The Most Common Questions Future Energy Receives from Dealers
The world’s leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have announced commitments to electrify their fleets by as early as 2030. Future Energy answers the most common questions that we receive from dealerships as they begin to electrify their inventory.
Q: When will we receive battery electric vehicles from our auto manufacturer?
A battery electric vehicle (BEV), commonly known as an EV, runs solely on an electric battery. Unlike a hybrid or vehicle with an internal combustion engine, a BEV has no gasoline engine and relies on energy from the electrical grid.
Dealers awaiting their EV inventory should ask their OEMs for a specific timeline. Future Energy recommends talking to the OEM as directly as possible. Ask these basic questions:
- When can we expect that production will start on electric vehicles?
- When will we be seeing EVs on our lot?
Production timelines tend to be fluid but try to nail down the timeline for accuracy. For example, ask for a more specific answer than “the latter half of 2024.”
Many OEMs will indicate that production “is scheduled” for a certain time to avoid commitment to a specific date. But to move forward with electrification, you need to budget for associated costs. Your OEM should offer your dealership explanations of its full expectations for the EV product line, expected inventory, and timeline. OEMs are prioritizing dealerships that have existing EV infrastructure.
Q: What are the OEM’s minimum requirements for me to receive a full BEV inventory?
Each OEM has different requirements for their dealers. For example, Stellantis told its 2,600-plus North American dealerships to have their charging infrastructure installed by the first quarter of 2024.
To prepare, each Future Energy’s client receives a customized EV Impact Study. Even dealerships with similar inventory may have varied requirements. The EV Impact Study calculates a dealership’s infrastructure requirements based upon factors related to inventory volume. In particular, we consider how much inventory a dealership carries in a normal year as well as the number of EVs that the OEM projects it will deliver.
Future Energy’s formula also accounts for:
- Battery capacity of the EVs that comprise the inventory
- Approximate mileage to be incurred from test drives
- Average time an EV will sit on the lot
- Percentage of battery charge when the vehicle is delivered
Future Energy considers these and other relevant factors in determining the kilowatts that a dealership will require on a daily basis. Overall, Future Energy recommends that every dealership installs at least one level 3 charger to top off the battery of a newly purchased EV for the customer. Also known as direct-current fast chargers (DCFCs), level 3 chargers can fully charge an EV in about a half hour. Level 2 chargers work for general inventory management, as they charge at around 40 miles per hour. With software to manage EV inventory charging cycles, a dealership can keep EVs on the lot at an optimal 70% by charging overnight with level 2 chargers.
Q: How much do level 2 and level 3 EV chargers cost?
Many of our clients ask why incorporating EV charging is so expensive. The answer is that there are many factors that determine cost, not just the price tag on the individual chargers. A major expense derives from the upgrade of the electrical infrastructure. The utility will have to cut the concrete, run new lines, install the appropriate transformer, and rewire panels.
There are additional soft costs associated with EV chargers, such as the installation of bollards, signs and branding, parking spot painting, lighting, and other ancillary structures.
Cost calculations become additionally complex because there’s money available to offset the price. There are incentives, rebates, and grants available that businesses can use toward EV installation costs. For our commercial clients, Future Energy’s Financial Incentive National Database tool identifies 99% of available money that, in many cases, can offset 100% of EV charger installation costs.
That said, the cost of an individual EV charging unit also depends on a number of factors. Level 3 chargers are the most expensive. This is due primarily to the ability of a level 3 charger to convert alternating current from the grid to direct current that the EV battery stores. Level 3 chargers can cost from $40,000 to greater than $100,000 each.
Level 2 chargers are significantly less expensive, but they also charge EVs at a much slower rate. Their range of cost depends on whether or not the EV charger is public facing. The cost of a level 2 charger ranges from $2,500 to $5,500.
Q: Can my building support the addition of EV charging stations from an electricity standpoint?
The short answer is yes. Nearly every building is capable of supporting the addition of EV charging solutions. However, in most cases the building will require an electrical upgrade to support the additional electricity required to flow to the new equipment.
Many OEMs are requiring that their dealers install at least one level 3 charger. But very few dealerships have the electrical infrastructure required to support level 3 charging. Level 3 chargers run off 480-volt, three-phase power lines that are standard for industrial plants. The OEM level 3 requirement will put high demand on utility companies to order the necessary hardware and schedule the upgrade.
For dealers awaiting EV inventory, it’s critical to get in line now for an electrical upgrade. Some smaller, understaffed utilities could be many years behind. As experts working with the 5,000 utilities across North America, Future Energy coordinates a dealership’s plans and helps get to the front of the line for a utility upgrade.
Q: Can my regular electrician install EV charging stations?
Yes. A licensed electrical contractor has the necessary capabilities to install an EV charging station. But like most aspects surrounding commercial EV charging solutions, there’s a lot of nuance involved.
An electrical contractor has a job to do and is not necessarily considering the effect on your business. For example, the electrician may choose to run the shortest conduit possible from the transformer to the EV charging equipment. However, what if the truck drops off your EV inventory—with discharged batteries—two acres from the EV charging site? Or what if the electrician places an EV charger somewhere conveniently accessible to power, but the location interferes with your service bay?
As an EV charging installation consultant, Future Energy has certain standards and specifications particular to the installation of EV chargers at dealerships. Our customized EV Impact Study carefully plans the requirements of each installation project as part of your entire business ecosystem. Future Energy oversees and facilitates installation to ensure that the contractor considers the needs of the business when determining the plans.
Q: Who can help my dealership get ready for our incoming EV inventory?
Future Energy understands the pressure on dealerships to get ready, and we are here to help. Contact Future Energy today for answers to all of your questions surrounding EV charging solutions.
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