Once a novelty, electric vehicles are gaining more attention as a great way to save money on gas, drive a stylish car and reduce our reliance on foreign oil. With car companies offering great incentives like low lease rates to push sales of EVs and gas still hovering at high prices around the country, owning an electric vehicle is a smart investment.
Business owners are beginning to realize the increasing demand for EVs, and smart companies are offering electric vehicle charging stations as a benefit to their employees. For many potential EV buyers who have range anxiety, the ability to charge while at work could be just the tipping point they need. And for current EV owners, topping off their charge at the office — usually for free — is a great perk.
In recent years big companies like Texas Instruments (TI), General Motors and Kroger, among others, have been adding EV charging stations to their workplaces. Incorporating the investment into an overall corporate sustainability plan makes sense for the company — it can help attract and retain progressive-minded employees and boost a corporation’s environmental image. As TI’s sustainble development manager Paul Westbrook explained to the Dallas Morning News, “We have a long line of ways to help employees find alternative commuting methods” (like subsidized bus passes and van-pool programs). “This [charging station] fit.”
To help speed adoption of workplace charging stations, the Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Workplace Charging Challenge earlier this year. At least 26 major companies have already joined the challenge, including 3M, Chrysler Group, Duke Energy, Eli Lilly and Company, Ford, GE, GM, Google, Nissan, San Diego Gas & Electric, Siemens, Tesla, and Verizon. The pledge asks the companies to assess workplace demand for charging stations and then to install sufficient charging in at least one workplace location. Companies that install EV chargers can also take advantage of federal tax credits that cover 30% of the cost of hardware and installation, up to $30,000. State tax credits are available in some states as well.
As former Energy Secretary Steven Chu explained in January press release, “The market for electric vehicles is expanding dramatically, giving drivers more options to save money on gasoline while reducing carbon pollution. These 13 companies are taking strong steps to make charging infrastructure more broadly available to their workforce – setting an example for others to follow and helping America lead the global race for a growing industry.”
The Workplace Charging Challenge is just one part of a wider effort called the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, which the Obama administration hopes will make EV ownership synonymous with vehicle ownership. The EV Everywhere mission is simple: “to produce plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) as affordable and convenient for the American family as gasoline-powered vehicles by 2022.”
Sustainable America aims to reduce oil usage for transportation by 50% by 2035, and increasing the use of electric vehicles is a critical part of that plan. We’ve highlighted the benefits of EVs and how EV prices are falling, and we’re encouraged to see charging becoming more widely available through big employers, national retailers and other public places.