By Matthew Livesay
The History of Refueling in the US
When internal combustion engine (ICE) automobiles were first adopted in the United States in the 1910s and 1920s, the process of refueling a car was far more odd and complicated than those of us who drive today are accustomed to. For example, drivers would typically need to purchase canned gasoline from places like pharmacies or blacksmith shops and do the refueling themselves. There were some curbside gas pumps which drivers could also use, but the opening of the first refueling station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1913 quite decisively changed the game. From this point on, drivers could rely upon a growing national network of something akin to modern gasoline stations.
But this presented a unique challenge since there was not a uniform standard for the gasoline sold. The fuels at each of these stations varied widely in terms of quality and composition, with inconsistent levels of octane and other chemicals such as methanol, ethanol, lead, and more. This could be properly characterized as a “wild west” situation and the industry improved and evolved over time, especially after the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970 which introduced more stringent fuel standards to improve air quality. Today, the gasoline used to power our vehicles is much cleaner and more consistent, with all lead in fuels for on-road vehicles being fully banned by the EPA in 1996 and more uniform octane and ethanol content standards being enacted nationally.
Because of these improvements over the course of decades, drivers of ICE vehicles today know what to expect when they pull up to a gas station, but the drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) may notice that the state of the EV charging industry still feels very much like the early days of gasoline refueling a century ago. For all of the advantages electric vehicles present compared to ICE vehicles, of which there are many, the state of the charging system is still quite fragmented and disorganized due to the industry’s relative youth. As more electric vehicles hit the road and the charging system grows nationally, many of the issues that EV drivers are currently facing will be adequately solved, but there is reason to believe that the future of EV “refueling” will look quite different than the past.
The Future Landscape of EV Charging
One main difference between gasoline refueling and EV charging is while gasoline is a dense liquid that needs to be physically transported and is most efficiently distributed at concentrated hubs such as stations along busy roads and highways, EVs can be charged at just about any location with an electrical connection. In other words, EV drivers will not need to rely on roadside stations to get their fuel and can instead recharge at their homes, workplaces, favorite retail establishments, hotels, and many other types of locations even including traditional gas stations. The flexibility of charging options offered to EV drivers is a complete paradigm shift and something drivers of ICE vehicles never could have imagined when evaluating where to refuel. Because of this vastly expanded array of options, the opportunity for property owners to add EV charging stations for a variety of use-cases is also quite enticing.
For example, the owner of an office building can now add EV charging stations purely as an amenity for employees who drive EVs, to future-proof the property and parking lot, or to add another income stream for the property’s investors. When using a smart network provider like AmpUp, station operators can set rules around who can access the charging stations and when, meaning employees could be given exclusive access during working hours while the stations could be made accessible to all drivers after 5:00 PM each weekday and on weekends. This setup would provide a tangible benefit to employees while also granting the office the flexibility to operate as a gas station of the future when the property is otherwise vacant. This can allow the building’s owners to utilize this asset in a more flexible way while also equipping the property to thrive in the more hybrid-focused work environment of the future.
EV charging could also offer businesses such as restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, movie theaters, golf courses, bookstores, bowling alleys, and many others an additional way to attract customers and encourage them to stay on premises while their vehicle charges. For those looking to install chargers as a standalone business model, utilization will be the most important variable in determining healthy profitability and ROIs, and this is only expected to grow more consistent as EV uptake continues at a rapid pace. Access to widely available charging stations is also great for drivers since they can work, shop, dine, and engage in recreational activities all while their vehicle charges in the background. The arrangement is a win-win and one that more businesses will undoubtedly look to offer in the coming years, especially with supportive federal and state funding programs to help cover the initial costs.
The Value of Adding EV Charging for Property Owners
One lasting benefit that EV charging stations provide in many cases is an enduring increase to property values. For instance, a study conducted by Rivervale Leasing found that 76% of homes with an EV charger showed an increase in value and tended to sell for approximately 13% higher than comparable homes without EV chargers based on an analysis of 1,000 home prices across 50 regions in the UK. The same logic can be applied to commercial properties since EV chargers can offer more functionality and income streams which were outlined in detail above. EV charging stations can quite literally transform a building’s parking lot from being an underutilized patch of asphalt into a key piece of a network that will power the nation’s clean transportation future.
AmpUp wants to power this decentralized charging network of the future by allowing station operators such as property owners, businesses and municipalities to offer a comprehensive suite of smart charging features to drivers. AmpUp’s software empowers station managers to do everything from setting price controls and load management to establishing rules for station access and reservations. There are many reasons to install an EV charging station at your property or business, and AmpUp is here to enable your solution regardless of your end-goal. Whichever specific use case you have in mind, installing EV charging stations is a surefire way to ensure your property thrives as the EV adoption wave continues to surge.