Maintaining EV Charging Stations Uses Relatively Little Energy

January 26, 2016 By Indy Ratnathicam

Indy Ratnathicam

The push to cut carbon emissions and make states greener is a top priority for environmental advocates. An important part of the plan to cut carbon emissions is encouraging the spread of electric vehicles (EVs). Consumers today are increasingly looking toward EVs to increase their green efforts, take advantage of government incentives and save some money on gas. In fact, according to uscusa.org, electric cars can save drivers between $750 – $1,200 a year on fueling costs. However, as more people opt for EVs, we are starting to see a disproportionate car to charging station ratio in the parking lots of workplaces across the country.

Today, there is roughly one public charger for every 10 electric vehicles. Having too few of them is causing tensions to rise, particularly in corporate parking lots, where there is fierce competition among EV drivers who need a daily charge to make their commute home. Adding to the frustrations is the common practice amongst employees to leave their EVs charging for too long, thereby monopolizing the space. This doesn’t even account for gas-car driving employees who accidentally park in dedicated EV charging spots. With less charging stations guaranteed in corporate lots, more and more EV-drivers experience “range anxiety” – the fear of running out of juice with no charging station for miles.

The surprising truth is that these problems can be easily solved by companies for little cost.  FirstFuel recently found that the average cost to maintain 10 EV charging stations per year accounts for less than four percent of a commercial building’s annual energy spend. In fact, the cost of EV charging is so nominal, it is insignificant when looking at commercial buildings’ peak grid times. Low-cost financing can even eliminate initial capital hurdles to deploying the stations.

For the majority of the general public to consider purchasing an electric vehicle, they first want accessible public charge points located at or near places they frequent in their daily life. For this reason, it’s no wonder that major companies, such as LinkedIn, are investing in EV charging technologies to reduce the stress of their EV-driving employees.

LinkedIn recently integrated Freewire’s mobile EV charger, named Mobi Charger, into its corporate parking lot where it is able to charge an EV in as little as 30 minutes, and works with any plug (with the exception of Tesla). Powered by second-life EV car batteries, a single Mobi can charge up to five cars per day without companies having to go through the trouble of installing chargers and wiring their parking lots. The Mobi can also access the EVs no matter where they are parked on LinkedIn’s corporate campus, simply by entering their location on an app and having a Freewire attendant arrive with a Mobi charger for their car. Another company, Evernote, a California-based software company where electric vehicles outnumber chargers 60 to 12, installed ten charging stations and one fast charger to satisfy employees who want to plug-in their EVs at work.

LinkedIn and Evernote aren’t alone. According to hybridcars.com, more than 30 major companies in the US have committed to installing EV charging stations in at least one of their locations. Some of these companies include Facebook, Dell, Coca-Cola, National Grid and Hertz.

As more and more consumers invest in electric vehicles, companies should consider taking a note from LinkedIn or Evernote’s books and invest in EV charging technologies. Companies can find unique ways like Mobi to execute these efforts and make charging simple and easy. Not only will they appease EV-driving employees, they may also encourage new people to invest in the environmentally-friendly transportation mode. This means a happier, more productive and energy efficient workforce – all for little or no added expense.

Indy Ratnathicam VP of marketing and strategy with FirstFuel. Prior to joining FirstFuel, he was a Principal at The Boston Consulting Group, where he drove efforts to launch and grow businesses in energy, software, security and semiconductors with several Fortune 100 clients.  Through his work at BCG, Indy led teams that devised new technology strategies, developed IP portfolios, oversaw new acquisitions and re-aligned sales forces to optimize growth and capitalize new markets.  In addition, Indy has worked with a technology-based startup and a venture capital firm.

Indy holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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