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Attention Business Owners! Now You Can Have a Commercial EV Charging Station

Attention Business Owners! Now You Can Have a Commercial EV Charging Station

Commercial electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are a promising opportunity for businesses and property owners great and small. From property managers with large operations to single-branch restaurants or other small businesses, you too can start profiting from the EV revolution.

In this first post on the commercial side of the EV-charging equation, we will review some major considerations when assessing the viability of a commercial EV charging station — and why the new Lectron Commercial Level 2 EV Charger is a compelling addition to your business.

In future posts, we will look more closely at a few businesses by sector. 

At the macro level, the latest Global Electric Vehicle Outlook report from the International Energy Agency showed that more than 10 million EVs were sold worldwide in 2022, with sales expected to grow to 14 million in 2023. The future looks very bright with sustained growth, with Goldman Sachs Research projecting that EV sales will climb to about 73 million cars in 2040. 

The main benefits of commercial charging:

  • It's Profitable: The industry has already matured enough to make charging stations profitable, and this will improve year on year. 
  • Increases Foot Traffic: Charging stations attract more people to stop, charge, and spend time at your business site.
  • Builds Loyalty: As customers associate your business with charging their EVs, you build customer loyalty and earn repeat visits. 
  • Improved Relevance: EVs are taking off in the market and customers will see that you're keeping up with the times.
  • Better Metrics: Charging stations support the growing EV sector, which uses state-of-the-art technology. As part of this ecosystem, you get advanced hardware, data-processing tools, improved customer analytics, and other business-intelligence tools that will help maximize your operation returns.   

Commercial vs. Home Charging

Essentially there are two main areas you need to remember when considering the EV charging landscape:

  • Residential EV Chargers: These are either Level 1 or Level 2 chargers, and they deliver overnight or emergency charging at home, as well as more rapid-charging performance.

  • Commercial EV Chargers: Commercial chargers are typically Level 2 or Level 3 chargers, as they offer commercial-level performance and faster charging times, as well as the build quality needed for customers to quickly charge and be on their way.

    As for Level 3 or DC Fast Charging stations, these are the fastest and most powerful but they also have much higher set-up costs. Whereas Level 2 chargers like the Lectron Commercial Level 2 EV Charger can break even within months, a Level 3 charger can take years. 

Since commercial charging puts much tougher usage demands on individual charging stations and components, they must have much higher manufacturing-quality standards. On top of this, a commercial charger must be backed by strong warranties and after-service.  

Building Your Customer Base 

Ideally, you already have a high-traffic property. This includes apartment buildings, office buildings, shopping malls, high-traffic restaurants, manufacturing plants, and other sites with large numbers of cars coming through.

You need a large volume of EVs regularly passing through, as well as a location that people can count on during their daily commutes. Many people drive one or more hours every day to get to work, so you want to be where people can charge if they're running low on power. 

One approach to improving your customer base is accommodating as many EV types and brands as possible. This means you will need the charging hardware that can accommodate all kinds of car models, from Tesla to the growing list of J1772-compatible EVs.

As you plan your charging station, remember to get a set of Lectron Tesla-compatible charger adapters, so that everyone with an EV can depend on you for their charging needs. 

 

How Lectron is Changing the Game

To appreciate why the Lectron Commercial Charger is such a game-changer, let's review where Lectron fits in the market. Ultimately, our position is supported by offering quality products at major cost savings to the commercial sector.

The table, below, compares a few comparable major brands and their commercial chargers. With regard to Level 2 charger installation costs, since that's an important factor, one average often seen is about $1000 per charger. This depends on many variables, including the size of your charging station and the labor costs in your area. You can start with $1000 but expect it to vary.  

To make sure we're making an apples-to-apples comparison, the following compares 240 V and at least 32 Amp chargers. The Lectron Commercial Charger runs at 48 Amps.   

We will also set the utilization rate at 2% for each charger, as that is a common benchmark and is a helpful place to start. We also compare hardware of similarly good build quality and warranty programs that are equivalent. 

Looking at the table, especially comparing the Charger Price against Days to Break Even, Lectron truly stands apart. 

Brand Lectron Blink Chargepoint
Price $599 $3499* $6385*
Power Output for Commercial Charging (kW) 11.5 19.2 7.2
Power Output for Commercial Charging (Amp) 48 80 32
User Interface Dedicated mobile app Dedicated mobile app Dedicated mobile app
Charger Connector SAE J1772, Lockable (up to 0.24” or 5mm Shackle Diameter) SAE J1772, Lockable (up to 0.24” or 5mm Shackle Diameter) SAE J1772, Lockable (up to 0.24” or 5mm Shackle Diameter)
Customer Connectivity WiFi/4G WiFi/4G WiFi/4G
kWh (per day) 5.53 9.68 3.63
Net Profit for each kWh ($) ^ ~0.17 ~0.17 ~0.17
Days to Break Even 580 2,766 12,107

* Depending on the vendor, prices may include the ~$1000 installation.
^ Net Profit per kWh = Cost of electricity - What you charge customers per kWh

The last table on Days to Break Even clearly shows why the Lectron Commercial Charger is such a compelling investment. At only 580 days to break even, Lectron's charger offers a much quicker return. Lectron's competitive pricing means your days to profitability can be from 5x to 20x faster!

What this means is that even if you only have a relatively small operation like a restaurant with a few other shops close by, adding a commercial charging bay to your property makes great sense! Delight your customers while they stop by for a meal and complete other errands. 

Supported by a Powerful SaaS Platform 

The interface where customers connect complete their transactions (and this includes station management, billing, payments, and more) is crucial.

Charging speeds or hardware won't mean much if the customer experience is poor, customer management or payment gateways can't support high volumes of use, and owner-operators can't track their station performance.

Lectron's commercial chargers have a robust software-as-a-service (or SaaS) platform that can handle the different customer profiles and payments you need to manage your charging operation.

Operators need a platform that:

  • Adds/Removes charging stations and users
  • Manages charger queueing
  • Upgrades firmware and reboots chargers wirelessly
  • Lets you easily change the pricing of $/kW for charging
  • Collects, processes, and supports all payment needs

Customers need a platform that:

  • Activates or turn the EV charger on or off in-app and remotely
  • Adjusts the EV charger output (ideally up to 48 Amps for a fast charge)
  • Shifts to fit charging schedules at off-peak hours
  • Supports queuing for charging slots at high-demand hours 
  • Views charging history and power consumption
  • Manages the payment journey to the customers' satisfaction 

    The Lectron Commercial Charger truly is a business-friendly solution that covers all the bases when it comes to commercial charging. Supported by a well-designed customer SaaS management system, you will stay focused on keeping your operation efficient and trouble-free. 

    How to Calculate Total Cost

    Some factors to consider include:

    Procurement

    The cost of charging station hardware will depend on the number and type of charging units you need. Level 2 chargers are typically less expensive than DC fast chargers (some DC fast chargers can cost more than $50,000 per unit), and the Table above showed that some Level 2 chargers can cost up to $8000 per charger.

    By pricing the Lectron Commercial Charger at only $599, this means you can get even more charging bays and more income streams at your property. 

    Power Consumption

    Power grid and power line images

    Power supply and costs depend on local utility rates. Added to this are the charging capacity coming from each charging station, and the daily utilization rates.

    Although power costs vary nationally, the Table, below, shows average commercial power rates per kWh for New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Seattle. 

     City New York Atlanta Los Angeles Seattle
    Commercial kWh Rate 16.48 ¢/kWh 9.29¢/kWh 12.74¢/kWh 11.11¢/kWh

    Operating Costs

    Operating costs for commercial EV charging stations are similar to those at traditional gas stations. Some differences can include ongoing hardware maintenance, cleaning, repairs, software updates, and charging station upgrades. These costs can vary depending on the type and number of charging units and the frequency of use.

    For this reason, having good warranty terms on all the equipment is crucial, such as the Lectron 2-year, warranties and service that come with all Lectron Commercial Level 2 EV Chargers.

    Local Incentives and Rebates

    A major part of the financial picture involves looking at local, state, and federal incentives, credits, and rebates. Thankfully there are many programs for helping companies adopt EV charging services. It pays to get a good review of the credits, grants, and rebates from various sources that can help finance the setting up of EV charging stations at your business.

    To help you navigate this large and complex territory, we created a page with resources to with various Federal and State programs

    The good news is there are programs available from USDOT, DOE, USDA, EPA, the IRS, and more. A great place to start finding out about federal funding programs and incentives are available at the US Department of Transportation website, which also has a comprehensive list of more than 80 available programs here.

    What's Next — Where to Go from Here?

    Remember to bookmark our blog and come back to learn more about how Lectron and the Lectron Commercial Level 2 EV Charger is changing the game when it comes to EV chargers and accessories.

    Since a commercial charging station can be very complex with many considerations, we at Lectron would be delighted to offer some added guidance, should you need it. For help with your commercial charging and to answer questions on our Commercial Level 2 EV Charger, please contact us.

    In the coming posts, we will look more closely at different commercial types, such as parking lots, shopping malls, high-traffic restaurant areas, large parking areas connected to a large office building or manufacturing plant, or other venues.

     

    FAQs

    • Are commercial EV charging stations profitable?

      This depends on factors like location, charging rates, and the number of EV charging stations you have operating at your commercial property.

      These stations can be profitable if the set-up costs are affordable and the station is installed in high-traffic areas where demand for EV charging services is high.

    • Is investing in EV charging stations worth it?

      This depends on your current business operation and your future goals. Demand for EVs and charging services is growing and is expected to stay strong. EVs and charging are here to stay.

    • What are the benefits of investing in a commercial EV charging station?

      This is a way for businesses and property owners to attract more customers or tenants who are interested in sustainable transportation options. This can build loyalty and added revenue streams through charging fees from EV charging.

      This increases foot traffic in commercial spaces, effectively attracting EV owners to potentially spend and buy more. EV charging stations can also help businesses and property owners differentiate themselves from competitors, and qualify for incentives and rebates at the federal, state, and local levels.

    • How much does running EV charging stations cost?

      It's important to consider the procurement costs for the hardware, installation costs, ongoing electricity consumption, operating costs, warranties and coverage, and any available incentives or rebates. There are many factors and there isn't a simple, single answer to this question.

    • What are some features to look for in a commercial EV charging station?

      The most important ones are charging capacity, the number of charging bays, weather protection, safety features, charging speeds, and the customer management platform. Additionally, how well the whole system can support WiFi and 4G integration, as that's going to be the best way to process high volumes of customer transactions.

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