The Environmental and Social Benefits of Commercial Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Electrical vehicle sales are becoming more popular. By 2030, sales of this vehicle are expected to reach 40 percent of total passenger car sales.
- By Emma Wilson
- Apr 14, 2023
William Morrison released the first electric vehicle in the U.S. in 1890. Though the “car” was essentially an electric wagon, it paved the way for modern electric vehicles. However, at the turn of the 20th century, motorists switched to motor vehicles powered by steam and gasoline, so electric cars took the backseat.
It was not until around 1990 that electric cars began to grow in popularity again. The uptake was initially slow, but in recent years has started to increase rapidly. In 2011, electric car sales in the U.S. sat at 0.2 percent. However, in 2021 this percentage jumped to 4.6 percent. As of January 2023, electric vehicles accounted for 7 percent of the market share, and electric vehicle sales are expected to reach 40 percent of total passenger car sales by 2030. This increase is due to environmental concerns, government incentives, improved technology, more availability and lower operating costs.
There are currently over 130,000 public charging stations across the country, but more are needed to meet demand as electric vehicles continue to increase in popularity. This article will explain how electric vehicles are defined today, define commercial vehicle charging stations and describe their social and commercial benefits.
What is an Electric Vehicle?
The term electric vehicle has changed over time since the creation of the first electric vehicle. Throughout the 19th century, the term described electric-powered cars, trucks, buses and bicycles. However, the definition has changed over time.
The first electric vehicles utilized rechargeable batteries and electric motors to drive the wheels and were typically used for short trips. Then, in the late 20th century, hybrid electric cars were created. Hybrid vehicles use an electric motor but also incorporate a gasoline engine, which enables drivers to travel longer distances.
In the early 21st century, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were developed, which allowed hybrid cars to charge using an external power source. The ability to recharge meant drivers could use electricity until the battery reached a certain point and gasoline took over.
Today, battery electric vehicles are the most common type of electric vehicle. These cars utilize electric motors and electricity stored in batteries as their primary energy source. They produce zero emissions and are considered more environmentally friendly than other previous electric vehicles. They range from small cars to trucks and buses and can travel several hundred miles on a single charge, depending on the battery and vehicle design.
Electric vehicles use home electricity, commercial charging stations or portable charging systems. Many electric cars have impressive features which gas-powered vehicles do not, such as:
- Electric motors that require less maintenance and are more efficient than gas engines.
- Rechargeable batteries that are charged on the go utilizing charging stations
- Zero emissions
- Regenerative braking, which recovers energy lost during braking and utilizes the energy for battery power
- Advanced technology, such as driver assistance and advanced safety features
- Lower operating costs because they require less maintenance, and electricity is cheaper than gas. According to a 2021 study by the Department of Energy, an electric vehicle costs around 6 cents per mile driven, while an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle costs approximately 10 cents per mile. Going 300,000 miles over your car's lifetime equals $12,000 in savings without including maintenance costs.
Despite the apparent benefits, many still haven't switched to electric vehicles. One of the main reasons individuals are skeptical about purchasing electric cars is that the battery will run out of charge before they reach their destination. Therefore, more charging stations are needed to meet growing demand and ensure electric vehicles' continued growth and popularity.
What is a Commercial Vehicle Charging Station?
A commercial vehicle charging station is an electric vehicle charging station designed for commercial or fleet vehicles which transfer people, goods and services for companies. These charging stations reside in public locations, such as gas stations, rest stops, parking lots of businesses along highways and workplaces. They are capable of charging cars, trucks and even buses.
Commercial vehicle charging stations differ from personal charging stations in several ways.
Charging Capacity. Commercial vehicle charging stations have a higher charging capacity than personal charging stations. Most are designed to provide faster charging, which can charge the vehicle's battery by 80 percent or more in less than 30 minutes, rather than charging all night at home.
Multiple Charging Ports and Convenient Charging Locations. Unlike personal charging stations, commercial ones often have multiple charging ports, allowing multiple vehicles to charge simultaneously. Many have overhead canopies to protect cars from the weather. In addition, commercial charging stations are accessible to any vehicle make and model.
Software and Analytics. Many commercial electric vehicle charging stations offer software and analytics, such as energy usage, which helps fleet managers monitor and optimize their operations by scheduling charging sessions and managing billing and payments.
Payment Options. The electric vehicle charging station owner typically pays personal electric vehicle stations through their electrical bill. However, commercial stations offer various payment options so the vehicle owner pays the bill. These payment options include pay-per-use, subscription options and payment using mobile apps and credit cards.
Installation and Ownership. Commercial charging stations are typically owned by businesses, charging network operators or the government rather than individuals. Installation of commercial electric vehicle charging stations must comply with local regulations and may require permits and approvals.
Benefits of Commercial Vehicle Charging Stations
There is a wide range of benefits to commercial charging stations. We broke these down into social and commercial benefits.
Social Benefits. A commercial vehicle charging station provides several social benefits, which include:
Improved quality of life. Commercial vehicles are one of the largest producers of greenhouse gas and other pollutants and cause dirty air in areas of high traffic. Building charging infrastructure is essential to increase the use of electric vehicles and will reduce air pollution and improve air quality for nearby residents.
Positive economic benefit. Commercial vehicle charging infrastructure for electric cars will benefit industries economically in several sectors, including increasing charging station installation and maintenance jobs, growing jobs within the installation and maintenance of electric vehicles and reducing overhead for companies that utilize electric vehicles as transport.
Improvement of energy security. Electric vehicles depend on electricity that is derived in several ways. Though the most common way is fossil fuel power plants, there are also renewable sources like hydropower, wind and solar power. Moving away from our dependence on imported oil would significantly improve our country's energy security.
Decrease noise pollution. Though great for powering large trucks, diesel engines are incredibly noisy, especially for those who live by major roadways. Commercial vehicle charging stations for electric trucks and buses will increase their popularity and, in turn, improve the quality of life for those who deal with the noise daily.
Positively impact innovation. The more charging infrastructure is available, the more people and businesses will likely invest in electric vehicles. When demand increases, so does the desire for new and improved versions, and the cycle will result in enhanced efficiency and performance of electric cars.
Environmental benefits refer to the positive impacts that result from actions that conserve, enhance and protect the natural environment. They include impacts on air and water, climate, ecosystems and human health. These benefits improve the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants.
Commercial vehicle charging stations provide several environmental benefits, which include:
Reduction of greenhouse gasses and improve local air quality. Commercial vehicles significantly contribute to carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions. More commercial charging stations will result in more electric cars producing no emissions. Lower emissions will improve local air quality and contribute to mitigating climate change.
Increased energy efficiency and lower environmental footprint. Commercial charging stations are more energy efficient than most at-home stations, which minimizes energy waste. These charging stations optimize the charging process, reducing environmental footprint.
Support and promotion of renewable energy. Though fossil fuels power some electricity, those powered by renewable energy, such as hydroelectric, solar and wind power, help reduce reliance on fossil fuels. More renewable energy results in lower carbon emissions and supports the continued transitions to a more sustainable energy system.
Increased conservation of natural resources. Electric vehicles require fewer natural resources than combustion engines typically used commercially. Electric cars require fewer mechanical parts and less maintenance and do not require fossil fuels such as gas and diesel.
Support sustainable transportation. Commercial electric vehicle charging stations provide convenient and accessible charging for individuals and companies who utilize electric vehicles. Convenient charging promotes sustainable transportation and encourages people to switch to electric cars.
How do I Install an Electric Vehicle Charging Station?
Installation of a commercial electric vehicle charging station is easier than you may think. There are a few things to consider as you make the decision.
The best location for charging stations are areas with a lot of traffic and where customers will be for a more extended period of time. For example, rest stops near highways, restaurants, shopping centers, government buildings, hospitals, doctor's offices, hotels, airports
and even universities where faculty and students can utilize the stations.
Once a business decides to invest, it must consider installation costs to ensure it is within its budget and contact a licensed electrician for an evaluation, quote and installation plan.
Commercial vehicle charging stations offer many environmental and social benefits for those who incorporate them into their business and the surrounding areas. The installation will result in a positive environmental impact, increased energy security and lower greenhouse emissions, will positively impact innovation and will promote sustainable energy. Considering the environmental impact, considering the electricity source and ensuring charging stations are energy efficient will result in the highest positive impact.