By Regan Hartley
For several years, there was a lot of talk about the impending increases in the development, production and sales of electric vehicles (EV). The anticipation for the EV movement has finally come to an end, and it’s time for multifamily to prepare.
The activity surrounding EVs has transitioned from discussion to solid and pronounced action by consumers and automobile manufacturers. Much of this is bolstered by a rapid increase in consumer desire for affordability and sustainability in their personal transportation. More than ever, this is the time when the multifamily industry must act to meet the needs of its residents now and in the future.
The assertion that electric has become a force in the automobile industry is supported by the rising sales figures year over year. According to Green Car Reports, sales of PHEVs and EVs have more than doubled in 2021 from 2020 both globally and in the United States, and tripled from figures in 2019!
According to a study by YouGov for Forbes Wheels, more than 22% of respondents said they would consider a new or used EV, and 65% agreed that electric is the future of the automobile industry. Interest in moving to electric is also being fed by the volatility of fuel prices. A recent study by CNBC showed that the cost per 100 miles to fuel a gas vehicle is anywhere from two to four times more expensive than an EV vehicle, depending on where you live in the country.
Consumers are inevitably going to focus on what’s best for their finances, and they’re starting to realize that electric is the better choice when it comes to their cars. Aside from the fuel savings, there are tax incentives on EV purchases still available and many metropolitan areas allow EVs to travel in express lanes for no additional charge. These are the vehicles that people from all walks of life are seeking. They just make more sense.
One of the best examples of renewed enthusiasm is the announcement of the Ford F-150 Lightning. Ford announced the latest iteration of the wildly popular F-Series at the end of May 2021. After reaching their cap of 200,000 reservations on the base model in December 2021, Ford halted taking orders on the much-anticipated EV truck, which began rolling out in April.
The increases in sales and interest mean that people searching for multifamily housing are almost guaranteed to select a community that provides adequate charging capabilities for current and future EV owners. However, less than half of multifamily projects have EV chargers as part of their amenities, according to a recent study by JD Power, which doesn’t make economic sense when examining the benefits EV will bring and the cost to install today.
Nearly a quarter of states have already passed Right to Charge laws that require multifamily dwellings to provide charging stations for residents and more will likely follow. Numerous counties and municipalities are requiring new buildings to install infrastructure to plan for the expected increase in EV stations. It’s always more cost-effective to be ahead of the game instead of trying to play catch-up. Even existing structures currently have the option of EV charging stations that avoid costly infrastructure upgrades.
In addition to the reduced costs, there are other financial incentives to boost EV charging availability. Tax rebates are among the biggest reasons, and these types of savings rarely last forever. Multifamily communities that offer EV charging will also attract environmentally conscious tenants, who are more likely to be responsible and are willing to pay higher rent to be in sustainable housing. Nearly all consumers read online reviews now before making a major purchase. Any community that has five-star reviews praising the availability of EV chargers and sustainability will have a leg-up on competitors.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is corporate responsibility. Owners and operators have the chance to be at the forefront of change, instead of the inevitable reaction to it. Offering a reliable, seamless way for residents to power their vehicles not only makes financial sense for everyone, but it also future-proofs any community that has it.