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April 6, 2023

When It Comes To Rise Of EV, The Writing — And The Charging Station — May Be On The Wall

In today’s uncertain world, many people probably wish they could predict the future, whether it concerns the economy, weather or politics.

However, some tea leaves are easier to read than others, which is the case when making forecasts about the future of electric vehicle usage.

Thanks to EV ownership rising around the world, states such as California phasing out gasoline-powered vehicles and the Biden administration putting its weight behind ensuring wider access to reliable EV charging, it is not unreasonable to predict that EV adoption will continue to expand. One projection is that as many as 60% of all vehicles purchased in 2030 could be electric.

This trend has not gone unnoticed by developers and landlords, who recognize that the growing ranks of EV owners include their own residents and tenants. Multifamily residents and office tenants expect to be able to keep their vehicles fully charged while they are at work or home. In fact, studies show the vast majority of EV charging happens at home.

“Building owners definitely get the idea that having EV charging capabilities on their properties is desirable,” said Zach Jennings, CEO of EV charging network provider Chargie. “Aside from the environmental benefit, EV charging capabilities will help them attract tenants or residents who will stay longer because they appreciate it as an amenity.”

Installing a handful of charging stations in the parking area might help a building cope with shorter-term EV demands. But Jennings warned that as EV adoption grows, tenant demand could quickly outgrow a building’s charging infrastructure if owners didn’t think ahead.

“We’re always stressing with building owners that you need to look at the long game,” Jennings said. “You don’t necessarily need to install everything all at once. But at least install a system that can maximize the number of chargers you can get into the building today and has the infrastructure already in place to easily expand in the future.”

That is the approach of Hankey Investment Co., which has been adding EV charging to its properties since 2018. Its newest multifamily building, the 644-unit Kurve on Wilshire in Los Angeles, is home to 40 charging stations, most of them in residential parking areas.

Raul Arevalo, Hankey executive vice president, said this “robust” approach allows current tenants to charge their cars on a first-come, first-served basis. He added, though, that Hankey recognizes this initial infrastructure will not serve residents’ needs forever — or even for more than a few more years at the pace of current EV adoption.

“The number of stations now in service may not be enough to meet the growing demand,” Arevalo said. “Fortunately, Kurve was designed with the future in mind and has the infrastructure to add more charging stations to accommodate even more EVs.”

Jennings said that adding EV infrastructure to a client’s building is a “very planned-out and methodical process” that a company like Chargie can complete in a matter of weeks. But as with any renovation project, the work requires upfront permitting and engineering, which can be the most time-consuming part of the process, and another reason to not delay EV charger installation.

Planning ahead also gives a building an opportunity to take full advantage of government and utility EV incentives. Jennings said these rebates can be quite generous, covering up to 100% of the cost in some cases. However, the application process can take months, or even years, to complete and, like any incentive, will not be available forever.

These programs also tend to be quite popular and can quickly become oversubscribed with late applicants put on a waitlist.

“Every EV rebate program we’ve been a part of has always very quickly hit the absolute maximum number of applicants,” Jennings said. “This is unlike incentives for LED lighting and low-flow toilets, which can just sit unused for years.”

Hankey’s Arevalo said building owners should take full advantage of rebate opportunities in their areas.

“These allow us to limit out-of-pocket expenditures as much as possible,” he said. “Chargie was great at navigating the incentive programs for us.”

Chargie has installed more than 15,000 charging stations in more than 1,000 properties. As the price of EVs fall and more drivers can afford to trade their gas vehicles for electric, a wider scope of buildings will likely begin to offer charging stations.

“This started as a premium feature in some of the ‘nicer’ buildings, but we believe EV charging needs to be available to everybody,” Jennings said. “We do a lot of work in disadvantaged communities and perform installations for many types of property owners. This is not something that’s just for Class-A buildings; every building needs EV infrastructure.”

This article originally appeared on Bisnow.