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How to Modernize Parking Infrastructure with the Electric Vehicle Customer in Mind

June 28, 2020

Giovanni Bertolino

As electric vehicle (EV) adoption continues to grow, parking infrastructure will need to keep up with the new demands presented by a larger share of EVs on the road. Vehicle connectivity, smart infrastructure and IoT applications are just a few ways the parking landscape is evolving and playing a role in electric vehicles and the future of parking. 


When thinking through new parking designs, there are several factors to take into consideration. This includes placement of EV chargers, ratio of plugs installed, street parking solutions optimized for charging, and new electrical infrastructure to support charging. With over 40 electric vehicle models on sale in the U.S. right now, and an estimated 40 more by 2025, the growth of electric vehicles and demand for readily available charging will continue to rise. Over the next 10 years, charging installations will grow in North America and EV chargers will become a must-have amenity for municipalities, airports, workplaces, dealerships, universities, and hospitals. Approximately 10.8 million EV chargers will be installed, according to Wood Mackenzie’s EV charging report, and these EVs will need a spot in the parking lot. 


EVs are taking off and
infrastructure will not be optional 


Consumers are choosing to drive electric vehicles, not only due to a desire to improve the environment and their communities, but also due to the lifestyle advantages and cost savings associated with owning an EV. In the U.S., the average cost to operate a gas-powered vehicle costs $1,117 per year, while EV owners spend just $485 per year, according to the study by Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. Another benefit of driving an electric car includes the ability to utilize reserved parking locations with EV infrastructure. States recognize the importance of infrastructure to fuel EV adoption, and so are taking steps to incentivize and mandate accordingly. 


New CA legislation is mandating EV charging stations. Specifically, CALGreen mandates that 250,000 EV-capable charging stations be publicly available by 2025. The state has only installed 22,000 charging outlets so far, and requires six percent of parking spaces be EV-capable in new non-residential buildings, underlining the continued focus in the state on building additional EV infrastructure. This is also a growing trend outside of the ZEV focused California, with more areas in the U.S. mandating for EV capable parking. For example, Miami-Dade recently passed a zoning ordinance for new real estate projects to incorporate off-street parking requirements for electric vehicles.


Tips for maximizing EV infrastructure investment 


There are also opportunities for parking operators to utilize properties to optimize infrastructure costs. Before installing, parking operators should consult with an expert to understand the locations of existing infrastructure and WiFi capabilities. For example, the distance of each EV charging station to the point of each power connection will reduce installation costs. Designers should use a clustering strategy and place charging stations where guests are most likely to use them, particularly if the location is also close to the point of power connection, and use surface-mounted conduit. Chargers also need to be positioned so that a wide variety of EVs with differing charging port locations can charge without issue. When developing EV infrastructure, parking operators should opt for a grid-connected charging station to reduce operating costs and qualify for utility incentives. 


Commercial success for
electric vehicles will require installing smart charging infrastructure that is accessible,
easy to use, and cost-effective.


Access Incentives for Low to No Cost Charging Infrastructure


Many states are also developing goals to improve air quality and combat climate change and providing incentives for installation of EV infrastructure. The California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP) addresses regional needs for EV infrastructure throughout California, providing incentives for EV charger installations and working with local partners to develop and implement projects that meet current and future regional EV needs for Level 2 and DC fast charging. 


Depending on the state, there are different opportunities and incentives which support the growth of EV infrastructure. Charge Ready NY offers rebates up to $4,000 for public and private entities toward the purchase and installation of Level 2 EVSE at public parking facilities, workplaces, and multi-unit dwellings.


By installing EV charging stations at a place of business, parking operators are attracting customers and also providing benefits to employees. Austin Energy offers a rebate for commercial customers to install approved EVSE stations at workplaces. Depending on the equipment, up to $4,000 in rebates for Level 2 charging stations (and up to $10,000 installation of a DC fast charging station) are available, as well as a rebate of 50 percent of the cost to install approved Level 1 or Level 2 EVSE. Along with states, utilities and counties are providing incentive programs for charging infrastructure installation at the local level. For example, The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) provides commercial customers who purchase and install an EVSE for employees and public use up to $5,000 for each charger, with up to $750 in additional rebate funds per additional charge port. 


While the home continues to be one of the most convenient places to charge, the workplace is second to most popular. It is critical to incorporate smart charging capabilities within parking infrastructure in order to provide EV drivers with flexibility and to help relieve range anxiety at the workplace. Smart charging allows network operators to optimize energy flow into EVs where there is excess energy and costs are low. This enables consumers to get the most out of charging stations ensuring that EVs are using cost-effectively integrated clean energy and costs savings to the installer. Smart charging technology also ensures that EVs are reliably charged with the cleanest and cheapest power available, allowing drivers to manage their EVs’ charging schedule, electricity costs and renewable energy mix. 


Future-proofing EV Infrastructure Investments


“Smart charging,” also known as vehicle-grid integration, or networked charging, refers to charging infrastructure that is connected to WiFi and can respond to grid signals. There are a lot of benefits for site hosts that install smart charging infrastructure versus “dumb” or non-networked infrastructure. 




























































Charging Features



Dumb Charger



Smart Charger



Why It Matters



Connected to WiFi



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Prerequisite for all below features



Grid-enabled



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Qualifies for incentives and rebates. Lower Capex and Opex



Driver Apps



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Facilitates location, reservation, notification, etc...services



Operator Dashboard



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EVSE fleet management and optimization (access control, pricing, maintenance, etc..)



Track Consumption



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Lower Opex



Track Costs



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Lower Opex



Load Balancing



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Lower Opex



Install Incentives



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Lower Capex



Advances in technology are continuing to provide innovative ways to charge EVs. IoT technology integrates and connects vehicles to the grid, enabling businesses to use more renewable energy and reduce their carbon footprints. Commercial success for electric vehicles will require installing smart charging infrastructure that is accessible, easy to use, and cost-effective. The transportation environment and parking experience will continue to evolve to meet the demands of the consumer. 


Giovanni Bertolino, is Enel X North America Head of e-Mobility. He can be reached at Giovanni.Bertolino@enel.com



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