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How to make money with EV charging stations

May 10, 2021 | Sam Bourne

Getting EV charging today is about more than just preparing your location for this shift in transportation—it’s also a clearcut path to attracting more customers and generating more profit. Below are a few examples of how adding public EV charging can make your existing business more profitable, as well as become a revenue stream all on its own.

How to boost customer spend with EV charging 

In today’s competitive landscape, businesses must think of creative ways to attract customers while also boosting the value of each transaction. Transforming your location into an EV charging destination is one of the simplest ways to do just that

 Increase the time customers spend at your location 

Once EV drivers stop to charge, there is an obvious cross-selling opportunity for add-on products and services. Whether it’s a rideshare driver recharging during a lunch break or a little league coach topping off his battery while getting snacks for the team, if you install charging stations, EV drivers will spend more time at your location.

Depending on the type of charger you choose, EVs can take anywhere from 20 minutes to six hours to charge (depending on battery size). For shops, restaurants, or gas stations, a fast (DC) charging solution is an ideal choice, charging even the largest EV batteries up to full in under an hour. However, since most EVs coming to your location aren’t looking to charge from 0-100 percent, a standard Level 2 (AC) charging solution can also suit most driver needs, allowing them to add ~25 miles of range per hour. In many cases, a mix of AC and DC charging stations is the best solution.

Either way, by offering your customers a convenient charging experience, you also encourage them to spend time, and money at your location while they wait. 

 Attract loyal customers that are more valuable 

A study looking into the usage of EVs found that EV drivers are more than twice as wealthy as the average American, with a median household income of over $150,000. With more disposable income than gas-car drivers, your EV-driving customers will not only spend more time at your location but also purchase higher-end goods and services every time they visit. Plus, these drivers are likely to turn into loyal, repeat customers once they know your business offers this valuable service.

Roughly half of Americans aren’t confident about finding EV charging when they need it, yet still, 40 percent still say they are considering an EV for their next car. Locking in your location now as one of the places that provides this amenity could turn your business into an often-frequented EV charging oasis.

 Instantly enhance your reputation 

EV charging stations also put your business on the map—literally. Popular navigation sites like Google Maps or Waze, and dedicated charging apps such as PlugShare feature interactive maps that enable drivers to locate nearby public charging stations. By having charging stations at your site, you can boost your brand visibility on these platforms and attract new customers. 

Plus, with customized charging stations that display your brand colors or logo, you can dramatically improve your corporate image by letting everyone who sees them know that your organization is openly committed to a more sustainable future.

Environmental concerns are increasingly top-of-mind for your customers. By having charging stations on your property, you can establish your business as an eco-conscious organization—and even earn some prestigious sustainability certifications for your location (LEED, GBB, WELL).

How to generate consistent revenue from EV charging

Attracting new customers, earning brand loyalty, and increasing time (and money) spent at your location are all excellent examples of how EV charging can drive profitability. But the most obvious way EV charging can boost profits is the revenue earned from the stations themselves. Depending on the business model you choose, you can generate additional income by setting charging fees, and your customers will be more than happy to pay them. 

There are a few primary ways you can structure pricing on your charging stations—it really depends on what you want to get out of your setup. You can also test out different strategies any time you want. By having an overview of your stations’ pricing and energy usage via your charging management platform, making adjustments to your setup is as easy as updating a few settings. 

 Earn money by setting charging fees for your customers and visitors 

Before you can start earning revenue from your charging stations, the first thing you need to figure out is how you want to bill for charging. As the charging station owner, you can set your own charging fees and adjust them at any time. This may include a fixed session start or connection fee and a variable rate for the energy used. 

One common practice is to charge by the amount of energy being used (i.e., $0.10/kWh). You also have the freedom to define your own mark-up (i.e., $0.35/kWh). So, if a car pulls up and needs to charge 25 kWh, that’d be: 

25 kWh x $0.45/kWh = $11.25. 

US Gross Revenue per charging session

If you’d rather set a fee based on time, you can implement a flat hourly rate (i.e., $2.25/hour). So, if the station is charging at 7.4 kW, and the car needs 25 kWh to recharge: 

25 kWh / 7.4kW = ~3.5 hours. 

From there, just multiply the time plugged in by your hourly rate to get the estimated revenue:

~3.5 hours x $2.25/hour = ~$7.85 total.

Some sites combine the two forms of charging. For example: $0.45/kWh + $0.30/hour. This helps to reduce their hourly rate while still ensuring guests don’t “camp out” in a spot when their car is fully recharged. 

It’s important to note that consumers expect different energy prices depending on the type of charging your stations offer. Commercial AC charging tends to be cheaper and can take around four to six hours to fully charge a vehicle, depending on the model. DC charging prices are typically higher, as fast charging allows drivers to spend less time plugged in (usually between 15 minutes to an hour). 

The amount of revenue you can earn also depends on your location type and how often your stations are utilized. At hotels, for example, guests typically park for eight to 12 hours overnight while they sleep. In this scenario, AC charging stations would be the ideal investment.

At rest stops or gas stations, on the other hand, customers usually park for 15-30 minutes while grabbing a snack or coffee. In this scenario, DC fast-charging stations would be appropriate, with a quick enough turnaround time to allow all your customers to charge quickly and get back on the road. You can see a breakdown of some other common scenarios and the estimated revenue of each below.

US Revenue Potential

You can also make individual agreements with your customers about their charging rates. For example, you could use a blanket strategy where everyone pays the same rate or a stratified approach where some guests pay less than others (i.e., discounted EV charging for rewards members). If you’re interested, you can take a look at some of the most common business models used at locations like yours.

From cross-selling opportunities to generating its own revenue, EV charging is a great way to bring in some new business—and it’s only going to get bigger. 

Want to know how to build the right EV charging solution?

Learn everything you need to know to turn your location into a premium EV charging destination by downloading our free ebook.

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