Blog: EV Charging: Is this the right time to invest in EV charging stations?

July 18, 2022  |  REINT JAN HOLTERMAN

As electric vehicles (EVs) head toward a tipping point, the question now is how can service station owners leverage the full potential of EV charging.

Never have electric vehicles been as popular as they are today. In 2021, global EV sales more than doubled, tripling their market share from two years earlier. According to the latest Electric Vehicle Outlook, by 2030, EV sales are expected to grow by 31%, and major automakers aspire to make 40%–50% of new car sales electric. 

Electric vehicles within consumers’ reach 
Sustainability-conscious consumers are playing a large role in the increased demand for EVs. With prices for battery pack prices falling nearly 90% between 2010 and 2020, electric-powered vehicles are becoming more economical to build and purchase. The choice in EV models is also growing. In 2021, approximately 62 (mainly high-end) car models were available, now, just one year later, there are over a 100 models, including trucks and SUVs, making electric vehicles more appealing and affordable to consumers (source: Morning Consult, 2021).

Despite all these positive indicators for a growing adoption of EV, there are still a number of topics to think through before getting started.

Where to charge…
Especially in large cities and metropolitan areas, electric car drivers often do not have their own charging point at home. Public charging points, such as those at gas stations, can help fill the gap in the charging infrastructure. Sometimes, government programs are in place to stimulate investments in an EV charging network. As the need for charging while traveling continues to increase, fuel stations – or maybe we should call them mobility stations in the future? – play a key role here, as they are already present with their infrastructure along highways and within cities.

… and how to earn money?
In many cases, retail customers can often charge their cars for free using an EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) at the parking lot while running their errands. However, this is expected to change. Many retailers have either announced or already implemented steps to move away from free charging options. Reasons include high electricity prices and the lack of upsell possibilities. Customers charging their car do not always go inside the store – they simply wait outside. 

Charge point operators (CPOs) can generate revenue through the charging process itself, i.e., by selling electricity. The advantage here is that charging is not tied to service station opening hours and is therefore possible around the clock. Installing an EV charging station also offers the opportunity to generate income by trading CO2 certificates. In addition, revenues can be accrued by combining the charging process with other commercial services. This requires CPOs to adapt their business model and develop new customer journeys that not only bring in extra revenues but also increase consumer loyalty. 

New business models arise
A large proportion of fuel station profits is derived from the sale of high-margin convenience items, such as snacks and coffee. The challenge now is to combine charging with shopping in a smart way. A charging process at a hyper-charger, for instance, takes 15 minutes. To ensure this is not "time wasted," sharing additional in-store offers to anonymous visitors directly via the EV charger station’s screen can help drive in-store traffic. Personalized incentives for customers who are already participating in your loyalty program can also be shown. 

Other options include picking up a parcel from the e-locker or integrated parcel store or running daily errands in the form of "buy online, pick-up in store” (BOPIS). Also, the combination of shopping and recharging - e.g., the first five minutes of charging are free for customers who spent at least 20 dollars on in-store purchases - creates attractive incentives and increases customer retention and loyalty. This calls for creativity, especially in the case of service stations located in city centers that face competition from nearby convenience stores. 

Availability and consumer loyalty go hand-in-hand
To keep customers coming back, it is critical that the EV charging stations are working properly at all times. Nothing is more disappointing than pulling up your EV with a nearly empty battery only to find out the charger is out-of-order.

 In the event of malfunctions, faults must be rectified immediately. When intelligent service and maintenance solutions such as predictive maintenance or remote access are used, availability rates of over 99 percent are possible - an essential prerequisite for high customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, and for winning over new customers. In addition, lost revenues due to downtime is reduced for the charging operator. 

Faster results, happier customers
Service station operators have a significant influence on how they generate sales with EV charging stations and attract new customers. It’s important is to carefully think through what you want to achieve and what business models best apply to your EV charging ambitions.

As a specialist in both EV charging and retail-related solutions, such as customer loyalty, self-service checkout, in-store mobility, and managed services, Diebold Nixdorf is your go-to business partner who can help you with this. Our EV charging offering is centered around four pillars: consultancy, hardware, software and availability services. We offer consultancy how to best set up your charging stations based on the business models you foresee; perform third-party charger hardware advice and installation; ensure optimal charger availability and up-times through our global network of 11,000 specialized services technicians and our strong spare part logistics; and build and/or integrate specific software extensions for an optimal customer experience. You will have an end-to-end solution managed and serviced by one business partner, which guarantees all your service station processes run efficiently, and that the charging station is operated reliably and safely right from the start and at lower costs.

Diebold Nixdorf has a decades-long and vast experience in working with fuel and convenience retailers across the globe. Combined with our in-depth knowledge of EV charging technologies and global reach, we are the preferred service partner for many leading EV charger hardware manufacturers and CPOs. So, whenever you decide to embark on this new and exciting EV charging journey - or want to expand your EV related business into new markets, Diebold Nixdorf may be just the business partner you are looking for!

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