It is no big news that the electric vehicle (EV) revolution is well underway, and fuel retailers are scrambling to develop commercial EV charging points (EVCPs) in order to be competitive in this brave new world.
Estimates vary but currently, around 80% of charges happen at home. This figure will decrease as EVs are adopted by less wealthy drivers who are less likely to own garages – and as the cost and time of charging on-the-go lower.
The decision to invest in a commercial charging station raises a number of challenging questions:
- Which of your pre-existing fuel sites are the best candidates to have EVCPs installed on them first, or indeed at all?
- Where should you be acquiring additional real estate that can be put to best use as profitable EV charging hubs?
Unlike wet fuels or other fast moving consumer goods, this is a new product where there is no agreed or common blueprint. Any location decision tool for any product or service – no matter how much research and expertise is behind it – needs to be tested rigorously against actual sales figures in order to be accurate and valid.
The near-absence of any such sales figures at this early stage – particularly in the kinds of locations typically of interest to large retailers – makes this modelling task almost impossible. Furthermore, customers’ attitudes to how, where and when to charge will be changing as new service delivery approaches come to market.
We at Informed Sources believe that instead of building detailed models at this point, retailers would be better served directing their focus to the present and future personas of the consumers they are trying to attract to their sites.
Is your target persona the time-poor businessperson, the stay-at-home child carer or the retiree? As each could call at any location at any time, retailers need to carefully consider who is the preferred or most common market persona for your charging station. Alternatively, investors should look for sites where the overlap of personas best ensures EV Charging success.
We know that for the moment, EV drivers are typically male, rich, well-educated, middle-aged and tech-savvy.
Where do these people live? More importantly, where do they spend time when they are on-the-go and looking to recharge?
Contrast this persona with the drivers of the emerging fleet of EVs already used by rideshare and other industries in many major European cities.
Will the demographic of the average Uber driver be similar to that of the typical recreational EV owner? Highly unlikely.
The issue is further complicated by the enormous pace of change in the sector. As prices come down and EVs are taken up by the majority, we will rapidly move away from the early adopter, “enthusiast” persona towards more “mainstream” consumers who will be looking to recharge.
We need look no further than the remarkable case of Norway, where EVs already make up around 17% of cars on the road and comprise 86% of new car sales. The target personas in the Norwegian market will differ markedly from those of, say, Poland or Australia.
In any given geography, retailers will require high quality data to let them know where each persona typically lives, the corridors they travel along, and most importantly: where they stop and spend time when. Being able to successfully integrate this data with both the pre-existing EVCP network (competitor sites) and available electricity infrastructure on the grid will be crucial.
Informed Sources’ POInter product, which falls under our NetWatch service, helps our clients answer these challenging questions.
To discover more about how Informed Sources can help with your EVCP offer, book a session with one of our sales consultants today.