It’s time to plug your retail store into customer-pleasing opportunities.

Key Takeaways:

  • EV ownership is quickly expanding
  • Adding charging stations could make retailers more attractive
  • This requires some key planning and electrical considerations

Retailers must give customers what they want, and they want electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Early adoption can drive growth for your store while also improving the customer experience. It carries logistical challenges, but also provides opportunities. We’ve created this guide to help retailers assess possibilities and capitalize on its potential.

The rising trend of EVs and potential retail impact

The growing popularity of EVs is fueled by shifting consumer attitudes and dedicated government programs. Millions of Americans drive EVs, and experts forecast healthy growth over the next six years. America has over 160,000 charging stations; a sizable number, but there’s room to grow. The U.S. will need over 2 million stations by 2030 to meet demand.

Retailers’ biggest implication is that pressing need for more EV charging stations. Installing them on your site could attract and retain customers who might consider shopping with you while they charge.

Planning and implementing EV charging infrastructure

Let’s address several points, all of which require the help of an experienced electrical contractor:

  • Project scaling: This is where you decide how many chargers you want, how they’ll be funded, and when you’d like them ready for use.
  • Utility Plans: This step covers coordinating with local utility providers and assessing grid infrastructure for power availability to your site.
  • Operational Cost Projection: This outlines what retailers can realistically expect for commercial electricity pricing, costs during peak usage, and long-term maintenance expenses.

The next consideration is the type of charger design(s) to buy. 

Type(s) of EV chargers

EV chargers rank from Level 1 to Level 3. Levels 1 and 2 use alternating current (AC); Level 3 uses direct current fast chargers (DCFCs). It’s very unlikely you’ll see Level 1 chargers at retail sites.

Level 2 AC chargers installed in commercial settings can charge an EV to 80% in as little as four hours. These provide power using J1772 208V circuits with a charging limit of around 19kW. They also come with or without charging cables.

Level 3 DCFCs are the fastest EV refuelers. These send DC straight into the EV’s battery more quickly than having the vehicle’s onboard charger make the AC to DC conversion. Level 3s have a voltage range of 400-1000V and can reach power outputs of 350kW.

Powering your charging stations

Powering EV chargers may require upgrading your site’s electrical supply. Sometimes, the company installing the EVs can do this. In other cases, they may enlist electrical contractors and the local utility company. Careful collaboration may take time, but will prevent cost overruns and delays.

Overcoming logistical challenges

Accessibility is central to successfully integrating EV chargers into existing retail infrastructure. Users must be a safe distance from other vehicles. Chargers should also have sufficient surrounding space for retail foot traffic flow. Working with an experienced electrical contractor will help you optimize and maximize available space.

Security is also important. EV drivers walk away from their vehicles as they charge, sometimes for extended periods. This has triggered theft of charging cables from some EVs at public stations.

Position your chargers where security systems and personnel can clearly see them, preferably in a well-lit location. Retailers may have to install new cameras and/or lighting to create safer environments.

Maximizing business opportunities with EV charging stations

Installing EV chargers could induce more people to use your site’s power, but will they shop at your store? They might if you market and leverage EV charging services!

Some retailers offer vouchers, coupons, or other promotional offers for charging. Others use loyalty programs with reward points or offer free charges for regular customers. Promoting chargers on social media can generate interest and attract new customers.

Entice charging as an enhancement to the overall customer experience, increasing shoppers’ dwell time while their vehicle powers up. An EVgo study showed adding chargers can increase revenue, with 80% of their consumers shopping wherever their vehicle charges.

Stay ahead of regulations and incentives

Regulations and incentives impact the installation of EV charging stations in retail spaces. For example, the NEVI Formula Program is a government initiative which helps states fund EV charging infrastructure.

This includes required standards intended for state and local authorities rather than retailers directly. Knowing them can help your store can offer high-quality EV charging that meets government expectations. 

The EV Charging Minimum Standards Rule requires that chargers provide a reliable flow of electricity convenient for drivers use without requiring accounts, apps, or other systems that may make access more complicated.

Retailers should review NEVI’s rules to understand proper EV charging structures. Check in regularly with the U.S. Department of Transportation website to stay compliant with evolving EV policies.

A 30% federal tax credit of up to $100,000 could be available to qualifying businesses which add EV chargers until December 31, 2032. You can learn more here about other financial aid programs developing in line with expanding EV infrastructure.

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Embracing EV owners by installing charging stations can help your site adapt to tomorrow’s driving landscape. It’s a strategic futureproofing of your business that keeps you relevant to a growing demographic and represents a win-win for retailers and shoppers by offering greater convenience for customers and better potential profit for store owners.

UES is embracing this development, so stay connected with us to learn more. Call 954-792-5444 or use our contact form to ask for electrical expertise and get a free quote!