Electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly rising in popularity as a readily available and widespread means of transportation. Legislation like the Infrastructure Bill EV Credit provides incentives for EV owners to make the switch. Plug-in EV sales in 2021 amounted to 6.6 million, more than double the sales in 2020, and more than triple in 2019, according to the IEA. In California, ZEVs claimed 11.5% of all new car sales in the first three quarters of 2021, up 48% from 2020. Taking note, both Bloomberg and the International Energy Agency have increased their outlooks for EV’s share of total vehicle sales through 2040 by as much as 20%.
Automakers now make electric cars available across a range of price points and are designing different EVs to meet a diversity of consumer needs. With the unveiling of the Tesla Cybertruck and the first electric adventure vehicles from Rivian, EVs are now practical for even the most rugged destinations.
Some of the most popular EV models on the market right now include:
- Tesla: Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X
- General Motors: Chevrolet Bolt
- Porsche: Porsche Taycan
- Hyundai: Hyundai Kona electric, Hyundai Ioniq electric
- Ford: Ford Mustang Mach-e
- Nissan: Nissan LEAF
- Volkswagen: ID4
- Audi: Audi e-tron
Based on current trends, EV sales will reach tens of millions within the next 20 years, and this surge means a complete overhaul of our petroleum-reliant transportation sector is coming.
The Benefits of Driving an EV
There are several reasons why electric car sales have more than doubled in just a few years. People are recognizing the pros and cons of electric cars. Hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric vehicles are significantly more efficient than their gas-guzzling equivalents, which rely on fossil fuels and emit harmful pollutants like greenhouse gases. In 2019, the transportation sector accounted for 29% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
While there is no denying the environmental benefits of driving an electric vehicle, many EV drivers value the lifestyle advantages that come with EV ownership even more highly. EVs offer smoother and quieter acceleration, better handling, and instant linear torque, allowing them to outperform traditional gasoline-powered vehicles in nearly every way.
Additionally, EV drivers save on fuel costs (because electricity is typically cheaper than gasoline) and maintenance costs (because electric cars require fewer trips to the mechanic, which can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of several years). With smart charging, EV drivers can save even more money by using the lowest cost electricity available, while utilities can save money and meet energy efficiency goals by allocating EV charging energy demand to the times when electricity usage is lowest across the electric grid. Studies have found that compared to driving a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, California EV drivers save on average between $571 to $1,077 dollars per year on fueling costs alone.
Below is a summary of the ways that EVs benefit both the planet and your wallet:
- Reduced CO2 and tailpipe emissions
- Electricity as a fuel source can be derived from renewable resources, while internal combustion engines (ICE) are fueled primarily by petroleum, a non-renewable fossil fuel
- Electricity prices are lower and more stable than gas prices
- EVs tend to have fewer maintenance expenses
- The federal government offers tax credits and other fee reductions for EV purchases
- EVs provide access to local and state-level incentives, including access to special parking spaces and high-occupancy vehicle lane exemption, among others
Where can you charge an EV?
With millions of electric cars already on the road and lofty projections for EV sales in coming years, EV charging infrastructure needs to expand rapidly to meet the needs of EV drivers.
Simply put, more EVs mean a greater need for chargers. Before you buy an electric vehicle, you should know where to charge an electric car.
Currently, there are four primary areas where charging stations are accessible:
- Single-family homes
- Multi-unit residences (apartments and condominiums)
- Commercial buildings and workplaces
- Public charging corridors
A complete charge can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours depending on the size of the vehicle battery pack and the type of charging technology used. Most EV drivers participate in home charging; on average, EV drivers complete 80% of their charging where they live. The home will continue to be one of the most convenient places to charge because it is more time and cost-efficient, while the time required to achieve a full charge makes on-the-go public charging impractical as a primary charging option for many drivers.
For owners of a single-family home, it is relatively straightforward to invest in a 240-volt outlet and other improvements to speed up charging, and the convenience of charging at home provides drivers peace of mind knowing their EV will be fully charged each morning. This peace of mind may be why homeowners are three times as likely as renters to own an EV.
EV drivers living in multifamily communities desire the same convenient charging experience as single-family homeowners. Today, 37% of all U.S. households do not reside in a single-family residences. Thankfully, savvy landlords are responding to the EV charging demand voiced by their tenants. As more residents choose electric vehicles over their gas-guzzling counterparts, the need for EV charging stations at multifamily residences is becoming clear.
What’s in it for Property Owners?
Providing residents with electric vehicle charging stations allows the landlord, building managers, and property owner to:
- Increase occupancy rates by retaining current residents and attracting new residents
- Increase overall property value
- Take advantage of federal and state incentives for EV charging infrastructure
- Help meet standards for LEED building certification
- Promote smarter and greener technologies and take part in the transition to widespread EV adoption
As a property owner, it might interest you to know that EV charging can be a valuable amenity for many tenants and increase property values. A study by Realtor.com found that the median listing price is 1.5 times higher for California homes with close proximity to EV charging stations. Adding EV charging stations to a multifamily property can increase the resale value of the property and even attract residents who are looking to settle in communities with EV charging facilities and a demonstrated commitment to sustainability. By investing in smart EV charging equipment with the ability to manage and track energy usage, communities can manage the costs of providing this valuable amenity to tenants and even monetize a new revenue stream by billing tenants for EV charging. With that in mind, consider learning how to install an electric car charging station.
Thanks to generous incentives programs across the United States, there are hundreds of millions of dollars of incentives available to multifamily properties to fund commercial EV charging station equipment. This means that with zero investment of their own capital, many multifamily properties can install EV charging equipment and increase occupancy rate or even increase the market value of homes. The three main sources of funding are utility-provided incentive programs, state and local government incentive programs, and programs funded by the Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation. These incentives can cover up to 100% of the cost of purchasing and installing EV charging stations at multifamily locations, which represents a unique opportunity to future-proof a property with little or no capital investment.
For more information on incentives that may be available for properties in your area, please refer to our incentive database, where you can look up the availability of rebates and other incentives by ZIP code.
While generous financial incentives and increased property values are enticing enough to convince many property owners to install EVSE, many states and municipalities are also using regulations to mandate the development of EV charging stations. For new real estate developments, minimum requirements for the inclusion of EV charging stations have already been put in place in many jurisdictions. California’s CALGreen building code includes a provision requiring that 3% of parking spaces in new multi-unit dwellings be EV ready. Many municipalities go above these requirements, with Palo Alto, California requiring that multifamily residences of any size provide at least one EV-ready outlet or installed EV charging station for each residential unit in the structure. These mandates are designed to help multifamily properties prepare for the coming surge in electric vehicles and save money in the long run, since retrofitting a property to accommodate EV charging can be more expensive than installing them at the time of development.
A Model for EV-Friendly Building
Rentals and multifamily properties represent a large and increasing number of households in North America today. Residential charging is often cheaper and more convenient than public charging. There is a clear consensus among EV drivers that the best charging happens when EVs are left in a parking spot overnight.
Each of the above statements is a testament to why equipping multi-unit residences with the capacity to charge EVs is one of the best ways to address the existing gap in charging infrastructure and meet the growing demand for EVs and EVSE. Between the booming market for EVs and the availability of incentive funds to help pay for some or all of residential or commercial EV charger installation cost, there has never been a better time to invest in charging stations.
Luckily for property owners, a roadmap for the process of incorporating this technology into apartment complex garages and parking lots exists. In California, one of the leading states in the adoption of EV tech, the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative has published an in-depth recommendation report for building owners considering the installation of EVSE.
For more information, The Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Guidelines for multifamily buildings can be found on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.
Charging into a Greener Future
The importance of implementing lifestyle changes and making more sustainable choices on an individual level is indisputable. However, changes in infrastructure and energy systems need to match these choices to enable a smooth transition to e-Mobility.
As with any new technology, EV charging equipment can seem confusing at first. Luckily, programs and initiatives to equip apartment buildings with charging infrastructure exist and are already working to make EV charging easier for eco-minded renters and residents. The technology and business models necessary to support the integration of charging systems into multi-unit dwellings are developed and accessible - to learn more about the solutions that would work best at your property, contact our commercial sales team.
Enel X Way in North America has helped over 3,000 business customers spanning more than 10,000 sites find the best energy solutions for their properties, and we will work with you to help find available incentive funding and ensure that you find the best EV charging solutions for your property.
It is important to remember that investment in both EVs and EV charging infrastructure is not just an economic one; it is also an investment in your community’s transition to a cleaner transportation system. The most important return on this investment is the longevity and health of your community and our society as a whole.