Renters Want To Go Electric, But Where Will They Charge?


By Margaret-Ann Leavitt

With roughly 15% (or 6.5M) U.S. renters now considering an electric car, multifamily dwellings are quickly adding EV charging to their list of amenities – and taking advantage of free money.

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated there were 43.6 million rent-based households in America – representing nearly 36% of the nation’s 122.8 million households. With the affordability of homeownership increasingly in question and more and more millennials opting out of buying a home altogether, the number of those renting is only anticipated to climb.

Now, layer over that these cost-conscious consumers, like so many struggling with high gas prices today, want to make the leap into driving electric. In 2018, University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found the cost to fuel an electric car was 60% less than a gas-powered car (on average $485 for an EV vs. $1,117 for a gas vehicle), and a 2020 Consumer Reports study concurred – making driving an EV a very realistic and viable option for those either on a budget or wanting to do better by the planet, or both. While the Biden administration rolled out a plan earlier this year earmarking $5 billion to fund electric vehicle chargers over the next five years, the reality is that 80% of all EV charging happens at home – so what about those renters or even condo owners who don’t have a driveway?

Given these fast evolving trends, it’s easy to see why EV charging is an increasingly valuable amenity to multifamily dwellings. In fact, a 2016 study from Multifamily Executive predicted this trajectory, finding that 15% of renters planned to buy an EV by 2021 and of those renters, the majority (58%) stated they would be willing to pay more each month to have on-site charging stations – all making rental property owners take a second look at onsite EV charging.

Aside from making renters happier (and more loyal), adding EV charging brings numerous other benefits to property owners including:

  • Differentiating your property from the competition and opening the door to more potential renters.
  • Elevating your green reputation while also reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Adding to your property’s overall value.
  • Opening up new revenue streams by hosting rideshare vehicles or providing dedicated charging spots for Lyft and Uber (who are also quickly shifting their fleets to electric).

However, probably the most important reason to add EV charging to your property now is the incentive programs.

Whether we are ready for it or not, the EV revolution is here. Most of the automakers have ceased R&D on gas powered vehicles, states across the country have either invested in or are working on legislation to advance EV adoption, and many are passing bills requiring all new construction (including multifamily dwellings and new single family homes) to pre-wire for EV charging.

Why pre-wire? While EV charging stations aren’t inexpensive, the station itself can often seem relatively cheap when compared to retrofitting properties during the installation process which can cost 8-12x more than pre-wiring during new construction. But this is where the incentive dollars come in. With President Biden committing more than $5B to building up our nation’s EV charging infrastructure, every state is developing incentive and rebate programs – essentially giving public and private property owners free money to install EV charging stations.

In Hawai’i, for example, Hawai’i Energy and the Ulupono Initiative are partnering to offer a $5,000 incentive for each station installed at multifamily dwellings. And they’re not alone. States and non-profits across the country are offering millions to increase the availability of public and private charging options to meet the growing demand.

There is no better time to act than now. Multifamily dwellings – whether they are apartments or condos – can now increase their audience appeal and their ‘greenness,’ and make both more affordable than ever. With millions of dollars in state incentives on the table, essentially giving multifamily building owners free money to install EV charging equipment, why would you wait?

Margaret-Ann Leavitt is senior vice president, marketing for National Car Charging and Aloha Charge. She can be reached at