Should you invest in EV charging?

NATIONAL REPORT—Drive around the parking lot at the local mall or train station, and you’re likely to find parking spots designated for electric vehicles, often in prime positions. EV charging stations are becoming commonplace throughout the United States, as drivers switch over to vehicles that are more efficient and better for the environment. But should your hotel offer EV charging stations for guests? 

According to the second annual electric mobility report, “Charging Forward” from ChargePoint, a company that has a network of charging stations worldwide, by 2040, 54% of new car sales and 33% of the global fleet will be electric.

“We are in the midst of the tipping point in a revolution in transportation,” said Michael Jones, VP of sales at ChargePoint. “Electric vehicles have significantly increased in popularity in recent years, and market research indicates that EVs are on a trajectory toward mass adoption within the next few decades.”

In 2017, the U.S. EV market reached historic milestones, Jones said: With more than 41 models available, annual sales reached nearly 200,000 units for the first time ever. By 2020, more than one million electric vehicles will have been sold in the U.S.

“With at least 30 new EV models in nearly every category coming out over the next several years, consumers will have more choice than ever before, encouraging even broader EV adoption,” Jones said.

With an ever-increasing number of potential guests looking for places to charge up when they park, what does that mean for hotels? “Charging stations are important to address a few changes in our industry: First, there is a focus on attracting the growing number of drivers who are increasingly moving to electric vehicles,” Jones said. “The shift to electric mobility is happening across the board in a number of industries, so it’s important to prepare your brand for that shift. Providing access to charging for electric vehicles is a great way to appeal to the growing market of EV drivers. Second, there is a rise in demand for ‘value-oriented’ select-service hotels. These bridge the gap between full luxury and economy-style hotels by providing specialized amenities, like charging, that are essential to meet the needs of EV owners. Third, renovations at properties are at an all-time high, affording great opportunities to incorporate EV charging into larger projects to reduce overall capital costs.”

Jones noted that hoteliers do currently face challenges when it comes to implementing EV charging stations—namely a lack of knowledge about vendor options, the high cost of capital to retrofit and the interruption to business operations that comes with construction—but there are also plenty of benefits.

“By offering charging solutions, hoteliers provide an essential amenity for EV drivers, which will in turn foster brand loyalty and create repeat customers,” he said.

When investigating a solution, Jones said, it’s important for a hotelier to ask three questions: What value can you bring to my property? How do you ensure my customers have a great experience? Do you have references or case studies that provide evidence of the benefits of offering EV charging?

Jones noted that certain states do tend to have more EV stations currently. “EVs tend to be most popular in states with legislation in place to encourage the transition to e-mobility, such as California, Texas, Washington and others that offer incentives for EV drivers,” he said. “In many of these states, new EV purchases and registrations are growing faster than new infrastructure development. Businesses that choose to meet this demand with investments in charging infrastructure can benefit from first mover advantage.”

Top 10 states for EV driver growth include Utah, Oklahoma, Vermont, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Hampshire, Missouri, Arizona and Massachusetts.

“While these states play a vital role in the e-mobility revolution, the adoption of EVs is spreading across the nation, and we only expect the expansion to accelerate as more EVs come onto the market and charging infrastructure expands,” Jones said. “We anticipate that our network will grow rapidly across every state in the U.S. as the popularity of EVs continues to increase and the world moves closer toward the mass adoption of electrification.” HB