EV Charging at Airports – A Look Toward the Future


EV Charging at Airports – A Look Toward the Future

The number of Electric Vehicles (EV) cars on the road is growing every day as OEMs retool production to offer more EV options moving toward a fully electric offering.  If an airport parking facility is not already offering EV charging for customers, the business will be left behind as these drivers go elsewhere. 

The days of EV charging as a “nice to have” are in the rearview mirror; the view through our windshield is one where parking facilities offer blended charging solutions based on client duration of stay and battery size. This is especially true at airports, as travelers both want and need to charge up while they’re traveling. There are multiple best practices regarding how we can prepare to meet future EV driver needs.

JuiceBar is in a unique position to understand best practices for EV charging at airports. Born at Canopy Airport Parking in Denver, Colorado, the original stations were custom designed by BMW Design Works 15 years ago to serve all types of EV drivers in a zero-carbon footprint facility at Canopy Airport. Right from the start, our EV charging offering covered the premium valet and the covered self-park experience. We have continued to adapt our Connecticut, USA-built stations with improved technology and features for airport and other facilities. 


Top 10 Ways Airport Facilities Can Best Manage the Coming Tsunami of EV Drivers

 1 – Continually rotate EVs in need of a charge with fully charged EVs.

 2 – Utilize software for electricity consumption reporting and billing.

 3 – Implement reservation management for EV drivers through software.

 4 – Provide White-Glove Valet EV service for upsell opportunities.

 5 – Ability to scale up as the number of EV drivers increases while minimizing capital expense for the purchase of EV chargers.

 6 – Ability to share a limited amount of power onsite across a row of EVs.

 7 – Provide for DC Fast Charger appetites from Rideshare providers like Lyft and Uber.

 8 – Support airport shuttle electrification and charging the 24×7 shuttle duty cycle.

 9 – Stay on top of available grant money for scaling operations.

10 – Avoid a bad EV charging experience and the loss of a customer.


Best Practices for EV Charging at an Airport Facility

Reservation software systems such as PARCS are used by Han Chau and Clayton Hopkins from Canopy Airport Parking and other Propark airport facilities to notify facilities in advance of EV charging needs for drivers. The incoming driver creates a profile including what model EV and size of battery that he or she may have (50, 75, or 100 kW). 

All this information is taken into consideration with the date and time that they are returning, allowing the Canopy team to run daily reports and schedule charging sessions for specific time periods. This type of proactive management approach helps them keep a five-star rating. 

Many industry operations veterans refer to this as EV Tetris. Staying ahead of the return date can remove any anxiety that a client will return to pick up an empty EV. 

Another best practice for EV turnaround management, in addition to software, is the use of laminated Red and Green Placards to be placed under the EV windshield wiper stating Full or Empty, providing a fast visual count of EVs in need of a charge. 

An added benefit about the PARCS system is the ability to customize the software with five-star customer service in mind. QR codes on the valet tickets text the Canopy team to notify them the client has landed, are picking up their baggage and are on the way to the shuttle bus. This data is sent to the operations center at Canopy where a screen showcases who is returning on the next shuttle, enabling quick valet delivery of the fully charged EV.


Best Practices for EV Charging Equipment 

When it comes to knowing what type of charging equipment to purchase, airport facility owners and managers are faced with the daunting question, what type of charging equipment do I need, and will it last for years? My 10+ years of experience in EV support advises you to choose a commercial grade Level 2 charging station with open-source, rather than a commodity purchase at lower quality and price. That said, you will still be faced with a decision whether or not to allow self-parkers at short and long-term parking locations to simply park their EV and leave for days or weeks without the ability to move the vehicle. 

For self-park applications, power can be apportioned along a row of EV chargers at a long-term lot to effectively share the available power. Many operators choose to avoid that and run EV support as a high-level valet service. If you do choose to offer high output DC Level 3 charging, a valet charging service is necessary as the sessions are completed in 30-45 minutes. Level 1 outlets are still an option for long-term parking, however, Level 1 chargers typically don’t offer any control or reporting features, and all of the cords on the ground create tripping hazards.


Best Practices for Shuttle Fleet EV Charging Equipment 

The road to electrifying airport shuttles starts with an understanding of the costs related to vehicles and infrastructure, as well as the resources required for driver and technician training. Electric Airport Shuttle Operations are becoming the next wave of support vehicles quicker than most operators predicted. Many EV bus manufacturers like Endera, Phoenix Motorcars, Lightning, Lion Electric, and Proterra are placing units at airport operations all over the U.S. 

Grant funding can cover the purchase and installation costs of the EV Shuttles and associated charging infrastructure, often provided by the local electric utility or state DEP using VW settlement money or soon to be available U.S. infrastructure dollars. Most utilities are rolling out their own incentive programs; Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric have significant funding available to assist customers to set up the charging infrastructure needed to support a fleet of medium or heavy-duty vehicles. 


What Does Best-In-Class Look Like? 

San Francisco Airport sets the example of best-in-class airport EV charging. Here’s why. SFO has equipped each public garage with smart chargers so owners of electric plug-in vehicles can recharge easily. Many EV stalls are conveniently located near elevator cores. With the opening of the new Long-Term Parking Garage, SFO has approximately 270 public parking stalls with access to electric outlets, plus 115 employee spaces. Their light-duty vehicle fleet will be almost 75 percent electric by 2023. Its full-time landside bus fleet should be all-electric by 2027, supplementing the AirTran electric rail system that is currently being extended. They do not offer a valet service as that premium EV service level is typically offered by private near-airport operators like LAZ, Preflight, Parking Spot and Propark

Software Options to Best Manage Charging and Deliver a Great EV Driver Experience

Airport parking facility operators are faced with the following software options.

• Use their current PARCS reservation software and keep it all under one platform.

• Select an open source OCCP EV specific software that offers choice and flexibility to change communication networks when a better or more economical choice is available.

• Upcharge the valet price or daily price to accommodate for EV charging.

• Run a reporting-only software to comply with utility or state EV incentive requirements.


Take Away Notes for your Airport Facility EV Charging Future

• Start the service right away – EV drivers are going elsewhere now, and a first mover advantage is important as it is hard to change consumer behavior.

• Choose ‘Made in the U.S.A’. Commercial grade equipment for durability, speed of delivery and safety.

• Find a resource to advise you on all State and Utility EV charging incentives.

• Choose open source OCCP Software for flexibility.

• Begin looking at Electric Shuttles now.

• Plan on scaling up EV support over the next 5-10 years to meet electrification of transportation needs. 

The EV industry has just left the terminal gate and is on time for its journey into the future, supercharged by the Federal Administration’s infrastructure plans. 

Paul Young is Vice President Sales at JuiceBar. He can be reached at paul@juicebarev.com


Article contributed by:
Paul Young
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