Industry VoicesNews In Brief

Why electric vehicles are gaining popularity and how to offer charging services

We are lucky that our beautiful country recognises the importance of sustainable initiatives. It makes sense because we are especially well placed to benefit from the likes of electric vehicles (EVs). With New Zealand’s high renewable energy levels, the emission reduction benefits are greater here than in most other countries and produces 80 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

The government predicts a steady increase in the number of electric vehicles in New Zealand. We should see a rise to 64,000 electric vehicles by the end of 2021.

But what does an increase in EV usage have to do with the accommodation industry? As it turns out – a great deal! On one hand, you might be motivated to exchange your accommodation business vehicles for EVs, your decision might be based on sustainability, ethical or economic reasons. This would not only make great business sense, but it also sends a great message to your customers and if you go down this route you need to install a charging station.

On the other hand, with most visitors hiring and using vehicles to tour this glorious country, it would suggest that the use of EVs by tourists will soon be widespread and finding a charging station will become an important element of touring holidays, indeed any trips. Hence, a key to your accommodation’s future success will be the ability of your property to cater to the increased use of EVs by providing electric power charging stations.

Electric vehicles are charged from an external electricity source in two ways, by electric batteries or a combination of batteries and a conventional engine (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles). All of these vehicles will need to use convenient EV charging stations.

According to Better NZ Trust “as of Jan 2020, there are 144 DC rapid charging stations in the North Island and a further 65 in the South Island, plus another 300+ AC charge points registered on Plugshare”.

Getting caught short in a powerless EV in between destinations is a real possibility for travellers and would certainly ruin a trip. Consequently, if your accommodation has EV charging infrastructure available that can conveniently charge guests’ EV vehicles overnight, it would be a very attractive draw card for your business.

New Zealanders are more environmentally friendly than they’ve ever been, so expect that electric vehicles will take over the roads in the next few years. Providing charging infrastructure is a smart choice that will future proof your accommodation business.

Safe and convenient EV charging stations will not only be a selling point for your business but will also give you the satisfaction of knowing that your guests will be driving on clean, affordable, domestic electricity helping to improve air quality for families across New Zealand

AccomNews asked some of the leading experts in the EV charging field for some practical guidance on the installation and management of charging stations.

Industry View: Glenn Inkster from TransNet

Why should accommodation owners consider installing an electric vehicle charging station?

Consider this, there was a time (not that long ago) when not all accommodation properties offered guest wifi access, and customers would simply choose to stay at another establishment that was ready to cater to their online and technology needs. As a result, the whole accommodation market had to quickly catch up and everyone began to provide better technology to remain competitive.

Similarly, I predict that there will be a point in time (not far into the future) when anyone with an electric vehicle will seek out accommodations that offer a suitable charging infrastructure for their car. Most travellers using electric vehicles (and users are rapidly increasing) will plan their route depending on where they can charge their car overnight and will choose accommodations that can do this.

However, before accommodation providers rush ahead and purchase/install charging infrastructure it is essential that they fully understand their requirements and the potential usage. Remember what you install to begin with must be designed to grow with your system so that your electrical supply is not overloaded.

How is usage managed and what should managers plan for?

Start as you mean to go on because managing your supply is essential. The most effective way to charge is using low capacity charge over the maximum amount of time (overnight is a perfect solution) this ensures the maximum use of the potential supply without having to invest in a substantial upgrade.

What are your main tips?

Only use a recommended industry specialist supplier/installer who will make sure your charging infrastructure is fit for purpose and systemised. There are systems that will do everything for you, including making sure that the electrical supply is not overloaded and automatically allocate more power to other cars when it is available. This means everyone starts the next day on a full charge.

It is also important to know the cost of each charge session so that the cost of electricity is recovered from the customer, and the original cost of the charging infrastructure is recuperated over time.

The rapid charging network that has been built up around the country is essential for those quick top ups on longer trips. However, the majority of EV charging will always happen overnight because it is more cost effective and a lot more convenient. Therefore, charging when staying away will become standard practice.

Industry view: Simon Wheeler from Charged EV, Wheeler Electrical Ltd.

At “Charged EV” we found that purchasing an electric vehicle was a great switch for the business, the electric van is perfect for our shorter trips and installs. We have also received great feedback from customers on site about our staff working out of an electric van to install their electric vehicle charger.

What is your best advice for the accommodation industry?

Motels/hotels/camping grounds would benefit from the purchase of electric vehicles for their staff because they are perfect for trips to gather supplies or for maintenance workers to use around their property.

Purchasing an electric vehicle for business use means you not only save money on running costs, but you are also helping the environment. This could also become a talking point around the site and encourage customers and clients to consider purchasing their own EVs.

Accommodations might also consider the purchase and installation of an EVSE charging point for guests use, this service would set them apart from their competitors by allowing customers to charge safely and efficiently with fit for purpose EV chargers.

I liken this to wifi availability, we used to hope it was available onsite but now we expect it.

Any advice on planning an installation for public use?

When it comes to installing an EV charger, there are a few key points to factor in: Where is my main switchboard located? Where are the carparks, do we want to allocate to EV parking only? Will we charge for the actual cost of the charge used? How many EVSE charge point do we need?

These are some of the questions I would ask a business that is looking to add some EVSE charging points to their site. It is very important to use a business with people who are familiar with EV charging technologies and terminology.

What about health and safety, location or planning considerations?

We can look after all this in-house because we provide a total solution.

Nevertheless, here is an example of a planning consideration: When you are redoing a carpark or making changes to an existing building, at this point it would make sense to add service conduits and/or cables, for future use.

Mandy Clarke, Industry Reporter

Mandy Clarke, is an industry reporter for accomnews.com.au.

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One Comment

  1. When we were investigating putting in an ev charging station we were told categorically that it was illegal to charge for actual power, that instead we would have to charge for the parking space itself, to cover the costs. Has this changed or were we advised incorrectly? On a side note – because we decided to go ahead, we purchased a hybrid car to make use of the facility … only to discover that hybrids do not need to be plugged in, but recharge themselves. Never mind. But it does lead me to question the number in the article – I can imagine the increase to include both fully electric vehicles and hybrids but perhaps not so many cars that actually need to be plugged in.

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