I manage a business and people keep asking about EV (electric vehicle) charging, what are the best options?

Having EV (Electric Vehicle) chargers at your business is a superb way of bringing new and existing customers to your hotel, restaurant, Airbnb or facility whilst also increasing your green credentials and promoting a future to be proud of.

First of all just to be clear I’m completely impartial and am not getting paid for my recommendations.

Are they a good investment?

Having less fumes hit the faces of children as they walk to school is always worth the investment in my opinion.

By 2020 there should be over 250,000 EV owners in the UK, installing chargers encourages them to visit you more often and stay for longer, the shift to EVs is universally acknowledged as essential for our future.

You’re not going to make a direct profit from a charger but it will bring in new customers without you having to do much after installing. If you class the expense as part of your advertising budget then it can work extremely well as you should be featured on:

  • Various EV friendly hotel lists (circulated between owners)
  • In-car sat navs (e.g. in a Tesla, a car worth £50-£130k, you would be featured on the map that every owner sees every day)
  • Various forums
  • EV car owner Facebook groups (Tesla group alone has 1000 confirmed owners)
  • Magazines (less likely but we’ve seen it with some locations)
  • Comparison websites (once they catch up with demand and enable ‘sort by Electric Vehicle charging’) – you should be on the front page with a decent amount of reviews under your belt, an ideal way to be different to your competitors.

Word of mouth among EV owners is also very popular, I’m forever being asked for EV-friendly hotel recommendations and have seen hotels like The Scarlet in Newquay relish the opportunity with new customers paying a premium to stay at a hotel with 3 decent chargers installed.

How much will it cost to charge each car?

First thing to remember is most people will arrive with a battery that isn’t completely empty so you often can knock 25%-60% off the costs. Secondly Electric Cars cost around 1/4 the price of a fuel equivalent to ‘fill up’. The cost to charge will obviously depend on your electricity tariff, moving to a cheaper tariff often will offset any additional cost of charging customers cars (more about picking an electricity tariff below).
chargemaster
To fully charge a Tesla Model S (the car with the biggest battery in the UK) it would cost between £5-£13, this would give enough charge for 200-300 miles of range.

To fully charge a Nissan Leaf (the most popular EV in the UK) it would cost between £2-£5, giving enough charge for 80-110 miles.

Most other EVs will cost a similar amount to the Nissan Leaf to charge but as EVs increase in battery capacity they will get closer to the Tesla price.

A great way to offset this money is to install solar panels or a wind turbine (if you’ve got the space) and a battery system and you can then technically charge the cars for FREE + reduce your electricity bill for the rest of your business.

Can I charge customers for the electricity?

The short answer is sort of, you should ensure that your chargers are free to your paying guests only. Charging extra to your paying guests is very frowned upon in the industry and may give you negative press so be careful.

If you’ve spent a considerable amount of money installing a decent network of rapid chargers then a small charge would be fine but personally if it was my business I would consider asking for donations to a chosen charity instead (you may be able to offset some corporation tax with charity donations, check with your accountant).

Increasing the price of your hotel stays, restaurant food etc ever so slightly is probably the best method of funding the additional spend or as mentioned earlier consider it as an advertising budget spend.

If you have to charge for the electricity then you must not charge more than £10 for a charge and remember that is excessive for 80% of Electric Vehicles.

Where should they be located?

Often businesses install chargers in prime places outside the front of their property, often this is because it’s cheaper to install as less cabling may be required, the problem with this solution is these parking spots may get taken by non-electric cars. If possible place chargers in areas of the car park that are less likely to be used by your standard guests, please ensure there is ample lighting.

ice
The above image shows Bicester Village, they have 4 chargers but due to the location and poor signage they’re blocked by ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles.

Does the Government offer any grants for installing chargers?

Sort of, if you’re adding some chargers for staff only then you can get £300 for each charger you install, however, these cannot be used by the public (from what I’ve read.)

Is the future really electric?richard-hammond-tesla

According to Go Ultra Low, the UK is on target to meet a government forecast that all new cars and vans will be electrically-powered by 2040.

CarWow polled 1246 UK car owners and 62% of the respondents said that they believed all cars on the roads would be electric or hybrid by 2025.

Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, said: “The huge interest in electric vehicles and their subsequent rapid rise in uptake has been spectacular so far, with more than 60,000 EVs registered in the past five years (2010-2015). These rises are just the start of the electric revolution as Go Ultra Low analysis suggests that electric vehicles could dominate the new car market as early as 2027.”

Richard Hammond (ex-top gear presenter) said: “With a full charge costing less than a fiver and the car [a Tesla] attracting 0% [at the time] benefit-in-kind tax, it’s not as simple as a price tag. Expect over the next few years for Teslas to be a common sight on the road. Maybe even on the Hammond driveway.

With Electric Cars outperforming Petrol equivalents yet still being better for the Environment the cars are going mainstream with a whole bunch of people you may know moving to them including Steven Spielberg, Ben Affleck, Cameron Diaz, Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon & Zooey Deschanel. This is superb proof that Electric is better, because even with millions in the bank they would rather buy an EV. So considering that EVs actually are 1/4 the price to run compared to a Petrol equivalent it’s just a matter of time before we all are driving them and people are visiting your location.

What are the best chargers/connectors to install?

types-chargersThere are quite a few options, be careful you do not limit your charging by selecting just 1 connector type and basically the more you pay the better the charger is. The best idea is to speak to a local electrician to get an idea of what is possible.

Personally, if I was doing it for my business I’d install a minimum of 2 x Tesla Destination Chargers + 1 x ‘Type 2’ socketed charger.

Full charger options (click to expand):

If you installed 4-10 of these in your car park it would give EVs about 3-5 miles of charge for every hour. They’re cheap but not very quick, it’s the most basic of charging solutions.

Buy: Screwfix

Aim for 32amps for each charger, if possible go for a 3-phase if you have it. Often the cheapest solution and ideal for charging at fairly decent speeds however these are not the safest devices and generally wouldn’t be allowed in public access areas as if a child stuck a metal object in they would get a nasty shock.

You can make them safer by spending an extra £40-£60 by buying a unit that is Interlocked, this reduces the risk of arcing when pulling out a live cable + may have a lock on it.

Buy: Screwfix

Much safer than a Commando socket, aim for 32amps if you can, if you’ve got 3-phase then get a 3-phase version.

The choice is rather good these days, ABL, Rolec, Chargemaster, PodPoint all make decent chargers.

Personally, I’d go for an ABL unit (pictured).

Should I go tethered or untethered?

Tethered = A cable permanently attached to the charge box, so there is no need to pull your cable out of your boot/trunk each time you arrive home. Type 2 only, so any other non-type 2 cars can’t charge (e.g a Nissan Leaf couldn’t use it).

Untethered = A socket that you plug a Type 2 cable into, allows for more charging options but does mean you have to physically plug in the cable every time you want to charge as you technically shouldn’t leave a charge cable permanently plugged in as it may allow water to enter (over time). Fine in the summer but can be a right pain in the wet, snow or cold weather when you’re trying to man handle a dirty cable into your boot. You will also need to buy a type 2 cable as the Teslas now don’t come with one.

tesla-charger

Apply for FREE units (just pay for installation). The best-looking charger in my opinion, if Tesla won’t offer you a free one then I’d still buy a couple (contact Tesla UK to buy).

Although these have ‘Tesla’ written all over them, they actually will charge any electric car with a ‘Type 2’ connection, I’d recommend grabbing 2 of these + installing a Type 2 socket version (above photo).

rapid

If you really want to impress EV owners and massively increase your footfall then consider a Rapid Charger or Tesla Supercharger, your location would become a big destination if there isn’t other rapid chargers nearby.

The only problem is the cost (around £20,000-£30,000 + installation costs of £5,000-£10,000) and getting enough power to the units. Places like Welcome Break are installing both Rapid Chargers and Tesla Superchargers at many of their service stations because they see the future of us all driving EVs for our A-to-B trips. Motorway services are perfect location for Rapid chargers but there is also a great need for them in town, city and even rural locations, for instance Milton Keynes (where I live) has 50 Rapid chargers installed at shopping centres, housing estates and car-parks, this brings in people from across the country to spend money in local shops.

A twin (2 x 60kW) Tesla supercharger would probably set you back £80,000+ unless you could sweet talk Tesla into installing one for free if you cover the cost of the electricity.

What signage should be placed alongside the chargers?

Clear signage is best as this prevents your investments becoming blocked by other cars and/or causing your staff issues. A sign that reads “Space reserved for Electric Vehicle Charging Only” or similar is best, most EV owners will move their car once charged but some may not so a clear message is needed. Of course, if you have 3+ chargers there is no need to stop parking.

If you only have 1 or 2 chargers then placing a no parking sign is probably best like this Tesla example (note the Tesla charger is a supercharger and is much larger than a normal charger).

Where will my business be talked about if we install?

“If they build it they will come” – EV owners are always looking for new places to visit and charge, get your chargers posted on sites like:

Consider speak with owners (on social media / forums etc) and offer a discounted/free meal/stay etc for the first few customers to try them out + to spread the word.

Who should I get to install it?

It often will depend on your location and which charger you plan to get installed, most of the manufacturers will recommend a local installer for you, it’s worth searching social media to check their reviews though as some are much better than others.

What else can I do to improve my green credentials?

  • Move your whole electric bill to a fully renewable tariff
  • Install Renewable Electricity Generation (think Solar, Wind etc)