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Estates Gazette: How can property owners make a return on EV charging infrastructure?

Bruce Galliford explains how RAW Charging handle the planning, installation and management of electric vehicle chargers on behalf of real estate clients across Europe.

The UK Government has committed to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, putting the UK on course to be the fastest G7 country to decarbonise cars and vans. This forms part of the UK’s plans to accelerate to a greener transport future. What it does mean is that we need electric vehicle charging infrastructure now, and in great quantity. This is a huge opportunity, one that is challenging businesses across a variety of sectors and one that should be a top priority for property owners.

According to Zap-Map there are just over 25,000 charging points in the UK. This is already not enough and currently the electric vehicle market only accounts for 1.6% of cars in the UK. Imagine by 2030 when that figure passes 20%, 50% and so on.

To combat the issue there are a number of solutions: converting petrol stations to electric stations, home garage charging and on street lamppost charging to name a few. However, it is our belief that the key to delivering electric vehicle charging will be the underserved, very fast growth destination charging market. This is a market where property owners can make a real difference.

How can property owners make a difference and make a return on EV charging infrastructure? First of all, let us look at property asset owners such as retail parks, office parks, pubs and hotel owners. It is not going to be long until consumers expect to have reliable EV charging at scale at these sites. These sites, where consumers may spend over an hour shopping, watching the latest Bond film or having lunch, are the perfect place to charge your vehicle. In fact, 35% of drivers in the UK won’t be able to charge their EV’s at home. Is your 8th floor flat in Stretford going to have a wire dangling out of it to charge your car? No. This is why property owners will need to provide EV charging infrastructure.

So, what is in it for the property owner? The correct EV strategy, taken across a portfolio of assets can clearly enhance the value of the site, improve yields going forward and keep customers happy. There is also an opportunity to utilise some land that may currently be wasted. For example, RAW has recently installed an urban charge yard for a pension fund managed by Abrdn on half an acre of land that had been sitting unused at the back of an office park. This clever piece of asset management has taken part of an asset that was generating no return, to an asset that is now an integral piece of the office park. So, the message is, look at your whole portfolio and develop an EV strategy, which is a fundamental part of our approach.  It could help your return profile going forward.

What else should property owners be aware of? Well, EV charging deals in pennies not hundreds of thousands of pounds. EV charging businesses are used to dealing with the many thousands of small transactions a day and may be better placed to manage that as well as the physical chargers on the property estate. This approach minimises risk for the property owner whilst giving them the upside of meeting a growing need from their customers.

The shift to electric vehicles is well underway and with it we, at RAW Charging, see a huge opportunity for property owners to generate new income streams by delivering a scalable EV strategy across their estates to meet the needs of their tenants. There will be intense competition for en-route charging among incumbent forecourt operators and there are slim margins for home charging operators. We are building one of the UK’s largest portfolios of EV charging sites at captive locations like your office, the supermarket and the retail park. These sites give property owners the chance to generate returns in a way that is predictable, scalable and most importantly of all, expected of them by their customers.