Is it Time to Add Electric Vehicle Charging Stations to Your Retail Shopping Center?

If you own a retail shopping center and have not installed an electric charging station – you might want to explore the options.  Electric vehicle (“EV”) production continues to flourish as countries around the world adopt enhanced emission and greenhouse gas standards.  In the United States, vehicle emission and fuel efficiency standards have increased the production of more EV’s which will provide consumers with more appealing options.  Whether or not government regulations get reduced or removed, production of EV technology has turned global.  Every major automobile manufacturer has heeded the call and are migrating to enhanced EV production (some faster than others!).  Though consumers have been slow to respond and switch over to an EV or hybrid type vehicle, it is only a matter of time.

To stay ahead of the curve, it is time to look at how you can integrate EV charging station technology into your retail center.  To date, EV charging is done primarily at-home with some roadside stations including EV manufacturer sponsored “free” stations.  A relative handful of “for pay” charging stations have popped up and more states are regulating how “for pay” EV charging stations actually charge customers for their service.  New “fast-charge” or Level 3 technology stations are charging customers by the kilowatt hour (kwh).

Today, shopping center owners can step ahead of the curve and develop a plan to capture a significant market share of the “for pay” EV Charging business.  What place is more convenient to charge your EV than while grocery shopping or at a restaurant.  As you explore adding EV charging stations to your shopping center, following are some things to consider:

Lease Considerations – Shopping center owners need to amend their lease form in contemplation of: 1. the control and placement of EV parking/ charging stations; 2. parking implications; 3. shopping center owner exclusive; 4. EV Charging parking rules (you will want to prevent a customer or employee from parking for extended periods (set a time limit based on actual time it takes to charge).

Where to locate? – conduct a site assessment to determine the most cost-effective location within your retail center. Look at how closely you can locate adjacent to your electric service/ panel to avoid lengthy cable and conduit runs. Assess whether you should create a cluster island with signage to promote your offering to leverage marketing and convenience for the EV owner.  EV charging parking spaces should consider time metering to preempt long-term parking without revenue.  Evaluate any impact on parking ratios.

Costs – today’s Level 3 technology offers faster charging capabilities but is much more expensive than older, slower charging devices. It is expected that EV charging technology will decrease with more demand.  It is also expected that new and faster technology will replace today’s Level 3 platform.

Industry Standards – the EV industry is on the eve of adopting plug and outlet standards to create a more viable national charging platform, an issue many consumers cite as a reason not to buy EVs. Before you make the investment, make sure your charging apparatus is as universal as possible.

Revenue Potential – with the evolution of EV technology and the increased range of travel, it is possible that commercial EV charging will surpass at-home residential charging. Though charging ports need to be standardized much like conventional gas nozzles and gas tank modules, it is plausible that the cost effectiveness of charging at home versus charging at a commercial location will shift in favor of commercial.  In addition, EV charging in urban living environments is more challenging than residential locations that have private parking and access to private power sources.

If you own a shopping center and have not thought about EV parking and charging, it is time for you to develop a strategy, so you don’t miss an opportunity to capture revenue and increase your NOI!

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