High Demand for EVs Means a High Demand for Charging Stations

by Eric Roseman

For electric vehicle (EV) owners, charging availability can sometimes be challenging. The first person to receive delivery of the new Ford F150 Lightning took a camping trip as soon as he left the lot. The only problem he encountered on his outing, he told NPR, was finding a place to charge.

The sales and interest of EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) has skyrocketed to new heights over the last two years and the trend is continuing into 2022. According to a new survey from Consumer Reports in 2022, thirty-six percent of Americans said that they are at least seriously considering buying or leasing a new all-electric vehicle soon. In the United States, over 5% of new car sales are now all-electric, which hits a major global benchmark indicating a mass market shift. A perfect storm of increasing availability, better affordability, intensifying environmentalism and record-high gas prices have placed EVs at the forefront for a larger number of car buyers.

It’s inevitable that multifamily residents will be among those EV buyers. Millennials and GenZ are the most environmentally-conscious segments of the U.S. population. They’re also the ones most likely to rent. The post-pandemic urban revival is being driven by GenZ renters, who were the only group that saw an increase in rental applications in 2021. Environmental concerns are also growing among Gen X and Boomers.

Right now, a vast majority of EV charging happens with privately installed at-home chargers. 34.6% of Americans are renters however, and the majority don’t have access to a dedicated parking spot. Multifamily owners and operators agree that it’s imperative that multifamily communities examine the availability of charging stations they offer if they hope to remain competitive. According to industry veteran Stephanie Fuhrman of Catalyst Housing Group, “Any community that doesn’t have a plan for installing charging stations or started the process of installation could find itself behind the curve.”

EV sales continue record pace as interest grows

The EV industry broke the 300,000 annual sales mark in 2018, where sales hovered for about three years, mainly due to pandemic-related factors. As the country emerged from COVID restrictions in 2021, the sales and interest in EV and PHEV exploded, breaking the 600,000 sales mark, more than triple pre-2018 levels. Sales for 2022 are on pace to hit nearly 900,000.

In the first quarter of 2022, registrations for all types of new vehicles was down 18% compared to 2021. However, that was not the case with registrations on new EVs, which actually increased by 60%. Sales estimates for the first quarter of this year show EV sales at more than 208,000.

Tesla remains the leader in EV sales with all four models in the top 12 for sales in 2021, including first and second place. While the most affordable EV pricing starts at $31,000, that’s soon to change as manufacturers like GM and Honda are gearing up to introduce models under $30,000 in the next few years. Higher influx of EVs in the marketplace will also flood the secondary market at the same time, providing more options for a wide range of incomes.

EV charging availability increasing but owners prefer to charge at home

The United States currently has around 42,000 charging stations that carry a total of about 125,000 ports. Numerous retail, restaurant and convenience locations are increasing the availability of charging stations in a bid to attract consumers. However, that’s not where consumers actually want to charge their vehicles. 

About 80% of EV owners prefer dedicated charging at their homes, according to a 2021 study by JD Power, followed by work and retail locations. Charging rates are also important when it comes to charging station selection, and rates can vary wildly depending on location. Even with that variance, the cost per 100 miles to operate an EV is significantly less than a gas-powered vehicle. Depending on the location in the country, it can cost two to three times more for a gas vehicle.

The Biden administration recently announced plans to establish a nationwide network of charging stations to make charging easier. For communities that install EV charging stations, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is considering lowering annual premiums on its Green Mortgage Insurance, a program that offers reduced premiums for companies with one or more green buildings that have an ENERGY STAR rating of at least 75. The Department of Energy is exploring financial incentives for multifamily developers to spur installation.

Charging spaces in multifamily will need to increase

There are more than 22 million apartment units housing 39 million people in the United States and just over 400,000 units slated to be completed in 2022. Several municipalities and states are passing Right to Charge legislation and regulations, part of which will require multifamily communities to have as much as 20% of their spaces with charging capability.

There’s also a snowball effect when it comes to charging availability and EV sales. As charging becomes more widespread, more people will consider purchasing EVs, which in turn requires more charging stations. If the current plans by the federal government come to fruition and sales continue on their current trajectory, multifamily will face an inescapable need to increase charging station availability in the very near future. Any individual community that fails to provide adequate accessibility for its residents will lose lease conversions to those who were aware of the coming high demand.

The highly competitive leasing market, the uncertain future of fossil fuels and the overwhelming surge in EV ownership is the culmination of market factors that’s making an EV charging plan absolutely necessary for today’s multifamily communities.

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