Rose Lenoff, Growth Director at Greenspot, explores what implications electric transportation modernisation will have on small businesses and community groups
As oil prices dip to negative levels for the first time in history and as areas around the globe see as much as 50% drop in pollution levels, reduced human activity caused by the effects of COVID-19 offers the public a view into a world where environmental stewardship becomes the norm. However, following COVID-19, the world will return to a semi-normal state, and carbon emissions will once again fill our atmosphere, most likely to higher levels than before. For that reason, continuing to push forward electric vehicle solutions will remain a leading factor in the fight against both climate change and air pollution during periods of expended economic uncertainty.
This wider EV adoption is happening primarily at the local level. Municipalities, small businesses, and community groups are increasingly becoming aware of the benefits and challenges associated with modernised electric transportation infrastructure.
The impacts of these grassroots efforts are happening here and now. For small businesses, EVs offer an opportunity for both cost savings and increased income from consumers who are optimistic about a greener future. Meanwhile, community groups also benefit from cleaner air and a less-burdened infrastructure, creating the cooperation necessary to drive the future of the EV revolution. Here’s how.
Strengthening small business
81% of respondents in a recent Nielsen survey said they strongly feel that companies should help improve the environment. This isn’t just for major corporations: Small businesses seeking a greater bond with their local community can also benefit from taking part in the EV revolution. These shifts don’t just create better feelings among the customers who shop at local businesses; green tech creates more opportunities to draw in new customers while expanding the breadth of resources business owners can utilize for their own financial success.
Charging stations are a good start, as shoppers see them as an added perk. One case study found that EV chargers raised customer dwell time by 50 minutes – a 327% increase, and one that would enlarge any business’ profits. That’s not to mention the increased attention paid by EV drivers visiting from out of town, who are unlikely to lodge in hotels or visit establishments without a charging station in front of the business. Simply put, small business owners can establish a competitive edge, increase brand trust and gain new customers — all by leaning into the EV momentum and placing charging stations at their storefronts.
While cost is often a big concern for small businesses, they don’t always have to take on the cost of installing a charging station alone. For example, New Jersey recently passed legislation allowing incentives for installing EV chargers, as well as up to $5,000 in rebates for consumers purchasing a new electric vehicle. Similar legislation has passed in Utah, California, and Oregon, among others. Small businesses are sure to benefit as these types of incentives roll out to more states in the future.
While creating a realistic timeline for wider EV adoption is admirable, the change can’t wait 20 years. Business owners need these cost-saving and revenue-producing measures in place as soon as possible. Luckily, strong community support is accelerating the pace of change.
40 million Americans are considering purchasing an electric vehicle for their next car, a figure that will only grow as EVs become more visible among the general public. With such a massive number of citizens considering going electric, business owners have a stronger opportunity to draw EV drivers into their stores. And yet, there’s even greater potential to get more citizens emissions-free vehicles that aren’t dependent on volatile gas prices. How?
The biggest roadblock to wider EV adoption is the lack of public charging stations. A Department of Energy survey found that only 26% of respondents were aware of EV charging stations on the routes they drove regularly. Other surveys have found that potential EV buyers still have reservations about range anxiety – the fear of running out of juice on the road. This is despite the median EV range having increased from 78 miles to 121 in 2018, with a predicted average of 275 miles by 2022. Technology isn’t the issue – perception is.
Public charging stations will allay these fears by ensuring an electric fill-up is always within range. Community groups have a role to play in increasing EV adoption, too: Through networks like the Clean Cities Coalition and programs such as The Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, communities can gain access to funding opportunities and educational programs that widen the availability of EVs to residents. This is in addition to local programs such as Sustainable Jersey, which offer a competitive element by awarding gold, silver, and bronze stars to cities which achieve certain commitments to sustainability.
With the average price of EVs having fallen by 13% over the past year, gas-burning vehicles are no longer the only option for even the most cost-conscious consumers. This shift away from fossil fuels will have a marked impact on underserved communities, with the potential to drastically improve the health and wellness of citizens in these areas. poorer communities have been found to contain higher levels of air pollutants, meaning that making cleaner air a priority will bring us closer to a more just and equal society for drivers, business owners, and residents of municipalities throughout the country, no matter their income levels.
For all of their strengths, electric vehicles are not the sole best option in every case. Large school buses, for example, run just as clean on propane as they do on gas, and for a fraction of the price. Yet by adopting clear, actionable steps to embrace EV fleets and charging stations for both private businesses and the general public, communities across the US are better poised to adapt to a changing transportation infrastructure. The difference between communities that begin this shift today and those that delay action will only become more pronounced as we continue the carbon-free revolution.