How Parking Can Capitalize on the Electric Vehicle Revolution

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How Parking Can Capitalize on the Electric Vehicle Revolution

With electric cars becoming more accessible, affordable, and attractive to the mainstream consumer, parking owners and operators face a huge opportunity. 

Already, 1.6 million EV drivers are on U.S. roads. By 2030, more Americans are expected to be buying electric cars than gas-powered ones. California, home to one out of every eight U.S. residents, will eliminate all in-state sales of gas cars by 2035.

In the United States, a significant gap is growing between the supply of charging stations and driver demand for them.

It’s not just personal vehicles, either. Entire fleets of commercial vehicles, delivery vans, ride-shares, and scooters are becoming electrified. Advances in battery technology are enabling EV drivers to travel much farther on a single charge, at a cost that’s increasingly competitive with gas-car ownership, especially in fleet situations.  

Here’s where parking owners and operators come in. The growing number of EV drivers need many more places where they can park their vehicles and plug them into chargers while they go about their days. 

The EV parking mindset

To grasp the opportunity that awaits parking owners and operators, it helps to understand how EV drivers think differently about parking, compared to gas-car drivers. 

Gas-car drivers will typically wait until they’re below a quarter tank to fill up at a fuel station. In contrast, EV drivers want to consistently maintain as close to a full charge as possible. To do so, they may seek out several EV charging stations in a single day. 

In fact, one-quarter to more than one-third of EV charging happens away from home, when drivers park and plug into charging stations while they’re at work, shopping, out to eat, or doing any number of things. While they’re out and about, EV drivers will go out of their way to park in lots and garages that offer EV charging. 

There are also a number of popular smartphone apps that exist to help drivers identify and map their route to the nearest charging stations. Parking facilities that add EV charging literally put themselves on these maps. 

Maps aside, EV drivers in some areas must look long and hard to locate charging stations when they need them. In the United States, a significant gap is growing between the supply of charging stations and driver demand for them. According to a 2019 Electric Power Research Institute report, nearly one million public charging ports will be needed by 2030 to support nearly 19 million EVs. (A single charging station typically has one or two ports). Currently, fewer than 100,000 such ports are available to U.S. drivers, and many impose limits on their use. 

Parking owners and operators who step in now to fill the nation’s EV charging gap stand to reap big rewards.

Benefits of early action

Eventually, as more gas-car drivers switch to EVs, every parking facility will need to install charging stations. Facilities that act sooner will likely spend less on their initial investment. They also will attract EV drivers (and their parking and charging revenue) earlier than facilities that choose to wait. 

How? Current tax credits and utility rebates can dramatically reduce the cost of charging stations and make-ready expenses. And locations that establish themselves as parking-and-charging destinations, ahead of their competition, will be in a better position to secure an early slice of the revenue pie.

From standard parking to next-generation “mobility hubs”

Using EV charging to attract new parking customers is only one of the ways that parking facilities use EV charging stations to generate revenue, however. With networked charging stations, parking owners and operators can charge customers not only to park but also to plug into the charging stations.

Adding EV charging also provides a path for facilities that seek to evolve their business to satisfy changing customer demands. Increasingly, parking owners and operators are adopting new technologies — such as FlashParking’s parking management system — to transform their parking assets into multi-service “mobility hubs.” 

A connected mobility hub can do more for existing customers than offer parking — it could also provide EV charging or last-mile transport with a private fleet of scooters, according to Neil Golson, executive vice president for marketing and strategic partnerships at FlashParking. A mobility hub can also transform during “off” hours to stay productive with fleet charging and servicing, ride-share staging or as a delivery and logistics hub, he says. 

Golson estimates that the value of each consumer transaction within a parking facility can triple when owners and operators offer diverse mobility solutions, like EV charging. 

Today, the disruption of people’s daily patterns caused by COVID-19 provides an opportunity to shape new habits through technology, Golson adds. Owners and operators could seize this moment to go beyond parking to harness existing demand, diversify revenue, and transform isolated parking assets into connected mobility hubs.

To get started with EV charging, locations need a few key ingredients: undisrupted space in garages and surface lots, convenient locations, and access to electric power. That’s good news for parking owners and operators, who already possess these assets. More than most businesses, parking facilities are well-equipped to capitalize now on the EV revolution. 

MARK HENDERSON is an energy industry veteran and Vice President of Sales and Marketing for EVBox North America. He can be reached through www.EVBox.com

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Mark Henderson
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