Electric vehicles (EVs) are quickly becoming more visible on the nation’s roads, with almost 200,000 sold over the last few years. There are many reasons to switch to an electric vehicle, but many drivers have gone electric to save both time and money getting to and from work. Switching to electricity means fewer (or no) trips to the gas station and often access to HOV (carpool) lanes to speed up a commute. However, many people are still hesitant about purchasing an EV because of “range anxiety,” the fear that their charge will run out leaving them stranded.
One way manufacturers have addressed range anxiety is with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), which are electric vehicles that can use stored grid electricity but can switch to gasoline when the battery gets low on charge. The electric range of today’s PHEV ranges from about 10 to 40 miles. For some commuters, this range is enough to avoid any gasoline use, but for others it’s only enough for part of their daily round-trip.
Workplace charging can play an important role in making EVs more attractive and effective. Charging at work is useful to enable longer trips for all EVs, but it is especially useful for PHEVs, because they have a shorter battery range than all-electric vehicles. Workplace charging could increase (in many cases double) the electric miles for PHEVs.
In our recent survey conducted with Consumers Union, we found that while about half of drivers report daily trips of 40 miles or less, three quarters drive less than 80 miles on a weekday. Workplace charging would mean a significant increase in the number of people who could have an all-electric commute in a PHEV. Our survey also found that about 35% of households could be able to use a PHEV, but lack parking or access to a plug at home. For these households that don’t have convenient charging at home, having workplace charging could enable them to purchase an EV.
Why companies should provide charging
Workplace charging can obviously benefit an employee with an EV, but how does it help the employer? There are a number of reasons that companies from big to small have chosen to make workplace charging available. Providing access to charging helps employees save time and money on commuting and makes for happier employees. It’s also a relatively inexpensive benefit to provide that can increase employee retention. Installing higher power 220V recharging equipment will charge EVs at a quicker rate, but even just providing access to a standard 110V outlet can be very effective since most people leave their cars in the parking lot for 8 hours or more at a time.
“The motivation behind Evernote’s robust workplace charging program is unique: to increase employee productivity. By gaining access to HOV lanes in their PEVs, some of our employees have cut their commute in half. In our mind, a shorter commute means a happier, more productive workforce.“ Maeanna Glenn, Special Projects Manager at Evernote (source: PEVC)
Workplace charging can also be part of an organization’s commitment to sustainability:
“Sustainability is at the core of our mission and using alternative energy and electric transportation is a natural expression of it. For our operations, we strive to create an integrated system – with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral. Electric vehicle charging and electric vehicles are a big step in that direction” – Albert Straus President of Straus Family Creamery (source: PEVC)
Resources to advocate for workplace charging
You might work for an employer that already has EV charging available, but most people aren’t that lucky. So how do you convince your bosses to provide charging?
It’s going to depend on many factors, but there are some excellent resources out there to help you and the guides listed below are good starting points.
Workplace Charging: Why and How: A walkthrough guide on covering everything from payment schemes to what physical requirements should be looked at.
EV Everywhere Workplace Charging Challenge: Employers can sign up to take the “Workplace Charging Challenge” to get technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy and be recognized for their success in providing workplace charging. The website has toolkits, case studies, and recorded presentations to help inform employers about workplace charging.
Also available are 20 short case studies of companies ranging from 7 employees to thousands of employees.
How Can I Get Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging at My Workplace: This guide gives suggestions for how employees can ask their employers to create workplace charging stations, including how to phrase compelling arguments and rebuttals to objections.
Need Electric-Car Charging at Work?: A guide to how employees can strategically campaign for charging stations in their workplace.
CALSTART Best Practices: Detailed information for employers and employees in with some California specific information.
Charging While You Work: An excellent guide to employers and employees on the desirability of workplace charging and the installation process. Some of the information is specific to Minnesota.
Support from UCS members make work like this possible. Will you join us? Help UCS advance independent science for a healthy environment and a safer world.