At Veloz, our vision is that 100% of new cars sold throughout the state and the nation are electric. We often tout ditching the gas station and charging up at home — like you do your cell phone every night — as one of the greatest benefits of owning an electric vehicle.
However, if we’re going to achieve our transportation electrification goals and bring the benefits of pollution-free, gas-free car ownership to more people, we need to find more ways to plug-in at townhouses, apartments and condos — known as multifamily or multi-unit dwellings. Installing charging infrastructure at multifamily dwellings is one of the biggest hurdles facing the transition to electric vehicles.
There are two main issues that must be overcome to make multifamily dwelling charging easier:
- The high costs of building new charging infrastructure.
- The logistical difficulty of retrofitting older buildings that don’t have the power capacity or panel space.
When it comes to the cost, significant funding is coming from the federal government over the next few years to all 50 states to support the build out of charging stations. As these funds are distributed, EV supporters can take part in the public process to ensure funds are allocated to multifamily dwelling projects. In California, another influx of funds could come from the state’s record surplus budget. California Governor Gavin Newsom has already asked that at least $10 billion be dedicated to vehicle electrification, with a large percentage going toward charging infrastructure. The California Energy Commission and Air Resources Board will have an open process for how to allocate these funds, which is another opportunity to ensure multifamily charging infrastructure is made a priority.
We also must make doing the right thing easy if we’re going to get it done and the difficulties around installing multifamily charging infrastructure can include everything from the type of charger to installation logistics to charger location. Some experts believe an L2 charger should be placed in every parking lot and stall at every apartment building, which would make it as easy to charge for a renter as it is for a homeowner, but that could take a long time and put a large cost burden on property owners to implement. Some believe that L1 chargers should be installed, which could be a cheaper option. On the other hand, many other experts agree that installing a charging station plaza — essentially replacing the gas station — near an apartment building with L1, L2 and superchargers, is the way to go because it could be installed more quickly and, potentially, more affordably.
Many communities are already implementing building codes to ensure all future multifamily buildings are either electric vehicle-capable, meaning the power and pathways needed are available; electric vehicle-ready, meaning the pathways, wiring and panels are all ready for charging station installation; or electric vehicle-installed, meaning the charger is there and ready for use. Local utilities are offering incentives to property owners to install charging infrastructure. For example, Veloz member Sacramento Municipal Utility District is offering upwards of $6,500 to install charging stations through CALeVIP. And, Veloz members EVgo and Electrify America are taking advantage of other funding sources to ensure more public charging is available in more neighborhoods across the U.S.
While all this activity shows signs of progress, it’s not happening fast enough. Renters who already own electric cars are frustrated with the cost and red tape associated with trying to get charging stations installed at their apartments. Even as automakers make more models, EVs become more affordable — especially in the face of sky-high gas prices — and a growing used EV market emerges, renters are still forced to stay in gas-powered cars due to the lack of charging options where they live.
We need to take another look at the multifamily dwelling charging problem and consider holistic solutions that address systemic problems that are keeping costs high, forcing delays and causing frustration for everyone involved. That’s why Veloz is hosting a webinar on the topic of multifamily charging infrastructure. As the convener of major stakeholders, we will have a deep conversation that looks at each of these areas of concern so we can move forward together.
We hope you’ll join us as we continue to identify and break down barriers to a healthier, more prosperous and electrified transportation future for all.