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ZEV charging infrastructure: six considerations for governments

29 October 2019, 15:57 UTC 3 min read

Having charging infrastructure in place is an essential part of the global transition to zero emission vehicles. Through the ZEV Community, a peer learning forum that brings together all levels of governments to share and learn about zero emission vehicle initiatives, leading ZEV governments have shared lessons learned on their experiences with charging infrastructure.

Here are six key points that all governments taking action on ZEVs should consider.

1. Government policy can accelerate the ZEV market

The market for zero emission vehicles is growing, but not at a rate fast enough to meet climate and air quality goals. This is why governments need to take action to accelerate the market. This includes not only ensuring that charging infrastructure is available, but also taking action in range of policy areas. 

For example, governments can provide incentives to increase uptake, electrify public fleets, and set long-term targets for the number of ZEVs in their jurisdiction.

2. Install more charging infrastructure

To drive the electric vehicle market much more charging infrastructure is required and so governments at all levels should begin planning charging infrastructure programs.

“There’s really no bad charging investment. As long as we’re putting charging in places that are safe and people want to go to, we can always upgrade the underlying infrastructure” 

Tyson Eckerle, California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development

Governments should also ensure that infrastructure planning and procurement happens in parallel with other policies to increase ZEV uptake. If infrastructure lags behind, it will hold up progress.

“In general, much more charging of all kinds is going to be needed in order to really spur the electric vehicle market. So, it’s important that governments at local, regional and national level, as well as private stakeholders, get started right away.”

Dale Hall, International Council on Clean Transportation

3. Involve all the right stakeholders

There are a broad range of stakeholders that need to be involved in the development of charging infrastructure, including utilities, energy providers, landowners and businesses. Governments should take a collaborative approach, working closely with others and ensuring all the right parties are involved.

All stakeholders should be given the opportunity to contribute to the long-term implementation strategy, this will ensure that the diversity of all stakeholder interests is accounted for.

4. Take early action on multi-family buildings

Installing charging infrastructure in multi-family housing, where several separate housing units are contained within one building, is a big challenge. There are often limited parking spaces, constraints on the building’s electrical capacity, and installation of chargers can be more expensive than in single-family homes.  

Governments should act as early as possible to set requirements for the installation of charging infrastructure in new buildings, as well as buildings undergoing major renovation, as its easier to implement this when the building is under construction rather than retrofitting later on.

“Recently we passed new requirements, the big one being that for all new multi-family buildings, 100% of the parking stalls need to be EV ready.” 

Ian Neville, City of Vancouver, British Columbia

5. Stay on top of evolving trends

The transport sector will continue to evolve, so it’s important for governments to consider changing trends and new technologies and how these will affect policy needs. For example, as the ZEV market expands there could be more drivers without home charging, which would increase public and workplace charging needs.

On the other hand, fast charging and longer vehicle ranges could reduce the amount of infrastructure needed in future.

6. Make charging infrastructure visible

Having highly visible charging infrastructure helps raise awareness about zero emission vehicles and gives drivers confidence they’ll be able to charge their vehicle when needed. Governments should take this into account when planning the location of their charging infrastructure.

Furthermore, providing dedicated charging spaces in priority parking locations provides an additional incentive for drivers to switch to ZEVs.

“We created a map of what a state-wide DC fast charging network could look like...That has been really important and really useful for getting people to think about what a state-wide network could look like and helping people from rural communities see themselves in this vision.” 

Tim Sexton, Minnesota Department of Transportation

The ZEV Community includes governments from the Under2 Coalition, the ZEV Alliance, C40 Cities and the U.S. Climate Alliance.