As a result, businesses all over the world are adapting to this new reality in some shape or form and many are looking into the possibilities of commercial EV charging. Of course, there is no one way of going about it; some electrify their fleets to become more sustainable, others offer EV charging facilities to satisfy their EV-driving employees, and others leverage EV charging to increase their revenue directly, or to simply attract new customers.
But no matter how your business aims to use commercial EV charging stations in the future, there is a lot to consider before investing. As EV charging stations come in many different shapes and sizes, it’s easy to get lost or overwhelmed. Where should you start?
This article is written to help you understand what your business should ask itself to identify which EV charger and functionalities match the needs of your business best.
How to know which commercial electric car charging station fits your business’ needs best?
Simply going for the fastest or even most advanced charging station is not necessarily the right fit for your business. To find the right EV charging station for your business, it’s best to look at the needs and wants of your business first, and take it from there.
Develop a future-proof EV strategy for your business
EV charging can be leveraged in many different ways. For lots of businesses, having an EV charging strategy is an incremental part of their future operations, while for others, EV charging is an innovative—yet, additional—way of increasing revenue and growing their business.
The good news is that there are EV charging solutions for every type of business. So, how do you know which solution is right for your organization? To help put things in perspective, we’ve listed seven must-ask questions.
1. How important is the speed of your commercial EV charger?
The charging speed you would like to offer should match the needs and offering of your business, and these can differ greatly. To illustrate this point, we’ve listed a few EV charging business model examples below.
EV driving employees love to be able to charge their vehicles while they work, and who wouldn’t? It’s super convenient; drive to the office, park, get some work done, and drive home with a full battery.
But how important is the charging speed in this case?
A typical workday of around 8 hours is typically more than enough time for charging stations to refill the battery of most vehicles. So, in this case, it would make more sense to invest in Level 2 charging stations, instead of going for high-powered fast-charging stations that are capable of charging vehicles within minutes.
If your business operates a fleet that affects the success of your daily operations directly, such as transportation or last-mile delivery companies, charging speed will probably rank a lot higher on the priority list. You want to have those batteries charged quickly so that your vehicles can keep moving at all times. In this case, fast-charging stations will help minimize vehicle downtime and avoid any potential revenue loss. However, if your fleet can make their daily rounds on a single charge and can charge overnight, this reasoning changes completely.
Hotels and fine-dining restaurants are designed for guests to enjoy their time and take it easy. You can imagine that the ideal EV charger for a hospitality business doesn’t have to deliver ultra-fast charging speeds. In fact, a guest waiting for their car to be fully charged might just order that extra cup of coffee or decide to stay for dessert.
On the other hand, establishments located near high-ways or fast-food restaurants could use fast-charging stations to attract customers who are looking to top-off their batteries mid-route. A fast-charging break can be a great opportunity to have a double cheeseburger and some fries before hitting the road again.
Shopping malls or big warehouses can use the time it takes to charge to increase the time customers spend at their location. While supermarkets and convenience stores can attract customers by offering an ultra-fast top-off while they shop for weekly groceries.
Of course, these are just a few examples, the bottom line is that commercial charging stations can deliver different speeds, and the one your business should opt for should be aligned with your business strategy.
2. Do you want to set EV charging fees?
More and more businesses are seizing the opportunity to use EV charging stations as a way to increase revenue. Think of it like this, your parking lot used to be a space for your customers and visitors to park their car while they visit your establishment. Now, electric mobility creates new options for you to monetize that space and grow your business.
On the other hand, businesses such as retail and hospitality locations can choose to offer charging as a service (or set lower fees and tariffs) to increase the time customers spend at their establishment and, in doing so, have more upselling opportunities. You could, of course, also offer EV charging as a complementary service. Charging at the workplace, for example, offers a convenience that boosts employee satisfaction and can even help attract talent.
3. How will your charging needs evolve in the future?
The amount of people transitioning to electric mobility has grown tremendously over the last few years. When the odd-colleague or acquaintance drove electric five years ago, EVs were still more of a rare sight. Today, electric cars are everywhere. During the next decade, the switch to electric mobility will only grow further and more rapidly. So, when considering investing in commercial charging stations it’s important to think about the long run.
As the technology continues to evolve, so will the needs of drivers. An acceptable charging time today may become unacceptable in a few years. As technological developments are enhancing electric cars and their batteries, it is important to think about scalability from the get-go.
Maybe you could offer a slower charging speed today but have the ability to expand it when needed. Or, perhaps you want to start off with one charger but already think about where to place additional charges in the future.
4. Do you need a charging management system?
Many businesses view EV charging stations as a tool. A piece of necessary hardware that you need to charge an electric car. However, most EV charging stations are a lot more advanced than that. By connecting your stations to a proper software management system your business can benefit greatly.
For example, you can get unique insights into the charging behavior of drivers, control card or fee management, and optimize energy efficiency to reduce cost. To do this, you need a suitable charging management system to connect your EV charging stations with. We of course have our own, but what’s really important for your business is to opt for a charging station and software system that is OCPP compliant.
What is OCPP?
OCPP is an open-source communication standard for both electric car charging stations and software systems. The abbreviation stands for ‘Open Charge Point Protocol’. In layman’s terms this means that when stations and software are OCPP-compliant, they can connect, even if they’re created by different companies.
Why is OCPP important?
Many EV charging station production companies want to connect their customers to their software too. And, this is completely logical. Next to the obvious business perspective of the manufacturer, the customer often benefits from this set-up as well. After all, hardware and software from the same company are made for each other.
Still, investing in hardware that can only work with the manufacturer's software (or vice-versa) will limit your options drastically. What if you want to connect your stations to an existing software system already in place, or what if you want to switch to a more efficient system in the future? OCPP-compliance doesn’t prevent you from working with the manufacturer’s software, but it gives you the freedom to choose should you need to adapt to whatever situation arises in the future.
5. What are the requirements or limitations of your specific location?
After figuring out which type of EV charging station would be ideal for your business, and how many you aim to install, it’s important to consider the possibilities and limitations of your location.
Depending on your situation, site owners and/or local authorities might have to be involved regarding matters such as for example, permits and zoning requirements. No matter the type of charging stations you want to install, it is always a good idea to see if there are any potential stakeholders that need to be involved, and, if so, involve them early on in the process to avoid any additional costs or delays.
If you operate multiple sites, it’s best to treat each location as a separate project and map out the possibilities and specific requirements separately.
Investing in EV charging stations can be a hefty investment, so it’s a good idea to consider what happens after the purchase. Of course, you expect your charging stations to be operational at all times and you want to optimize the lifespan to protect (or even increase) your ROI.
So when investing in charging stations, check what the standard warranty is (and find out if you can extend it). But besides the warranty, there could be other ways to optimize the performance and lifespan of your charging stations. In some cases, EV charging station companies have a complete care plan available. If this isn't the case, it's advisable to see if any other additional services –such as, for example, commissioning , support, and maintenance– are offered.
The switch to electric mobility is inevitable, and businesses all over the world will adapt their operations to thrive in a new and more sustainable tomorrow. If your business is thinking about placing commercial EV charging stations in the near future, it is advisable to invest in a charging solution that works best for your business and will set you up for the long run.