EV charger market and make a much-needed investment in the electrical grid. Needing to revamp and modernize America’s infrastructure, the plan prioritizes the expansion and further development of charging stations nationwide with a goal of over 500,000 installed by the end of the decade.
Bold and forward-thinking, the initiative could very well signal a watershed moment for the reduction of gas emissions as well as position and accelerate the rate of EV growth for years to come. In alignment with the burgeoning industry’s current goals, the plan is to “replace over 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrify at least 20 percent of the school bus fleet, whilst utilizing the vast tools of federal procurement to electrify the federal fleet, including the United States Postal Service.”
This investment alone will have significant knock-on effects, increasing production levels and employment across the sector and further bring down battery prices (the single biggest cost item in any EV) and further bend the EV adoption curve. Anticipating that, it will also galvanize private sector investment, reducing the adoption risk premium for infrastructure investors. As the details of the American Jobs Plan are under discussion and negotiations, the auto industry is well underway producing and planning for a successful transition to electric and autonomous vehicles.
The Case For Charging Stations In Parking Lots
The electrification of America requires a paradigm shift in how we fuel our vehicles. Whether it be highway rest stops, hotels, hospitals, entertainment venues, warehouses, fleet depots, municipalities, multi-family homes or the workplace, access to an array of charging station infrastructure that meets the unique needs of the user is key. Due to the speed at which technology is evolving, future-proofing that investment is imperative. Selecting the right charging platform for your location is vital as it will dictate the scalability of that infrastructure.
For many locations, EV charging is already imperative — if you do not offer charging, you are losing tenants and customers. EV charging also provides an unassailable visual indicator of your green energy commitment.
Attract And Retain
Providing EV charging stations unequivocally helps draw consistent, prime customers, employees, or clients to your place of business. For property owners or managers, it presents a direct way of attracting and retaining tenants who already own, or are thinking of owning, an electric car. We are already seeing tenants, even without EVs, prefer multifamily facilities that offer charging.
With more affordable EVs hitting the market, the fastest-growing segment of EV owners is millennials. Their level of interest in all things environmental is very high; over 75% think that businesses are focused on furthering their own agendas and that business success should be measured by more than financial performance, perpetuating a sentiment that those businesses that emphasize social and environmental innovation will be able to build rapport with this segment. Amongst those very likely to purchase or lease an electric car, 53% are millennials.
Those EV drivers typically have higher than average incomes and educational levels — critical demographics for businesses to attract as employees, tenants and customers. The hotel sector is already keenly aware of this trend, and we are seeing an increasing number of apps and travel sites that specifically target hotels with EV charging.
Climate change is rapidly becoming a central issue. According to the New York Times, 66% of registered voters see clean energy as a priority. The same number supports the federal government’s spending on EV charging infrastructure. Having EV chargers in the parking lot indicates that your facilities are modern, forward-thinking, of higher quality and more attuned to the needs of its clients.
With fast-changing trends leaning toward EV adoption, having the appropriate infrastructure that accommodates the growing demand is vital in attracting and retaining tenants and customers. Green amenities are a requisite for attracting key demographics.
The right charging platform enables use restriction, charge for usage, more efficient use of the parking facility and energy management. Soon, it will also provide for the two-way flow of charging (vehicle-to-grid/vehicle-to-building), enabling buildings to level out peaks in electricity use, known as peak shaving, by drawing on the EV battery. While still several years out, there are several pilot programs underway, and it is becoming standard on fleet vehicles.
As transportation is the largest generator of greenhouse gas emissions, the transition to EVs and the upgrading of the grid are essential to combat climate change. According to the Yale School of the Environment, “The system will require substantial changes … [and] will rely on close public-private cooperation on everything from advances in battery design to ensuring that fast-charging stations one day become ubiquitous.” New estimates by the firm Wood Mackenzie suggest that the EV charging infrastructure market will grow from $11 billion in 2020 to $89 billion by 2030 — an almost nine-fold increase in 10 years.
How can companies support the fast-moving migration to EVs and clean energy? Getting ahead of the chicken and egg conundrum by leading with the widespread installation of chargers where EV drivers work, visit or shop. This will not only eliminate drivers’ range anxiety but will accelerate the tipping point from charging stations being a sought-out luxury to becoming a service that is table stakes for businesses to offer.
The American Jobs Plan should be applauded. It is the first real attempt to address the combined need to provide both a modern and hardened infrastructure and climate change. But it is only a down payment. Climate change must be seen as a national security emergency. If left unaddressed, the cost of the impact of climate change is enormous.