Multifamily Owners and Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: The Race Is On

This article originally appeared on Commercial Observer.

Electric vehicles have traditionally been defined by range anxiety: the fear of running out of power midway through a trip. But the real challenge for increased EV adoption, according to Zach Jennings, the CEO of apartment-focused charging startup Chargie, is charging anxiety. Drivers simply want to know there’s a reliable place to plug in when they need it.

Providing that reliability is going to be a central infrastructure challenge for California, which supercharged its own EV ambitions with an announced ban on the sale of new gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035. Last week, New York announced it would do the same by 2035 and other states are expected to follow.

Supported by a web of renewable energy targets and regulations around electric trucks, the Golden State’s electrification target has created an all-hands-on-deck feeling, as EV charging firms look to aggressively expand.

But to meet the goal of electrifying the transportation sector, the state will need to look beyond high-end EV owners with their own charging arrangements at home and provide infrastructure for renters, especially in lower-income neighborhoods. And apartment owners will face the dilemma of how and when to install chargers on their properties.

More than half of California’s residents rent, and therefore lack easy access to at-home chargers or Tesla’s Supercharger network. Historically, the focus on expanding the charging network has been on houses — 85 percent of EV owners live in single-family homes — as well as commercial corridors and office parking lots. Apartments represent a tricky, but necessary, part of the charging network, especially in Los Angeles, which set a goal of 80 percent of new vehicle sales being electric by 2028.

“EV owners and purchasers of the past decade have tended to be white, high-income males who have access to home charging,” said Garrett Fitzgerald, senior director of electrification for the Smart Electric Power Alliance, a nonprofit that helps utilities deploy clean energy. “Charging infrastructure is primarily in areas where that demographic lives and primarily not where other demographics live.”

This massive infrastructure investment will be a significant challenge for apartment owners and landlords, who will need to balance installation costs for chargers and the potential need for new electrical capacity (which can run up to six figures per apartment building to install), as well as a myriad business models and potential partners offering webs of incentives.

The apartment industry wants to embrace electrification and electric vehicles, Karen Hollinger, senior vice president of strategy for multifamily giant AvalonBay, said in a webinar last summer. But it’s tough when buildings have already been built, and owners and operators need guidance from experts to navigate this shift. Building owners and operators aren’t up to date on new incentives and technology in the fast-moving, evolving sector.

“We are going to spend billions of dollars nationally on charging infrastructure in the next five years,” said Fitzgerald. “And, if we’re not intentional about it, we will make those charging deserts worse, and we will unlikely address issues.”

There’s an industry perspective that EV owners tend to be wealthier and more desirable tenants, and that adding chargers increases the value of the apartment asset. Yet, it can still be hard to make the upfront investment, especially years before it may be viewed as a necessary amenity for tenants. Multifamily EV charging is also a tougher sell to third-party vendors and operators because of a lack of a critical mass of users.

“For multifamily dwellings, we’re kind of in a nascent stage of starting to set up charging facilities in these buildings,” said F. Noel Ferry, founder of Next 10, a California-based think tank.

Overall, apartment owners will need to wade through these questions, as well as the installation, software, and hardware options, to find what works.

There’s yet to be a silver bullet solution that helps all apartment owners in all circumstances. Free charging, said Jennings, has already become less popular, as early experiments cost landlords thousands of dollars per station. Heather Hochrein, CEO and founder of EVMatch, which operates a network of private charging stations, says that the markets for software and hardware for EV charging are still “the Wild West.”

“It just gets complicated,” Fitzgerald says. “Landlords don’t want to be in the business of selling EV charging; they don’t want to own an expensive charger and sell power to drivers. It’s just one more thing outside of their core business.”

The demand from renters is predicted to grow significantly in coming years. The growing number of electric vehicle models on the market, and the slowly shrinking price of a new EV, is starting to provide more moderately priced options within reach of more rental households. And new funding from the Inflation Reduction Act and other laws, as well as the recently passed California budget and support from the California Energy Commission can help. Jennings and others argue that now is the time to seize the moment before the market matures and incentives are phased out.

For instance, Southern California Edison, which serves roughly 15 million people, set aside $436 million for a program to install 35,000 charge ports, focused on disadvantaged communities, with 30 percent of that earmarked for multifamily homes. Available advisory services also help owners navigate the different products and building policies around charging. Even with the incentive — $3,500 per port at a new building and $1,450 for a renovation — and help covering any related infrastructure upgrades, owners may need to put in more funding to bring their electrical systems up to par.

Southern California Edison expects to run out of these funds by the end of the year; it has twice as many applicants as it can serve. Apartment owners still need more clarity about long-range incentives and how they work, Hollinger said, so they can plan further ahead to make large investments in capital expenditures.

There’s plenty of room for progress. A 2021 study by the California Energy Commission found the state would need 1.2 million public chargers by 2030 to meet the fueling demands of 7.5 million plug-in electric vehicles. Another state estimate suggested multifamily chargers will need to account for roughly 10 percent of the total. Current progress pins the total number of chargers in the state at just shy of 80,000 as of early this summer, far from sufficient.

“A lot of the costs of these projects are labor costs, ripping up parking lots and laying conduit,” said EVMatch’s Hochrein. “I don’t think these installations are going to get cheaper as time goes on.”

Equity issues also hamstring installation. Newer, luxury apartments, now charging record rent in many cases, can afford to install new chargers and see it as a way to attract wealthy renters. More affordable housing has thinner margins and fewer resources.

Older apartments — including Los Angeles’ famous dingbat buildings of the postwar period, a style found in other Sun Belt areas — often lack the electrical infrastructure to install chargers. Newer buildings are covered by state building code requirements to pre-wire 10 percent of parking spots so it will later be easier to install chargers. Retrofitting surface or garage parking can range from $2,000 to $10,000 per spot, and multifamily dwellings, especially small ones, don’t have a lot of parking to begin with, so EV-only spaces further crowd small lots or garages.

Some advocate for more software and tech solutions to serve as a bridge and expand the charging potential of a limited number of plugs. Especially as EVs take off in Southern California, the increasing need for multiple chargers at every site will require tech to manage the energy load. Firms like EVMatch offer subscriptions services, so property owners can help more drivers utilize limited charging infrastructure. Chargie, which has installed chargers at hundreds of apartment buildings, offers load-management software to distribute and load-manage limited power bandwidth to multiple vehicles. Four chargers become 16, for instance, with vehicles slowly powering up overnight.

Others are testing additional technology solutions, including installing batteries and solar panels so building owners could theoretically offer charging without incurring steeper electricity costs. Chargie is testing this option in Los Angeles, one more potential innovation for a market that’s still in flux and running out of time.

“We used to have some time to figure it out,” said Fitzgerald. “But, now, the market is moving so quickly that we don’t have any time left to figure it out. And we need to figure that out now.”

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plans Approved for all 50 States, DC and Puerto Rico

On September 27, 2022, only a couple weeks after the initial wave of approvals, the Biden-Harris Administration announced it has approved the country’s remaining Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plans ahead of schedule. With this official go ahead, states can now begin tapping into the $5 billion of NEVI funding that’s available over five years. This is a historic step toward meeting the country’s transportation electrification and climate change goals.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, these approved funds can be used for a variety of EV charging projects, including:

  • Upgrade of existing and construction of new EV charging infrastructure
  • Operation and maintenance costs of these charging stations
  • Installation of on-site electrical service equipment
  • Community and stakeholder engagement
  • Workforce development activities
  • EV charging station signage
  • Data sharing activities
  • Related mapping analysis and activities

In an official press release issued by the USDOT, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said “America led the original automotive revolution in the last century, and today, thanks to the historic resources in the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re poised to lead in the 21st century with electric vehicles.”

Each state’s submitted plan and newly updated approved status can be viewed here.

How Chargie can help

At Chargie, we specialize in navigating federal, state and local funding programs to provide our clients with EV charging stations at little to no out-of-pocket costs. We handle everything from applying to the programs and submitting the required paperwork to installing the charging stations and providing ongoing maintenance and support. With Chargie, property owners get a truly turnkey partner, and drivers get simple, intuitive charging. Learn more about our turnkey solution.

The places you park most of the time become places you can charge at any time. Our 99% availability means you’ll return to a fully charged car and our 24/7/365 customer care provides drivers and clients the support they need at every turn.

What is the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program?

Established and funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program provides crucial funding to states to deploy electric vehicle (EV) charging stations throughout communities and along important transportation corridors. The program’s $5 billion slated to be available over five years represents not only significant investment in infrastructure, but also a firm commitment to meeting the country’s climate goals. According to a statement from the administration, the program investment is intended to “accelerate the adoption of EVs, reduce emissions, improve air quality, and create good-paying jobs across the country.”

To take part in the program, states were required to submit their first-year deployment plans by August 1, 2022, outlining strategies for using their allocated shares of NEVI funding. These plans are required to be updated each year. Once approved, a state may begin accessing its share of allotted funds for eligible EV infrastructure projects.

Approval of First 35 State Plans

On September 14, 2022, the USDOT announced the approval of 35 plans submitted by States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico:

Arizona Arkansas
California Colorado
Connecticut Delaware
District of Columbia Florida
Georgia Kansas
Kentucky Louisiana
Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan
Minnesota Mississippi
Montana Nebraska
Nevada New Hampshire
New Mexico North Dakota
Ohio Oklahoma
Oregon Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico Rhode Island
South Dakota Tennessee
Utah Washington
Wisconsin

The USDOT anticipates having plans from all remaining states reviewed by September 30, 2022. Each state’s submitted plan and approval status can be viewed here.

How Chargie can help

At Chargie, we specialize in navigating federal, state and local funding programs to provide our clients with EV charging stations at little to no out-of-pocket costs. We handle everything from applying to the programs and submitting the required paperwork to installing the charging stations and providing ongoing maintenance and support. With Chargie, property owners get a truly turnkey partner, and drivers get simple, intuitive charging. Learn more about our turnkey solution.

The places you park most of the time become places you can charge at any time. Our 99% availability means you’ll return to a fully charged car and our 24/7/365 customer care provides drivers and clients the support they need at every turn.

California EV Charger Rebates and Incentives

Did you know that a wide range of  ev charger rebates and incentives can completely cover or significantly reduce the costs of purchasing and installing electric vehicle (EV) chargers at a commercial or multifamily property? A number of federal, state and local programs exist to offset costs, grow the country’s charging network, and promote the adoption of EVs. As a result, many Chargie clients have 100% of their project costs covered.

California Leads the Nation

When it comes to growing EV ownership, California leads the way. In February 2022, the state announced it surpassed “1 million plug-in electric cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and motorcycles sold in California – more than the total sales in the next 10 states combined.” Given this rapid growth, it follows that funding for chargers to power these vehicles is a crucial part of California’s plan for the future.

Here are some of the programs available to multifamily and commercial properties within the state. More information about these programs can be found here.

Statewide

  • California Energy Commission

Northern California

  • Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) – Charge!
  • Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE)
  • Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
  • Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) – FutureFit Assist

Central California

  • San Joaquin Valley – CALeVIP
  • San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District – Charge Up!

Southern California

  • Anaheim Public Utilities (APU)
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) – Charge Up LA
  • San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) – Power Your Drive
  • Southern California Edison (SCE) – Charge Ready

The details of each program vary and are subject to change based on funding availability. To stay plugged in on new rebates and program updates, subscribe to Chargie’s emails.

Applying for Rebates and Incentives

The process of applying for these rebate and incentive programs can be complex. Property owners will need to have a solid understanding of the programs they are eligible for, the documents required and the electrical capabilities of their buildings. A few things to note:

  • Projects are often required to have a clear plan for installation, which includes charger layout designs, permits, construction schedules, testing procedures and more. Chargie’s turnkey solution handles every step of the process.
  • Some rebates and incentives can be combined, maximizing funding for a particular project. Chargie’s Programs Team can assist in determining which programs can be stacked together.
  • Program funding won’t last forever and is often issued on a first come, first served basis so interested property owners should act quickly.

How Chargie Can Help

At Chargie, we specialize in finding the best programs to plug into to provide our clients with EV charging stations at little to no out-of-pocket costs. We handle everything from applying to the programs and submitting the required paperwork to installing the charging stations and providing ongoing maintenance and support. With Chargie, property owners get a truly turnkey partner, and drivers get simple, intuitive charging. Learn more about our turnkey solution.

The places you park most of the time become places you can charge at any time. Our 99% availability means you’ll return to a fully charged car and our 24/7/365 customer care provides drivers and clients the support they need at every turn.

 

Saving Big with EV Charger Rebates – LADWP

With EV ownership on the rise, more and more LA residents are demanding EV charging stations where they live. Multifamily properties are finding this trend is quickly moving from a nice-to-have amenity to a make-or-break necessity. Lucky for property owners, LADWP is currently offering rebates through the Charge Up LA! program. Chargie works through this program, and many more, to help property owners install electric vehicle infrastructure at little to no out of pocket cost.

Alister Sherman Oaks – $160,000 in Savings

Chargie client, Mill Creek Residential, reached out about one of its properties located in Sherman Oaks, CA. Alister Sherman Oaks is a 105-unit, multifamily property, situated where the 405 meets the 101 at the gateway to Bel Air. This four-story property provides its residents and guests with 183 parking spaces within a single-story garage. Upon evaluation, Chargie was able to procure funding for 40 level 2 charging stations through the Charge Up LA! program. This provided the client with total savings of $160k in charger and network hardware, infrastructure upgrades, labor and construction costs. Now Alister residents have reliable and accessible EV charging when they need it.

Charge Up LA! – LADWP

Chargie has helped over 1,000 properties save money and time through the Charge Up LA! program. LADWP is committed to supporting the growth of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Los Angeles county by making low to no-cost EV charging stations available to multi-tenant property owners and operators. Program funds are allocated on a first come first served basis and only available for a limited time. We encourage property owners to act fast to see if they qualify while funding is still available. Reach out to receive a free property evaluation.

Chargie’s Turnkey Solution

At Chargie, we specialize in finding the best programs to plug into to provide our clients with EV charging stations at little to no out-of-pocket costs. We handle everything from applying to the programs and submitting the required paperwork to installing the charging stations and providing ongoing maintenance and support. With Chargie, property owners get a truly turnkey partner, and drivers get simple, intuitive charging. Learn more about our turnkey solution.

The places you park most of the time become places you can charge at any time. Our 99% availability means you’ll return to a fully charged car and our 24/7/365 customer care provides drivers and clients the support they need at every turn.

EVs on the Rise in the Lone Star State

The growing number of electric cars on the road today is undeniable. This upward trend is sure to continue at exponential rates as major car manufacturers like Ford, Chevy, and Toyota expand their lines of fully electric vehicles. While this growth in EV drivers was initially propelled by California and other states on the west and east coasts, we are now seeing demand rise elsewhere.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in 2021, Texas was ranked third for EV car registrations compared to other states. Registrations almost doubled compared to 2020 and more than tripled compared to 2018. With this rapid growth in EV ownership, Texas property owners, specifically commercial and multifamily property owners, need to prepare for the increasing EV charging demand from residents, tenants and visitors.

Lower Costs by Installing Today

Property owners often assume installing proactively to prepare for future demand will cost more, when installing EV chargers today is often the most cost-effective strategy. In recent news, Texas has allocated over $400 million in federal funding for EV charging station installations. This, along with other local, state, and national EV charger rebate and incentive programs, will allow building owners to offset large portions, if not all, of the costs associated with installing chargers at multifamily and commercial properties. Having EV chargers will soon be a necessity rather than a luxury, and because these programs won’t last forever, owners need to take advantage as soon as possible to reserve funding. This is where Chargie can help. Chargie ensures properties are ready for the EV evolution by helping property owners save money on the installation and managing the EV charging infrastructure.

Get Started with Chargie

At Chargie, we specialize in finding the best programs to plug into to provide our clients with EV charging stations at little to no out-of-pocket costs. We handle everything from applying to the programs and submitting the required paperwork to installing the charging stations and providing ongoing maintenance and support. With Chargie, property owners get a truly turnkey partner, and drivers get simple, intuitive charging. Reach out to learn more.

EV Does It: Incentives Help Building Owners Offset The Cost Of Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

This article originally appeared on Bisnow.

ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods’ recent prediction that 100% of new vehicles sold in 2040 will be electric likely sent two important messages to the real estate world.

One is that when the head of a giant petroleum company says electric vehicles are the future, then it seems the age of EVs has finally arrived. Secondly, it is time to get buildings ready for an influx of residents and tenants demanding charging stations.

Chris Vargas, senior vice president of business development for Chargie, a California-based installer of EV charging stations in multifamily and commercial buildings, said those takeaways are spot-on.

“About 70% of people right now see themselves buying an electric vehicle in the next two to three years, so property owners really need to think about how they’re going to meet the demand,” he said.

Vargas added that building owners should not take Woods’ 18-year timeline to mean they have close to two decades to prepare. In fact, it might actually be closer to a mere 18 months — that is, if they want to take advantage of generous incentives now available to support the cost of installing EV infrastructure.

The Biden administration designated nearly $5B to help develop the nation’s EV charging capabilities along important transportation corridors. This will enable EV drivers to make much longer trips without needing to worry about being stranded in areas that lack charging infrastructure.

However, most EV charging takes place where a driver lives, which suggests that charging stations will soon be a must-have amenity at multifamily properties. Fortunately for building owners, millions of dollars in incentives are available through power utilities to offset the expense.

With multifamily buildings expected to spend $2.5B to add charging capabilities, that is no small thing.

“Of the 17,000 chargers Chargie has installed on more than 1,000 properties, 90% have been completely paid for by rebates and incentives,” Vargas said. “Large properties can receive more than $200K worth of infrastructure without an investment. There definitely is an opportunity here for building owners.”

The catch? Vargas said the process of applying for and actually obtaining a rebate typically takes about 18 months. That means that the time to act is now.

“Thousands of applications have already been filed for these incentives,” he said. “You need to get in the queue now before demand really starts to take off in the next few years if you want to take advantage of these programs.”

Also, Vargas said, the current incentives won’t be around forever.

“I compare it to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, when all those incentives were available to pay for ramps and railings,” he said. “Most of those incentives have since gone away.”

Vargas recommended that building owners check with their local utility to obtain a list of approved EV system vendors that have technical know-how but also understand how the incentive application process works. While property owners and managers might be tempted to tackle this on their own, they may not have the resources to navigate the process.

“There are a lot of requirements that go along with the rebate application process and it can be very daunting for somebody trying to do this for the first time,” Vargas said. “We’ve run into several multifamily owners who lost out on money because they just don’t have the experienced, full-time people to dedicate to the task.”

At the moment, incentive programs are most common in West Coast states. That is likely to change, he said, as EV infrastructure continues its explosive growth and more states try to encourage its adoption by building owners.

But Vargas emphasized that no matter how generous the incentives, consumer demand is likely to be the main driver behind multifamily buildings installing EV infrastructure. In recent years, the availability of EV chargers has become one of the top search criteria for apartment hunters, ahead even of price, he said.

Vargas said building owners across the country need to be thinking now about how they will meet their tenants’ expectations. If ExxonMobil’s forecast is correct, they won’t have a choice in the matter if they want to attract tenants in the future, particularly younger renters.

Already, Vargas said, some California tenants have moved out of apartment buildings that lacked EV charging, and it may not be long before residents in the Midwest or on the East Coast start to behave similarly.

“We recommend that at least 25% of the parking spaces for a multifamily building have EV charging stations,” he said. “That’s what we believe will be needed to meet the demand over the next few years, and of course, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to need more. We’ve even worked with 300-unit buildings that wanted to install 300 EV chargers for 100% coverage of residents.”

Plugging into the CALeVIP EV Charger Incentive Program – Multifamily Properties

When it comes to installing EV charging infrastructure in Northern California, finding the balance between exploding demand and cost is always a major consideration for commercial and multifamily property owners. Owners often think installing proactively to prepare for future demand will cost more, when in fact installing today is often the most cost effective strategy. Local, state, and national EV charger rebate and incentive programs can offset large portions of the cost but won’t be around forever. At Chargie, we specialize in finding the best programs to plug into to provide our clients with EV charging stations at little to no out of pocket costs.

The Edge, an apartment complex in the heart of Fremont, CA, partnered with Chargie for its EV charger needs. This three-story multifamily property was built in 1971 with 138 units and 300 parking spaces on site. This project consisted of 10 Level 2 chargers installed and networked on the property and with Chargie’s help, The Edge saved $55,000 through the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP) incentive program.

CALeVIP tackles the need for EV charging infrastructure statewide while also combating other environmental goals the state sets. Their efforts provide an efficient system to install chargers and eliminate the charging gaps across California. CALeVIP receives funds from the California Energy Commission to work with local partners and offer grants to EV charger projects while motivating Californians to contemplate purchasing EVs.

While it may seem straightforward, rebate programs like CALeVIP can be complex and time consuming for property owners and managers to navigate and apply for on their own. After helping over 1,000 properties with their EV charging projects, Chargie can ensure your property isn’t missing out on similar rebates and incentives. From applying to the programs and submitting the required paperwork to installing the charging stations and getting them approved, Chargie handles everything. With Chargie, property owners get a truly turnkey partner, and residents, tenants and visitors get simple, intuitive charging.

LA Companies Give Renters More Ways to Charge EVs

This article originally appeared on Los Angeles Business Journal.

Electric vehicles are touted as the future, especially in Los Angeles where the city’s climate goals call for 80% of vehicles sold to be electric by 2028 — seven years ahead of the state’s 2035 cutoff for gasoline-powered auto sales.

But to achieve that zero-emissions future, Los Angeles will need charging stations within reach of more people. First and foremost, that means installing chargers at apartment and condo buildings.

“People who want to buy EVs, if they can’t charge at home, where else do they charge?” said Rajit Gadh, director of UCLA’s Smart Grid Energy Research Center.

A 2019 UC Davis study examining EV charging rates in California found that more than 50% of battery-electric vehicle drivers living in single-family residences were able to charge vehicles at home while most multifamily residents primarily relied on public chargers.

“If you just look around you as you drive through Santa Monica and neighborhoods where you used to have single-family homes, you have multifamily buildings going up,” Gadh said. “It is absolutely essential that we all work toward the problem of multiunit dwelling charging.”

Los Angeles has become a hub for the growing electric vehicle industry, and now multiple local companies are tackling the problem of EV charger access.

The power of rebates

Culver City-based Chargie works directly with property owners to install charging infrastructure at multifamily and commercial buildings. Formerly a division of solar panel installer PCS Energy, Chargie was spun out last year into a separate company.

Tracy Chou, the company’s design and marketing director, said PCS Energy and Chargie have already installed chargers at more than 700 properties with multifamily buildings comprising the vast majority of that total.

“The reason why we’ve had such a big impact is that our founders are people who have worked in multifamily for a very long time, so we really understand the priorities of multifamily property owners,” said Chou.

Building owners are looking not just to install equipment in a quick and cost-efficient manner, Chou said, but to ensure operations are being monitored and chargers are kept in working order.

PCS Energy was launched in 2014 by apartment industry veterans Joseph Fryzer, Paul Jennings and Joseph Pekarovic with the goal of using renewable energy to deliver cost savings to building owners. Chou said the establishment of Chargie as a separate entity has allowed the company to better serve property owners looking to install EV charging equipment.

“You’re really talking about a lot of moving parts when it comes to EV charging,” Chou said. “If something happens with your charging station, it becomes a very difficult thing to troubleshoot. Is it the electrical? Is it the software?”

Chou said Chargie’s team guides building owners through the entire installation process as well as any maintenance necessary after chargers are up and running.

The company is also able to provide these services at a low cost to building owners in the Los Angeles area thanks to temporary subsidies offered by local utility providers.

In 2016, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power began offering a rebate for multifamily property owners that covers up to $4,000 per charger, plus $750 for an additional port. Southern California Edison offers similar rebates for building owners installing chargers on site and in July announced a $436 million investment in electric vehicle infrastructure.

According to Chou, most apartment building owners that work with Chargie install chargers at virtually no cost when using these rebates.

“A lot of the time, (building owners) are paying nothing to have EV charging stations installed,” Chou said. “We manage the whole process end to end and help them reap the benefits of these rebates, but it makes a huge difference when you’re talking about a project that won’t be free in five years.”

Addressing ‘range anxiety’

Rebate programs may be especially enticing to the owners of newly constructed buildings, which are required under California’s building code to include “EV capable” parking spaces with electrical panels and raceways to support EV charging equipment in at least 10% of parking spots.

The requirements are stricter in the city of Los Angeles where developers are required to actually install chargers in at least 10% of parking spaces while ensuring an additional 20% are EV capable.

Aric Ohana, chief executive of Culver City-based Envoy Technologies Inc., said even without incentives, it’s easy for multifamily property owners to see the appeal of electric vehicle infrastructure as an important amenity for residents.

“We’re now in 15 markets in 10 states,” Ohana said. “That includes small markets like Boise, Idaho, and Athens, Ohio. In those markets, you’re not going to find incentives. It’s more forward-thinking real estate operators and developers.”

Like Chargie, Envoy sometimes installs EV-charging equipment at multifamily properties, but the company is primarily focused on a car-sharing platform that allows users to rent electric vehicles that are parked and charged up at residential and commercial properties.

Ohana said shared mobility models like this one are ideal for apartment buildings where a single vehicle can serve dozens of residents making occasional short trips. The company also gives drivers considering purchasing an electric vehicle the chance to try one out and see how it functions for typical use.

“It’s a new technology, and people have what’s called ‘range anxiety,’” Ohana said.

Drivers considering switching to an electric vehicle are often concerned about the distance cars can travel before needing to be charged, he said, and how close or far the nearest charging station is. Being able to use a vehicle when running errands or taking a day trip allows drivers to familiarize themselves with EVs’ range and battery life.

“If they test drive a vehicle, they aren’t going to get a sense of how it interacts with their day-to-day life,” Ohana said. “People are living with this car at their doorstep. It enables them to really adopt EVs.”

The future is coming

Addressing the problem of so-called range anxiety is a primary goal for EVgo Inc., the Sawtelle-based electric vehicle charging company that went public earlier this year via a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

Established in 2010, the company has built an extensive network of public charging stations spread across more than 65 metropolitan areas.

Sara Rafalson, vice president of market development and public policy, said EVgo now primarily installs DC fast chargers capable of fully charging a vehicle’s battery in just 30 minutes (compared to several hours for a typical home charger).

Fast chargers are poorly suited for apartment buildings due to high power consumption, but Rafalson said they can be a good option for drivers who live in multiunit dwellings when they are placed nearby.

“Sometimes residents don’t even have access to on-site parking,” Rafalson said. “We see high demand in areas with a large proportion of multifamily housing.”

EVgo commissioned a UCLA study released in February analyzing user data and the charging habits of apartment and condo dwellers. It showed that chargers placed in high-density urban areas attracted a larger share of apartment users than others in the EVgo network. Nearly a quarter of users in these areas did not have a charger at home.

“We like to locate chargers in places where customers want to be and where there are sufficient amenities,” said Rafalson, adding that she herself did not have a charger at home when she purchased an electric vehicle.

“I would just charge at my grocery store once a week,” she said. “I was able to integrate charging into my daily life.”

But charging in public places isn’t always convenient, and the high electrical currents generated through fast charging can degrade a car’s battery, said UCLA’s Gadh. Plus, he said, the optimum time to plug in is between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. — when most people are home, and there’s less strain on the power grid.

“To charge easily and simply, you have to be able to charge at home,” Gadh said.

Ultimately, local EV charging companies agree that public, commercial and residential charging infrastructure will all play supplementary roles in the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

Ohana said it’s becoming clear that property owners are starting to think that way as well.

“They realize they’re going to need this, and they are future-proofing their buildings,” he said. “We’re seeing that more and more. The writing is on the wall.”

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