Dale Denda and Clyde Wilson on EVs and the Parking Industry – Part 3
Clyde Wilson, of The Parking Network, picks up an interview with Dale Denda about Electric Vehicles and parking. Dale spoke at PIE 2023 on the subject in a well-attended session, including a lot of questions and audience discussion. The finer points of Parking Market Research Company’s research and the EV topic are opened up here in an interview.
Clyde Wilson: You mentioned that public chargers will curtail charging in parking facilities. Is that the same as the ‘factors developing outside of the industry,’ your words, contributing to a shrinking of the role of charging in parking, proportionally in the entire market?
Dale Denda: That’s one side of it. The availability of public chargers which are street-accessible, faster and cheaper are certainly factors which will decrease demand for charging in managed parking facilities. The interplay with other factors such as changing technology positively impacting charging time or increasing vehicle range also figure in. At each step, charging demand in managed parking would seem to erode.
Q. The Administration’s Official Guidelines for Public Funding of Chargers also includes installation in public and private parking facilities, for instance, based on the March 14, 2023 DOT statement. Doesn’t that put the Parking Industry squarely in the mix of the charging picture?
A. Right, but it’s still a qualified observation. The relevant quote reads, “The Community [Charging and Fueling Grants] Program will provide $1.25 billion to strategically deploy publicly accessible EV charging infrastructure in communities…[It] may be located on any public road or in other publicly accessible locations such as parking facilities at public buildings, public schools, and public parks, or in publicly accessible parking facilities owned or managed by a private entity.”
My larger point, again, is that any number of commercial, street accessible locations, including retail strip centers and a plethora of other spots the DOT is talking about, (and by the way, which EV manufacturers say are needed in order to keep sales going) , would clearly outnumber locations in managed parking facilities. That raises a fundamental question about how much demand for charging would actually reach a managed parking facility.
Q. But there’s a natural competitive tendency in the Parking Industry to jump into the charging game, so will we really be worried about a pharmacy down the street with a charger outside?
A. Normally, we wouldn’t take it into account, but that may now figure into the picture. Because besides ‘public’ charging being more accessible, there’s the whole issue of installation cost and what type of charger. Think about it. If there’s a consensus for Level- 2, mid-range speed chargers being installed in managed parking facilities due to cost, while Level 3 ‘Fast Chargers’ are installed elsewhere, the desirability of ‘better’ charging opportunities will be an increasingly obvious demand factor. Where those faster public chargers are located—now and in the future — will become a business issue.
I also think the presumption in the Parking Industry is that there will be a surcharge for plugging-in in addition to the parking fare. That makes it more expensive than the pharmacy parking lot charger, at least based on these assumptions.
Q. Taken together, will all these factors make EV charging not important for parking?
A. In fact, the parking industry is so vast that there will always be some opportunities for charging in a parking facility somewhere. Nothing will change that, because there will always be some folks seeking opportunity charging, looking to charge their vehicle but only when it’s really available, if the parking space is available when they need it. If there are 12,000 or more managed off-street locations, and that’s a conservative estimate, certainly many of these are opportunities for charging an electric vehicle. Questions about cost (surcharge for EV charging), accessibility (EV charging is behind a closed gate) and available EV spaces (availability of an otherwise unused EV charging stall at any given time) are the issues that cut demand. The question remains, in any given location, at what scale demand occurs? There are many variables. We don’t understand that trend yet, however the need for charging in parking will be marginal… again, this has an upper limit because so many other opportunities for charging will become available. So, for parking, EV charging is a necessary amenity, but it is a necessarily limited amenity. After all, everyone else will be in the ‘charging as an amenity’ business, so we are locked in by the same assumptions.
Q. Will we be talking about this issue in 5 years?
A. Yes, and as I said, it will be confusing for several years ahead as to what exact state of demand for EV charging is established. But I also think the narrative focus will change to other issues.
There are some really big energy generation and storage issues revealed by our research. Some of it is very complicated, but there are legitimate questions as to whether the entire ‘net zero’ or ‘replace all other sources of energy with renewables’ goal is even technically possible. One part is based on a yet to be shown engineering solution for practical energy storage capacity – wind and solar facilities provide only intermittent power, which must be fully backed up by something. I’m not trying to be too cute, but a future Administration could ‘pull the plug’ on EV charger deployment if an argument is made that there are too many Pollyanna assumptions in terms of meeting climate concerns.
Q. What does that mean?
A: Collapse, no more EVS at a scale on the street that makes a difference, because of too few chargers. That’s relevant to the parking industry because without public subsidies, too few EVs would be sold -- and marginal demand is part of the confusing picture of the period we are entering.
Q. Anything else?
A. Oh yes. Closer to home, there are some practical engineering questions we’ve learned about. For instance, electrical reliability – EV owners expecting to see their battery bar grow – will become a consideration for the power supplies to these EV charging stations. This will lead to consideration of redundant electrical feeds, emergency generation, presumably to ensure enough power ALWAYS so that the user can expect that there is no problem charging. But, if any location gets a reputation for having ‘poor charging,’ well… there are consequences!
At the electrical utility level, Level 3 Fast charging will add to the demand on an already taxed electrical grid. Fast charger stations draw significant power and utilities are sometimes already stressed providing adequate power – and that’s not even talking about ‘sustainable energy sourcing’ as a factor.
Q. But the capacity of a public power utility grid and Green Energy are outside of what we even talk about in the Parking Industry, right?
A. Right, and that points to where we should be looking to determine future charging demand – outside of the Parking Industry, which is not yet clearly evident.