It’s no secret that electric vehicles (EVs) are rising in popularity, with many vehicle manufacturers releasing a variety of electric and hybrid models, and a large number of drivers across the UK already having made the switch. The speed at which we’re moving towards more sustainable travel is impressive, but what the country seems to be lacking now is accessible charge points.
Some EV owners are able to have a charge point installed at home, but not all properties are suitable for this type of installation. There are also a variety of publicly accessible charging stations across the country which can be useful for a quick battery top-up on the go, but many drivers find themselves detouring from their route in order to pass one of these chargers. A way to combat this is by placing charge points in places that drivers frequent, such as businesses.
If your business has a large number of employees, customers, or both, installing EV charge points on the premises is likely to be a worthy investment. Having accessible EV charging can differentiate your business from competitors, providing a bigger appeal to customers who own EVs, resulting in increased traffic as well as customer loyalty.
If you think your business could benefit from EV charge points, read on to learn some important considerations that you should take before making the final decision.
Location – where would you have the charge points installed?
For most businesses, EV charge points will be installed in a car park. If your business owns the car park, then you’re free to make decisions such as this, but if your business rents its car park then you’ll need to get permission from the landlord prior to installation.
For rented car parks, it’s important to consider how long is left on the lease, and whether there could be any potential issues with renewing the lease. EV charge points can be a great investment for your business, but if your lease is set to expire soon and you do not renew it, a lot of the installation costs will be wasted.
You should also consider where within the car park you wish to install the charge points. The further this distance is from the main power supply, the more expensive the charge points will be to install. It can be beneficial to get the area surveyed by an electrician in order to determine any complexities with installing to your desired area.
Usage – who are the charge points being installed for?
Depending on your business type, your charge points may be utilised by employees, customers or visitors, as well as any combination of these. If your employees have electric or hybrid company vehicles, you may wish to supply charge points for them, allowing them to recharge their vehicles whilst on-site.
Even if your employees do not have company vehicles, there may be enough that drive personal EVs that would benefit from charge points on-site. To determine whether the investment is truly worth your time and money, consider sending a survey round to all employees. You can ask things like who drives an EV, who is considering switching to an EV in the near future and who would utilise on-site charge points if they were available. If enough employees respond positively to this, installing charge points is likely to be a good idea.
For businesses that see a large number of customers on a daily basis, especially for longer-stay premises such as cinemas, sports venues, shopping centres or hotels, you may wish to supply enough charge points for customers to utilise. It can be more difficult to determine if there is a demand for customer charge points. Depending on your business type, you could hand out similar surveys to customers to see if there is any demand for EV charging on your site, however, it’s unlikely that you can guarantee regular visits from each respondent as you can with employees.
Quantity – how many charge points are you looking to install?
The number of charge points that you want to be installed will most likely depend on how many EVs will utilise them. If your business is office-based, you’re likely to only need charge points for employees and the occasional visitor, so by conducting a survey you can gain an idea of how many charge points would be realistically used on a regular basis.
Of course, you do not need to install the maximum number of charge points, you could instead implement a system of limiting your employee’s use of them. For example, you could limit each employee with an EV to two days a week of charge point usage, even introducing a booking system to ensure that everyone has a fair opportunity to charge their vehicles throughout the working week.
For customer-facing businesses that see a large amount of foot traffic each day, you may need to take more consideration into how many charge points you truly need. It’s important to remember that customers are unlikely to visit your business purely for the charge points, so it isn’t the end of the world if they arrive and find that all of your charge points are occupied.
If you plan to provide charge points to both employees and customers, consider having dedicated bays in separate areas of the car park. This will ensure that employees will not have to sacrifice their charging for customers, and the same vice versa. Be sure to leave enough standard parking spaces for petrol/diesel vehicles.
If you decide to install a large number of charge points, you must consider the impact this amount will have on the electrical circuit. EVs are high-energy applications that can put the circuit under strain if they aren’t managed properly. If you’re installing a large amount, it may be worth considering upgrading your power supply or choosing charge points with dynamic load balancing. Dynamic load balancing monitors power loads on the circuit, allocating available capacity to the outlets that need it the most, balancing the amount of power that is being used at one time.
Payment – will you charge a fee for use of your charge points?
Whether or not you provide free charging is entirely down to you as the business owner, and whether the business can viably afford to provide it.
Providing free charging for employees can be a great incentive, especially if they’re driving company EVs. However, if you do decide to provide free EV charging for your employees, the commute to work for EV drivers becomes entirely free, so if you have employees that drive petrol/diesel vehicles, you should consider how you can compensate them in a similar way. A simple way to achieve this is by paying these employees a specific amount per mile for their commute to and from work, but you can decide how best to go about this for your business.
You may also choose to provide free charging for customers, as this is a great incentive for them too and is likely to put you above any competitors that offer EV charging for a cost. Again, you should consider whether the business can viably afford this.
If you decide to charge users for use of your EV charge points, there are two main ways you can go about this: pay-per-kWh or charging a subsidised cost.
Charging per kWh means that each vehicle will be charged for the exact amount of electricity that it has cost your business. If you decide to charge in this way, Fuuse is a user-friendly charge point management system that can simplify the payment process for your business and for the users of the charge points. Fuuse also offers static load balancing, which can assist your power usage if you have a large number of charge points.
If you decide to charge a subsidised cost, some of the costs of charging each vehicle will be absorbed back into the business, producing a discounted rate for each user. Cheaper charging can be a great incentive, but again, only if your business can afford to offer it.
With the government aiming to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030, the demand for EV charging will only increase over the coming years. Get ahead of the game and install EV charge points at your business now. If you’re still unsure whether EV charge points are a good fit for your business, contact a specialist to discuss your circumstances and options further.
Matthew Gibbons is the Managing Director of Plug&Drive, a manufacturer and installer of electric vehicle charge points, based in Maldon, Essex.