Car-charging opportunities power up

As electric vehicle ownership rises, supporting infrastructure, such as widely available charging stations, will have to catch up. But what does this mean for businesses in other industries?
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The global market for electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to increase fourfold between 2020 and 2026, with a forecasted value of around $1 trillion. Certain countries are ahead when it comes to adopting EVs, helped by having the supporting infrastructure to sustain the demand. 

Norway has the highest proportion of EVs as a percentage of overall vehicle ownership, with other Nordic countries also pretty high on the list. Of all new EVs sold worldwide, China accounts for more than half – more than double what was predicted at the start of 2021. Tesla's revenue alone grew by 71% between 2020 and 2021.

A growing number of EVs on the road will impact urban planners, road and motorway planning and ancillary services for car owners. The key difference between EVs and regular cars is, of course, the charging element. Depending on the type of EV you own and its battery power, charging one can take any amount of time between 30 minutes and eight hours. And, whereas a driver is actively involved in the process of filling up at a gas station, charging a car just requires a driver to plug it in and wait. That leaves a lot of dead time to fill while the driver is waiting. 

This opens up opportunities for businesses to fill that time – both those that might have traditionally been involved in helping drivers reach their destinations and some unexpected businesses. Here are some predictions for how charging stations and public plug-in facilities will change the culture of driving and parking. 

• Food hospitality. EV charging points could become a feature of food service businesses, especially those with parking facilities. ChargeNet, a brand developing EV charging infrastructure, is installing chargers at Taco Bell restaurant sites, which keeps the fast-food chain's customers sticking around for longer as well. 

• Gyms and fitness facilities. Architect James Silvester won an EV charging station design competition hosted by news platform Electric Autonomy Canada, which looked to challenge what the future of an EV charging station could look like. His mockup included gym facilities, which people can use for as long as they need to fill time before their cars are charged and ready to go. 

• Beauty and wellness services. Similar to gym and fitness centers, beauty services cover a wide spectrum of businesses that take different lengths of time. So, an EV owner could settle down for a number of services depending on how long they need to wait for their car to charge: a quick threading or laser appointment, a mid-length manicure or pedicure, or a longer spa or massage treatment. 

• Malls. Shoppers in the US log 1.5 billion visits to malls every month, with more than half reporting that they visited one in the last month. The average time spent in a mall is two hours and 15 minutes, according to a survey carried out by the International Council of Shopping Centers. Since malls usually contain a mix of retail, hospitality and entertainment businesses – such as bowling alleys, cinemas and spas – there are various ways an EV owner can fill time. 

• Workplace charging programs. Workplaces can incentivize people to buy EVs through sponsored schemes and access to onsite plug-in facilities. Employees could, for instance, earn points or discounts based on their usage of an EV. Workplaces that don't have access to parking areas can support employees to make the transition to an EV by subsidizing the cost of installing a home charging station. 

A version of this article was first published in Courier issue 47, June/July 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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