Plugging in

By Steve Murphy, Managing Director of APT SKIDATA

How can retail destinations take advantage of the rise in EV ownership?


Devising your approach to introducing EV charging technology – and managing it once you have it – can be tricky. It can be difficult to know where to start and since the landscape is constantly evolving, and so too is the potential demand for EV charging in public places, so what might be right for your site today may not be right for it tomorrow.

But there are very sound reasons why you should add EV charging to your car parks, and why you should continually assess what you are offering to see how you should expand it in line with growing demand from the increasing number of EV drivers.

The inclusion of EV charging within your car park provides not only convenience for your customers who can charge while they park but can also attract new customers and how much you yield from car park tariffs. Establishing your drivers needs and deciding how you want your drivers to interact with the EV charging, the car park, the local service or the shops is essential.

The retail landscape has changed over the past 2 years beyond all recognition. What actions you take with your EV charging solution will again change that retail experience.

Once a decision has been made as to how you want your drivers to interact with your car park and EV charging, how is it managed ongoing? Sometimes it is good to have multiple suppliers, sometimes it is easier to have one with one shared database and one tool to manage everything. Cost of operation is key to making revenue on EV charging.

So, what do you need to consider if you are just starting out on this journey?

Assess the opportunity

It is important to understand your particular site and consider the best area within the car park to start with, taking into account groundwork and electricity supply location along with accessibility, shopper footfall and employee parking. You don’t have to have all of the answers yourself – this would be a good time to bring in a partner to help you assess the opportunity.

Prioritise Customer experience

You will also want to start looking at the most appropriate technology to install and suppliers to work with. While there are a growing number of options available to you the most important part to remember is that the chargepoints should be as easy to use – the customer just wants to plug in and shop. The best user experience by far is for EV drivers to pay for their parking and their charging in one simple transaction at your standard pay machine or on exit, making it as seamless as possible for them. So it pays to seek out a charging solution that integrates with our parking system.

To protect your investment and to keep your customers happy, you also want the chargepoints to be reliable, and for them to be maintained by a trusted partner to minimise the risk of them being out of action. You will also want to think about what support the car park team can provide to help customers if, for example, they struggle to initiate the charging process.

Use data

As a parking specialist we have seen car park operators and owners grapple with the new challenges that arise once charging infrastructure has been installed. Often the root cause of this is that the EV charging is not integrated with the car park management system. They can’t easily track customer usage patterns and they don’t know what tariffs to set, and can’t implement the flexible pricing which they know will keep customers coming back. Data is incredibly important not just to help you strip out this confusion today but because it gives you the insight for what to do going forward and this is why our new EV charging solution seamlessly integrates with APT SKIDATA’s Parking.Logic car park management platform.

Powerful choices

Choosing the right type of chargepoint will largely come down to the dwell time of the EV driver and the energy capacity of the site. For shoppers visiting for an hour or two, 22kW chargers give good cost efficiencies and future proofing for new cars and batteries that will be coming onto the market in the coming year. But 7kW charging can also be sufficient especially if you can accommodate longer dwell times and are looking at low investment to start with.

Scale up

The approach is to start small and scale up. You could start with changing just 4 or 8 standard spaces initially and considering the rising number of EVs on UK roads you can expect this figure to be 40-50% of your spaces by 2030. What will be important is having the right data and intelligence from your car park management system to show the utilisation and guide you as you scale up the charging provision.

But the point is that you ned to start somewhere are not get left behind.

The demand for EVs and chargers has surged in recent years, with a 66% increase in the number of EVs on the road since 2019. While there has been a rise in the number of public EV chargers, with 22,000 available, the number is limited when you compare it to the 1 million EVs on the road, resulting in a ratio of 1 charger per 43 EVs. And with EV charging being the most obvious ‘bolt on’ service within a car park, retail destinations find themselves in a perfect position to support greener motoring.

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