Are you behind the EV Curve?

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March 01, 2015
Electronic Charging Stations
Dan Phillips - dphillips@dare2i.com

Is your hotel behind the trend to provide electric vehicle (EV) charging stations? Or, are you like me, and until researching for this article I didn’t even know there was a trend?


Electric cars and hybrids have been around for a while, and they’ve got to recharge somewhere. At the time of this writing there are approximately 280,000 electric vehicles in North America. By 2020 the number of these cars on the road should reach 3 million (source, www.cleantechnica.com). Current take rates across the United States are small, but in states such as California and Georgia, take rates are just above 5 percent of cars sold. There are municipalities and power companies that have public solutions, and of course, consumers can go to places like Home Depot to purchase their home based charging stations. But what about hotels?

One aspect of hospitality is to find new amenities in which to attract and satisfy guests. More and more people are driving EVs (EV, in this article is inclusive of Battery Electric Vehicles, BEV, and hybrids, or PHEV for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles). By providing EV charging stations your hotel will attract and retain this growing customer base. And, tying this solution into guest loyalty programs and co-marketing campaigns can make your hotel that much more attractive.

Mike Calise, head of electric vehicles at Schneider Electric, said, “Hotels are really the perfect place for charging stations because you have guests staying overnight, giving their electric vehicles (EV) ample time to get a full charge with a mid-range level 2 station.”

This industry has provided some guidelines toward classifying charger. A level 1 charger runs off of a 110 plug, at a power level of 1.8 kWh and could take recharging a car from 12 to 24 hours. Commercial solutions start at level 2, which run off of a 220 volt plug, cost between $5,000 and $10,000 for a dual station, at a power level of 7.2 kWh and may take from 3 to 8 hours to recharge a car. Level 3, or DC Quick Chargers, run between $25,000 and $50,000 to install, at a power level of 50 kWh but can fully recharge many cars in just 30 minutes.

The next step is installation. Partnering with an expert will be a big help. New power lines will need to be run to the charging stations, and some of these solutions are on an IP network, which provides a wealth of features and requires connectivity. Smart terminals can generate user statistics and other analytics but may also enable interfaces to PMS for more hospitality specific applications. In addition, smart terminals can then be proactively managed. There is even another acronym for this management that needs to be considered, that being OCPP, or open charge point protocol.

Jordan Ramer, founder of EV Connect said, “The essential difference between closed station networks and open station networks in the EV charging industry is interoperability. For hoteliers, such as Marriott, open systems mean easy interoperability between front desk operations and the charging systems, so that guests can reserve specific charge systems at specific times as easily as they reserve a room. For the hospitality industry, open systems are creating new opportunities to attract and serve guests.”

Is a solution like this really viable in our industry? Diane Estner, founder of DANNI Enterprises, said, “I began DANNI Enterprises to support fresh concepts for the hospitality market. Bringing a new, highly relevant technology, like charging stations for electric cars, to hoteliers is just one example. Hoteliers have an opportunity to support and personalize the overall guest experience by offering a place for guests to ‘charge up’ more than their bodies.”

There are several major hotel companies researching these solutions now. And, smaller, boutique style brands have already implemented charge station programs. This list includes companies like Caesars, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Loews Hotels, Starwood, and Auberge Resorts. 
 
ChargePoint provides over 20,000 charging ports across North America. Communications Director Erin Mellon said, “Hotels can attract visitors who are more likely to come back knowing they can plug in during their stay.”

Also there are Federal incentives or rebates related to implementing these charging stations, and many individual states have similar programs. If you are a LEEDs hotel, or are considering applying for that distinction, providing of such charging stations may earn points toward that certification.

So, if you are a hotel in which a good portion of your guests drive to your location, you might want to hop on the EV charging bandwagon.

Dan Phillips is a partner at Dare to Imagine and can be reached at dphillips@dare2i.com.

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