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U.S. ratio of public plugs to BEVs is 11:1, expected to deteriorate to 29:1 in a decade.

Dealers Need to Help Lead the Charge for BEVs

An Urban Science report shows lack of infrastructure slows BEV sales efforts.

Only half of auto dealership staff are excited about battery-electric vehicles, according to a recent poll by Urban Science. Their top concerns center on charging infrastructure availability.

Adequate charging infrastructure is a bigger issue in some areas than others, says Simon Bradley, global practice director, Network Planning at Urban Science.

“In the U.S., you have to look at (charging infrastructure) market by market. We predict the (B)EV transition (will occur) geographically,” he says during a recent webinar.  

The geographic data helps determine “which dealers need to be more ready for (B)EVs, how to distribute inventory and where to build charging networks,” says Bradley.

The U.S. BEV-to-plug ratio is currently 11:1, says Urban Science. By 2033 that will have deteriorated to 29:1. Those ratios are based on public charging and do not include home and workplace charging, however.

The ratio of plugs to total number of BEVs and convenience of location of those plugs are the two most important factors in determining charging infrastructure readiness, says Bradley.

California, Florida and Texas already have problems with enough charging infrastructure in metro areas, based on a study by The Harris Poll and Urban Science. By 2033, Urban Science estimates California will have 6.8 million BEVs while Florida and Texas will have 2.9 million each. Bradley doesn’t estimate the number of plugs needed in each state.

Los Angeles plugs are “pretty convenient, but the plug ratio is out of balance,” he says. One market really stood out, though: Houston. “It was the worst market I mapped,” he says.

One probable reason is that dealers are lukewarm about selling BEVs. Only 50% strongly agree that “my current staff is excited about EVs” though 53% strongly agree “my current staff is prepared to sell EVs,” the study found.

Dealers are more worried than consumers about issues related to the lack of charging infrastructure. The poll found 38% of dealers were concerned about the distance a BEV could go on a single charge, the same percentage as consumers polled.

But 35% of dealers are concerned about low availability of charging stations versus 27% of consumers. When asked about proximity to charging stations, 26% of dealers polled were worried, compared with only 17% of consumers.

Some of the divergence between dealer and consumer concerns may be because of the type of BEVs purchased. Urban Science predicts 1.4 million BEVs will be sold this year, evenly split between premium/super-premium and non-premium.

However, by 2033 non-premium BEVs will account for 6.7 million of the total 9.2 million sold, predicts Urban Science. That points again to a potential problem – too few public charging stations.

The poll found that the automotive buying public would spend $1,100 to install home chargers, but 37% live in multi-family dwellings where that is not feasible.

“Up until now the market has been a premium market,” says Bradley. “They are expensive (and) bought by single-family households charging at home. As non-premium (BEV sales) rise, we will see greater dependency on public charging.”




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