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March 1, 2022

EV Charging Solutions in Multifamily Community – Chris Vargas

Chris Vargas, Chargie Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing features on “Apartments on the Go” podcast to discuss the importance of EV charging stations in multifamily communities. He sheds light on the installation process, affordability with rebates and incentives, and the urgency for electric vehicle chargers. With demand growing every day, multifamily property owners should take advantage of the opportunities to build EV charging infrastructure through Chargie.

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Intro 0:01
Join be apartments on the go Podcast with your hosts, Courtney Smith and Matt Ruedlinger. We’ve got expert advice from the industry’s biggest stars with insights to trends, best practices, and manageable actions you can use for your careers today. This is the apartments on the go podcast.

Matt 0:25
Welcome to another episode of Apartments on the Go. And, Courtney, are you unmuted?

Courtney 0:32
I am. I feel like I need to come up with like a fun fact of the day every time we do this so that I have like something interesting to

Matt 0:38
tell, you know, well, I know something interesting. We’re coming from the AME studio and it’s right around the corner.

Courtney 0:45
Oh, that’s true. It’ll be April before we know it.

Matt 0:48
I know time is flying. And yeah, it’s just doesn’t get any slower for sure. So I am, we’re gonna jump right into it. We have an amazing guest. And I’m really excited about this topic because it’s probably about as top of mind and the trend is there ever, ever, ever has been. But let’s introduce our guests. today. Our guest is Chris Vargas. He is a Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at chargie and is responsible for bringing smart, reliable turnkey, EV changing solutions to property owners and managers. Prior to joining Chargie, Chris served as a Director of Business Development at Bongo wireless and I don’t know if I said that right. But Wes, all right,

Chris 1:37
Boingo wireless. It’s okay.

Matt 1:38
All right, which is a leading provider of connectivity solutions for multifamily communities. His career has also included leadership position positions at global enterprise resource group, CU Solutions Group rent.com. And in which is an eBay company, Verizon, enhanced communities, huge communities, and was one of the first five employees at DirecTV. That’s interesting. Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris 2:06
It’s great to be here, Matt and Courtney, I really appreciate the opportunity to speak a little bit about this EV evolution going on.

Matt 2:15
Yeah, and I’m gonna tee this up for you, I think really well, like you just run with it. But I we you know, we know that the demand of electric vehicles is not only in the rise, but it’s here. I mean, if you watch, you know, if you’d like watching the Superbowl commercials, what were some of the main things they talked about? And then earlier this month, Mashable released a list of 10 automakers that are promising to make electric cars only in the next coming years with the earliest transition slated for suit soon as 2025. So, lots of lots of things going on. I’d like to let you just kind of jump in here. Give us an overview of what all this means for multifamily.

Chris 3:04
Yeah, it means a lot for multifamily right now because you’re changing from an amenity to a utility in terms of EV charging is concerned and, 80% of all vehicles are charged at home. And which, by the way, is one of those little things, it’s really not measured, when we talk about how it is, cheaper to drive an EV car, there’s less maintenance involved, an internal combustion engine has 2500 moving parts, and EV car has 12 in their moving parts of their drive train. So, to give you an idea, when Bezos got all those 100,000 rivian vehicles for, for Amazon it wasn’t a green as much as it was financial, you know, because they go further and less maintenance. So those are some of the things of course, they’re driving, the adoption, but for multifamily, that whole 80% of the folks that, are going to charge for vehicles, vehicles at home. Now, that’s really important, right. And now, that’s also, you know, makes it a little more complicated in terms of the infrastructure and in how you build this out for each one of the multifamily communities that are out there. The interesting thing about us is we come from that community, that’s part of our DNA, our principal owner, still owns up to this point about 2000 units has developed over 5000 units and sold those off over time and still has developments in Utah in Arizona, California and Mexico. So that’s part of our real DNA, in terms of how we serve it, how we serve multifamily. And we just don’t want to layer on one more thing for people to think about on site, that’s not there, that’s not what they’re there for. They want to make sure they’re keep the residents happy and attend to those that business on site versus having to think about one more thing one more plot. form, one more thing to manage. And then the last thing I’ll say about it is, there’s nothing cool about, charging your car, it’s like, when’s the last time you thought it was cool to put gas in your car, it’s kind of a nuisance, right? It’s really a nuisance, and no one’s really measured that part of it, it’s like, oh, I got to stop and get gas, make how convenient that is, if you never have to stop at a gas station, again, if you’re charging at home, right? If that, if that trip doesn’t have to be included in your daily set of errands that you have to run, I’ll miss the Gatorade and those corndogs that have been in those quick serve a gas station, so I’ll miss those. But other than that, the nuisances is a bit there. But the thing that multifamily really has to think about is the infrastructure, right, and how that’s being built out. And then what’s gonna be required over time, in terms of reporting, those things about electricity, the time of use, all the things that impact, the grid is like, how, how do I manage that? And what kind of system or infrastructure do I put in? That will help me manage it into the future? And those are important things to consider?

Courtney 6:15
Yeah, you really seg-wayed right into my question. I’m sure everyone is like, but you know, how am I going to do this apartment?

Chris 6:22
Yes, that’s great. So, for us, we’ve built out over 790 buildings and 14,000 chargers 90% of that is multifamily? Because again, going back that’s our DNA. And we know we know how to serve it. And so, everyone’s a little bit different, right? So, is it outdoor parking, or is it indoor parking, and the difference is there it can be significant in terms of costs, because if you’re going outdoor, then all of a sudden, you have to trench, right, and you have to put in pedestals, you’re going distance away from you know, the panel or the electrical room? And anytime you have to more wire more trenching, more costs, indoors a little bit better, you know, in terms of being able to install up against a wall, more efficient runs of conduit, across the ceiling, and down into your charger, a little more efficient. But each of those have their own challenges in terms of connectivity, right, these are connected devices, right, that allows for the reporting and the management and the payment processing for these chargers. So, you have to have connectivity inside the garage. And then of course outside to and that’s another piece that’s really folks really should really understand is how that part is being managed. I come from a telecom background. And that’s really important to us, that’s a differentiator for us. Others do it too, I don’t want to act like we’re the only ones. But managing that connectivity and having a very good signal to your chargers, to make them more reliable. There was an interesting survey done just recently, and 10,000, chargers 20% Were down. And 80% of those were because of connectivity. So that’s critical, right? That’s really critical. So, if you’re, if your provider out there, if you’re thinking about this for your property, that’s the question to ask, you know, how reliable is that network? How are you putting that network together just as much as a managed Wi Fi network, right? And in, in properties? This is just as important to in terms of connectivity?

Courtney 8:28
Oh, yeah, you’ve made me think about like, when I go to a hotel, or I end up in a spot of a hotel when I’m traveling, and I can’t get any service. And it’s really frustrating. And if this is your car, and you got to go somewhere, it’s a big deal.

Chris 8:40
Yeah, it’s true. It’s true. You don’t want to come down and go, Wait, my car is not charged and ready to go. That’s not that won’t work, right, that absolutely won’t work. So, you have to think of it in terms of the highly reliable both from the charger and the network side. And again, the charger is just you know, for folks who don’t drive EVs and things like that. So, here’s the charger is really the actual charge is really kind of just a souped-up outlet, if you will, right. It’s a simple device, and can you know, last a really long time. That’s the good news, right? How when’s the last time replacing an outlet? Right in your home or anywhere? So, you can last a really long time. That’s really the good news is the ongoing support and connectivity and the maintenance you know that really makes a difference.

Matt 9:29
What do you see is like the timeline of how this is going to infiltrate across the US because I know you’re you know I think I’m sure listeners are thinking right now? Yeah, this you know, they we see it and you know, most some of these guidelines start on the West Coast and they start to infiltrate east. What are we looking at what do you know, even through the legislation or you know, just overall, the speed at this is going to hit us? Because I’m sure if we wait to the last minute it’s gonna be harder to get things done. Right. So yeah, just to kind of give us an overview. Overpass in the future where we’re going.

Chris 10:07
Yeah, there’s, there’s a lot there. Because there’s a lot of macro, you know, dynamics that impact this, you know, of course supply chain. I tell everybody, if this supply chain wasn’t an issue, we’d have so many cars right now, we wouldn’t know what to do, we’d be so far behind on infrastructure. I don’t know what it would be like to be quite honest. It’s so it’s a little bit, you know, have a opportunity right now to move quickly. Right and to, to build out this infrastructure. So that’s, that’s one piece in the adoption. Of course, like, last year, the sales doubled of EVs. And it is, so we think of it about is the democratization of electric electrification. That’s an alliteration right there. Right? So, in because it’s for everyone, you know, we recently gave away a car to move for hunger, it’s a great cause move for hunger, it’s a great cause, you know, and don’t if you don’t know about it, just go ahead and look it up. It’s, it’s really a good cause it serves, you know, the multifamily communities. So, we gave a car to them because so hard to give a car away, we gave it to move for hunger. And what we did was a raffle at FBI properties. And it was a $13,000 leaf, right? That was still available $4,000 rebate in California. So, you’re talking about a very economical car and everybody actually, they brought some food in that would be given away to a food bank for a for the raffle. And they got, they got a raffle ticket for every, you know, canned food, you know, nonperishable food they brought in and it was raffled off, it was just show people that you really can have a really nice, reliable car, that’s not a $70,000 Tesla. So, so that piece of it is really important to in terms of, hey, this is accessible to folks, right. So, it is coming faster than we think because the accessibility of the cars and that they’re, they’re more affordable for everyone. So, I think that’s really important. The other piece of it is that’s really important, too, is the incentives, both from utilities and the feds, and grants. They’re here now, and they’re not going to be here forever. A lot of people remember the ADA the American Disabilities Act, where incentives were to pay for all the rails and ramps and got paid for all that. Well, that’s gone now. Now all the multifamily, you know, communities they have to pay for them themselves. Well, that’s kind of what’s happening right now we have these incentives. And they really go fast. You know, Southern California Edison has $430 million, that they’re putting behind electric vehicle infrastructure with a goal of 15,000 Evie chargers in their utility territory for multifamily. We’re just one company, we could probably do that ourselves. So, there’s a lot of volume, right, and a lot of demand that’s pent up, and we’ll take these incentives pretty quickly. So, there is there is a bit of urgency, you know, for the multifamily owners to understand what the incentives are in their area, what the grants are available in their area. understand those and the deadlines because you could miss out.

Courtney 13:31
Yeah, you when you talk about this. I know obviously California is usually in our industry are the first to adopt something that, you know, ends up trickling its way toward the Midwest. Have you seen a big trend in kind of moving, you know, eastward? Or where are you seeing kind of some of the biggest adoption, I guess?

Chris 13:50
Yeah, the biggest adoption, of course, California has about 50% of all electric vehicles, you know, 25%, more than 25%, Southern California. And then you have Florida and coming in second, Texas and Washington and Arizona probably make up about 60% of all electric vehicle adoption right now. That’s where it is right now. And then the incentives, kind of follow that, the most incentives that are available right now, of course in California. There’s some great ones in Arizona as well, too. And then we’re seeing probably more will come, with the feds. There’s also grants like the VW mitigation trust, right, the diesel gate, if you will, they had to put a bunch of money in behind that to, to support the EV infrastructure. So, applying for those grants is really important. We recently were awarded a million dollars of grants just under $1,000,000, $980,000 I think it was for 10 properties to build out infrastructure for 10 multifamily property. So, we’re in the middle of working through that right now. So that’s where the adoption is right now, and it’s continuing to grow, of course, but you’re right, it is kind of, from the coasts in a little bit, but really more emphasized in the West Coast right now.

Matt 15:13
But that’s definitely something to be aware of, because it just, again, the whole industry is now kind of aware, I think we’re at the beginning point where, I mean, just over his last few months, we see how dominant that this change is coming. And, you know, being in front of the main front, and, like you said, watching for the opportunities for grants and, you know, offset costs, and there’s even a way for this to be a revenue generator, right, by containing electric, you know, housing, I’m trying to explain how that works a little bit.

Chris 15:46
Yeah, that’s right. So, you know, some properties, by the way, choose to give their electricity away for free for now, that’s, I think, okay, because we don’t have that adoption quite yet. But in the future, that, that can make a dramatic difference in bills, we’ve already seen that in some property. So, the average per kilowatt, charges around, 20 cents or so can be a lot less per kilowatt hour, 20 cents or so, across the country, you know, can be as little as eight cents, and it depends on demand, times it can be different pricing, but that said, you can make margin on electricity, right, so, five cents, 10 cents, in terms of the margin that you can make on the electricity on selling electricity. Absolutely. There’s also, some folks out there charging extra, in terms of these parking slots as well, too, for these now, think about it, if a consumer is going to come to their own single family home and put a level two charger, and that’s what’s commonly used for home use as a level two, not the fast chargers, of course, that could be, 1500 to $2,500 to install on your home, well, now you’re getting access for that, to your, in your apartment community getting access to so it’s only fair to pay, just, pay for that access, right to that charge, or that that was built out. So that’s kind of the piece, the pieces of the kind of the revenue generator, but it’s more if you think about it. Now, it’s think about the amenities is more like a pool, right? You know, it’s like, are you charging extra for that pool or not? Is it something that you really need? Now, this is an amenity and utility really, now, that’s just required. So being able to offset costs, and just to, maintain this high value resident for now, right now, this high value resident that owns EVs is probably the best thought process and not to try and overcharge to make extra margin on it, especially if the infrastructure is getting paid for by utilities, depending on the size of the property, it can be up to $350,000 of infrastructure paid for by the utility for these multifamily communities. That’s, that’s incredible.

Courtney 18:21
Yeah, it really is. Yeah.

Matt 18:24
Can you give like an overview, kind of kind of a quick overview, if, you know, listeners are thinking, okay, we want to look into this, what would they expect? You know, what’s going to be the steps, the timeline, maybe the things that you know, what they need to consider? Just a good 360? On the process?

Chris 18:40
Yeah, that’s, that’s really a good question. I mean, it really starts with understanding the incentives, we have, and not just us, but other companies, we have a complete, functional group that only works on incentives and grants, where they are, how they’re applied, what are the rules, right to apply for those. So that’s kind of the first piece of understanding where those are and where they can be leveraged to pay, for this infrastructure, like I said, past 90% of all those 14,000 charges that we put in 790 buildings 9% of that was all paid for, by incentives. That’s massive, right? Millions and millions of dollars that was paid for. So, understanding those first and your provider can help you with that. The next piece of that is, okay, we have to survey and evaluate that property is to understand what’s going to take to install, what are the costs associated with that? And how can we map that with the incentives, to make the best possible opportunity for building out the infrastructure? The next piece is planning and design, right? You have electrical engineers; we have RF engineers right to plan and design both the connectivity and exactly how this infrastructure is going to be built out. Yeah, the permitting and approval process, installation, validation of it right, do validation testing that all works and then manage and operate. The biggest piece of that really is that incentive application process that can take a lot of time we’re seeing with, Southern California Edison, it can be as much as six months to pass through that process, right. So, it’s time to get in line now with a lot of these to get your property in line get ready for that processing. So that’s probably the longest pole in the tent, the actual infrastructure and building it out, depending upon, indoor outdoor pedestals, you know, things like that, that can be just one to three weeks to build out this infrastructure. It’s not, it’s not a terrible amount of time, especially if you don’t have trenching. And if you’re indoor, right, you don’t have a lot of the aesthetics to be concerned about, there’s a lot of conduit and wiring being run and ceilings in parking structures. So it’s, it’s not as much of an issue if you have to go outside and trench and cement and asphalt and all those things. So it can take definitely longer in those cases, but true end to end, that biggest chunk is really, the application process to get these incentives.

Matt 21:20
So, there you have it beat go and check and see what incentives if they’re available now, because once they’re gone, they’re gone. And, you know, knowing that 90% of the work that’s being done is through incentives. That is the call to action, you know, from what you’re saying for sure. Chris, believe it or not, we’ve already ran out of time. It’s been so amazing. I know. There’s other things that we could talk about. We’ll have you come back on. But can you give our listeners the best way to connect with you, they want to connect with you and learn more about Chargie.

Chris 21:51
Yeah, just go to our site at Chargie.com as simple as that is that you know, C h a r g i e .com, you’ll find us there. And, or you can just get me, Chris.vargas@chargie.com and I’m happy to answer any questions for you.

Matt 22:09
And we’ll be sure to put that information in the show notes. So thanks again, Chris.

Chris 22:14
Yeah, thanks so much, Courtney and Matt, really enjoyed time with you.

Matt 22:18
All right, Courtney, another amazing episode. i This is so great. I mean, I feel like we’re like cutting edge bringing some insights that, you know, maybe a lot of people were having heard about. So, this was really informative to myself as well. So, are you feeling up to it? I know you got a little bit of cold on can you close this out?

Courtney 22:38
I can I I’m just as excited about electric cars as anyone else. I just can’t wait for it to get more to the Midwest. You know, there’s a lot of locations here I think could really benefit from it. And I’m sure a lot of our listeners are excited to kind of look into some of these grants and figure out how they can get started. So, you know, of course, as always, if you like the show enjoyed what Chris had to say, like us, rate us, send us some feedback. We’d love to hear from you guys. Until next time.