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What if the CEO asks me about… electric vehicle charging points?

Published on 08 March 2023

The adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads is growing, and with that comes an increased demand for EV charging points. However, the uneven distribution of EV charging points across the country is now presenting an opportunity for retailers in the fight for customers.

With the government's promise to invest significantly into the installation of new EV charging points, clear opportunities lie within the retail industry to not only become charging destinations but to also increase customer visits, loyalty, interaction times, and raise the sustainability profile of both the site and the retailer.

Why is there a demand for EV charging points?

The writing is on the wall for petrol and diesel cars, with the UK government planning to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. The government is also committing itself to arguably one of the UK's biggest green energy investments in years – a £1.6 billion cash injection to expand the UK's EV charging network. Around 300,000 public chargers are expected to be available by 2030, which is the equivalent of almost 5 times the number of fuel pumps on our roads today.

However, records indicate that the lack of EV infrastructure is the second most cited reason for customers choosing not to switch to electric vehicles. Government data also indicates that existing charging points are not evenly distributed throughout the UK. As of 1 January 2022, London had double the number of EV charging points compared to all other regions of the UK, save for Scotland (52 for every 100,000 population).

Why is this relevant to you?

Data published by Virta Origin and Kantar & Virta found that 87% of drivers (current and prospective EV owners) stated that the presence of EV chargers had an impact on the retail store they go to. In fact, retailers who already offer EV charging points to the public (for a small fee) have reported that the very presence of EV charging points boosted custom and footfall.

By adding EV charging stations to a retail development sooner rather than later, you can therefore build on existing customer loyalty. This, and the fact that people in diesel and petrol cars are adopting more restrictive travel patterns as a result of the significant rise in fuel costs, highlights an opportunity to win new customers and attract people back to high streets and shopping centres.

The introduction of EV charging points can also be part of your wider environmental strategy and help you play your part in the green energy revolution. EV installation can, for example, be combined with concurrent or subsequent installation of renewable energy solutions offsetting additional costs whilst also increasing your sustainability profile. To illustrate, last year, Tesco rolled out a free EV charging network to 500 of its stores nationwide with the successful result of a reported surge in usage of EV charging stations of 300 percent. According to Tesco, since the first launch of their EV charging scheme in 2019, charging points have provided more than 41 million miles of free electric driving to motorists – the equivalent of travelling from Earth to the moon and back 85 times.

What practical steps can you take now

If you don't currently have any EV charging points:

  • Consider the implementation of EV charging points as part of your environmental strategy and to tap into customer demand.
  • In any event, make sure that your parking facilities comply with the current legislation in this area. At present, the law requires all new non-residential buildings and non-residential buildings undergoing major renovation with more than 10 parking spaces to:
    • have a minimum of 1 EV charge point; and
    • have cable routes in place for one in five of the total number of spaces.

Failure to comply with these requirements could result in enforcement, injunction or prosecution proceedings being taken against you, though as the law in this area is still quite new, it is yet to be seen how local authorities will deal with a breach in practice.

If you do already offer EV charging points:

  • Consider whether you should be expanding your current offering to "future proof" your site and further incentivise longer shopping or regular visits.
  • In addition, consider whether the introduction of an EV charging loyalty scheme could further generate increases in custom and footfall. For example, some retailers have developed loyalty programs which specifically cater to EV drivers and include free charging, free stays at hotels and wine tastings. Enticing EV drivers with special deals can bring them back to charge (and shop) more often.

If you are a retail tenant taking a new lease (or negotiating a renewal lease) of a retail space with your landlord, consider the installation of EV charging points and securing any necessary consents (and/or funding) at the early stages of negotiations.
Disclaimer: The information in this publication is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We attempt to ensure that the content is current as at the date of publication, but we do not guarantee that it remains up to date. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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