When you run a business that is visited by customers who have come to you in their car there are ways to make more money from them, and indeed accumulate new customers, by letting them charge their electric vehicles on your site for free.
Electric vehicles and hybrids only account for a very small percentage of vehicles on the roads today but the number is going to increase considerably over the next few years as the government aims to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. Some MP’s are already saying that this is too long to wait, and the date should be brought forward to 2030. Whatever happens as regards that, the government is encouraging people to invest in electric vehicles by offering grants for the installation of EV charging points in the home and in the workplace.
The Office for Low Emission Vehicles is offering what is known as the OLEV Grant, specially named the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which is £500 towards the cost of a charging point. Additionally, in Scotland you can get up to a further £300 from the Energy Savings Trust Scotland. So a typical electric car charging points installation costing £999 can be obtained for £199, saving £800. When you run a business, you can obtain grants of as much as £10,000 towards the cost of installing charging points.
When you start to think about this from the point of view of a business, there are ways to make money from it. How many people drive to the supermarket to do their weekly shopping? Quite a few, wouldn’t you say? And if you run a supermarket and install lots of charging points which customers can use to charge their car for free, rather than paying for the electricity by charging at home, where are they likely to do their weekly shopping?
Bearing in mind that at the moment you can get very large grants for installing EV charging points added to the fact that more and more customers are going to be using them, offering free charging is going to encourage new customers to come to your store rather than another.
Then there is another factor. What about all those drivers who live in flats or in terraced houses in streets where there are no front gardens? They have to park in the street, and you can’t run electric cables across the pavement. There is talk of installing charging points in lamp-posts and there are actually a couple of hundred installed in one or two boroughs, but this would have to be rolled out on a huge scale.
Of course, if you are going to offer free charging you have to pay for the electricity, and this will depend on the power rating of the charger and the length of time taken to charge. If a 7kWh top up charger is used for an hour this will give a typical vehicle an additional 25 miles and cost the business 0.84p at a rate of 12p per kWh. With a 50kWh fast charger the same car would add 175 miles in an hour and cost £6.00.
Of course, nobody says that you have to provide free charging, although that is one way of doing it. You could offer charging at a nominal rate to cover the cost of the electricity. That way, other than the installation cost, there are no ongoing costs, and yet you still keep the customer on your premises for the same length of time. This is quite suitable for businesses whose customers need or want to charge their vehicle and are willing to pay something for the service.
Of course, there is another model that you could use and that is one where you make a profit on the charging. You will attract less customers this way, but if your customers have limited choice about where they can charge then they will still tend to visit your business.
There is even another possibility and that is that some installers and providers of chargers may offer to install free of charge and operate the chargers on a profit-making basis.
Certainly, it is going to be a few years before everyone is driving electric vehicles, but now is the time to consider how you can benefit.