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By Loren McDonald
Electric Vehicle Analyst/Speaker

The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and away from gas- and diesel-powered cars is well underway and has moved from a question of  “If?” to “When?”

This shift is most prominent in California, where sales of electric vehicles accounted for 8% of all new passenger car and truck sales in 2018 and 50% of all US EV sales. In the 4th quarter of 2018, EV sales averaged 10% of all new vehicle sales in California and should reach or surpass that level for the entire year 2019.

By 2022 I forecast that one-third of all new passenger vehicle sales in California will be electric. These include both plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) like the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Fusion Energi and fully battery electric (BEVs) like the Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model 3 and Nissan LEAF. (View list of all EVs currently available in the US.)

(NOTE: THis chart needs to be updated to reflect final 2018 numbers)

For the lodging industry, the growth of electric vehicles provide both challenges and opportunities to ownership and management. As ownership of EVs increases and the average range of pure electric vehicles closes in on 300 miles, your EV-driving guests will be taking more road trips and increasingly expect that you offer several available charging stations on your property.

Often referred to as “destination charging,” EV drivers simply plug in to your available charging stations upon arrival or late at night when their local excursion trips are complete. With perhaps 8-12 hours to charge while their car sits overnight, what is known as Level 2 charging (e.g., 240V such as what a washing machine uses) is adequate and actually ideal for your EV-driving guests.

Benefits of Adding Destination Charging Stations

As adoption of electric vehicles increases, adding them to your property offers benefits to both you and your guests, included:

  • Affluent, socially-aware customers: Current early-adopting buyers of electric vehicles tend have higher incomes than non-EV drivers and so with EV charging stations you can better attract desirable guests who may spend more on upgrades, meals and services and amenities.
  • Referrals/Repeat Business: Word-of-mouth is critical to your business and when EV drivers have a great experience at your facility and benefit from your charging stations they will most likely put you at the top of their list for future stays in the area and will also be more likely to share their experiences on social media with other EV drivers.
  • Listed on Google Maps and Charger App Maps: If a prospective guest searches for charging stations using Google Maps or a EV charging app like PlugShare, your location will show up and searchers can click the “pin drop” for additional information. Additionally, if you install a Tesla Destination Charger, you will show up on the Tesla map.
  • Sustainability/“Green” Image: Having EV charging stations positions your lodging facilities as being both green and on the leading edge. And while being considered a green facility may not be important for all of your guests, EV charging stations may introduce you to a new environmentally conscious audience and make your facilities a preferred option for many.
  • Competitive Differentiation and Advantage: What sets your hotel or lodging facility apart from the competition? Location, amenities, view, food, and other factors are obviously most important but offering up EV charging options is one more way to set you apart from your prime competitors who do not offer charging.

Is It Time To Add EV Charging Stations?

If you are an owner or manager of a hotel, resort or a bed-and-breakfast the question now is not if you should install EV charging stations but “When?,” “How many?,” and “What Type?” From personal experience I can attest that as an EV driver the first thing I now look for when I research lodging destinations is to see if they have EV charging stations and if so how many and what type?

If you are trying to determining if installing EV charging stations is in fact important to your business and guests, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Actively monitor and track the number and type of electric vehicles including both plug-in hybrid and pure battery electric that your guests are driving. In particular, track how quickly the percentages and types of EVs are changing over time.
  • Use your guest management system to take notes during the reservation process. Do guests – whether they currently drive an EV or not – ask about availability or your plans to add EV chargers at your location?
  • What are the demographics and psychographics of your typical guests? Are they tech-savvy, early-adopters or sports and outdoors truck campers who drive a Jeep Wrangler or Ford F-150? Understanding the profile of your guests will help determine how critical it will be to add charging stations in the near or longer-term.
  • Conduct a simple audit of your competitors. Visit competitors’ websites to see if they mention that they offer EV charging stations, and of what type. For those that do have EV charging stations, take a quick site visit to see where they are located, if they are working, are EVs plugged in or are gas-powered cars improperly using the parking spaces? Are these charging stations located prominently in or near the front of your competitor’s location or installed off in hard to find corner?
  • Search the area using Google Maps and PlugShare to see how many public charging stations are available within an appropriate range of say 5 to 15 miles of your location (depending on the density of the area and number of other lodging options).
  • Also check out the the Tesla Destination Charging and Supercharger maps to see if there are nearby Tesla compatible charging stations.

Today you  might not be seeing a measurable impact on occupancy if you don’t offer EV charging, but you also may not be aware of how many guests chose competing lodging options. In the next year or so, depending on your location and guest demographics, you could find your property at a significant competitive disadvantage versus other nearby lodging options that do offer access to charging stations.

Want to learn more about the different options, electric requirements, costs, and available incentives for installing EV charging stations? Reach out to Steve Wilson at Power Island Energy for a free consultation.

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