Should Your Small Business Install Electric Vehicle Charging Stations?
The growing popularity of electric vehicles means drivers need more charging points. This is an attractive option for companies of all sizes as government agencies look to expand the country’s freight infrastructure. Could installing electric car charging stations in the parking lot benefit your small business?
Installing car chargers can attract new customers, improve the image of your company and bring in additional income. Here’s a deeper look at the benefits and costs involved and how they might influence your decision.
Potential Business Benefits of Electric Car Charging Stations
Electric cars represent a ready and attractive market for the right company. Research shows that 85% of EV owners have an annual income of at least $100,000, suggesting that they may have more disposable income than your average customer. Installing electric car chargers can entice them to leave your business.
Since it takes some time to load, these customers can spend more time in your store. National retailer RetailCo experienced this firsthand when customers saw an average 50-minute increase in time spent in their stores after installing electric car chargers. In event-based businesses, this increases the chance that customers will make a purchase. for service-based businesses, it provides more face-to-face time with customers to generate ongoing business opportunities.
Customers who see electric car chargers on your lot will get a positive image of your business. Even if they don’t drive an electric car, the presence of charging stations shows that you care about the environment, and 85% of consumers have changed their shopping habits to be more sustainable. The same study found that more than a third are willing to pay more for sustainability, which could lead to increased sales or customers choosing your services over less environmentally conscious competitors.
These chargers can also help you attract top talent, as 74% of EV owners are very interested in charging at work. And if your company is joining others in the transition to electric vehicles, you can use these chargers for your companies as well.
Installation costs of electric car charging stations
Of course, electric car charging stations also have their share of costs. Small business owners should weigh them to determine if this is a wise investment. The price of a
charger varies by type and manufacturer, but in general, you can expect to pay around $6,000 for a charging port. Repainting parking lots, adding custom branded signage, and purchasing associated software also add to the upfront cost. Adding just a few chargers is a significant investment.
After the installation of new charging stations, higher electricity bills are also expected. After RetailCo installed electric vehicle charging stations, the company’s utility bills increased by about $50 a month. Charging an electric car costs $30 to $60 per vehicle per month in energy bills, depending on local electricity costs and how often the chargers are used.
How to Reduce Charging Station Costs
While charging station installation costs and higher utility bills may be beyond budget for some small businesses, costs can be reduced. Unfortunately, the federal tax credit for electric car charging stations ended in 2021, but several states continue to offer incentives to companies. New York, for example, offers an income tax credit of up to $5,000 for the installation of public electric car chargers. In addition, some utilities offer incentives to cover the cost of installing chargers. For example, Southern California Edison’s Charge Ready program offers companies discounts on the purchase and installation of electric vehicle charging stations.
While offering free electric car charging to customers is desirable, it is probably not feasible for many small businesses. One way to cover higher energy bills is to require customers to pay to charge usage. Another option is to use solar panels to generate electricity for charging stations. Although solar panels pay for themselves over time, they also have high upfront costs. Solar financing strategies can help reduce these costs, but installing solar panels is not a viable solution for every small business.
Before installing charging stations
Be sure to check the availability of charging in your area to see if you can get a reasonable commercial deal. Some states have tens of thousands of chargers, while others have only tens. If your business is the only place in the area that offers downloads, you may see more visitors because of it.
If possible, work with an EV charging company that has a large customer network so they can drive their users to the store and bring in new business faster. Don’t forget to advertise charging stations and post clear signs to inform customers about the new service.
EV charging stations can be a promising business opportunity.
Installing electric vehicle charging stations is expensive, but the right company can experience benefits such as increased customer retention, new customers, and an environmentally conscious corporate image, all of which can increase revenue. Costs and benefits may vary as some markets respond more positively to sustainable options and available incentives vary from state to state. Small business owners should check local fees and incentives, EV ownership rates, and existing charging infrastructure to determine if the investment is worthwhile.
As with any investment, it’s best to start small and grow from there. Start by installing two or four chargers, then add more as demand is sufficient. Compare electric car chargers and ask for an estimate before choosing one. Consider the customer service and additional features of potential partners when making these decisions.
Also, compare pricing models. Free stations attract more customers, but paid charging helps offset some of the installation and electricity costs. Therefore, businesses with larger budgets may prefer the free model, while smaller businesses may need to start with a paid model and consider switching to a free model later when increased business covers the charging costs.
Installation of electric car charging stations can be a profitable investment for companies with a large enough budget in areas where the acquisition of electric cars is growing rapidly. Small businesses in areas where there aren’t many EVs may want to wait before investing in charging stations. Find electric car charging points near you on this interactive EVhype map.