With charging stations in front of your business, you gain access to new forms of branding, media coverage and new customers.

If you’re a business weighing whether or not to install charging stations, there are several benefits to consider.

Cost Versus Benefit

For most businesses it all comes down to return on investment. If installing a Level 2 charge station costs you, as an example, $3,000, will you ever see that investment returned? (See our “Available Equipment” page for a description of what “Level 2″ means; see our “Getting Ready” page for a discussion of what your business needs to do to install a station).

This is a complicated question to answer and it depends on how you view the different benefits associated with having an EV charging station on your premises. Here is a list of benefits you will likely see:

  • Increased media coverage. Most charging station companies are always looking for ways to include successes in their press releases and communities around the world and nation are vying to be recognized for their EV friendliness. As a result, if you install a charging station at your place of business you can be sure you will, at the very least, be included in press releases—you may even be called to do interviews and be part of national broadcasts.
  • Advertising forever and for free. Every electric vehicle sold from here to the future will have a navigation system with a listing of all the charging stations available in the country. When you install a charging station and get it listed properly for free, your business name will show up on every electric vehicle’s navigation map without you having to do anything else.
  • New marketing tool. Looking for ways to spice up print/radio/television spots? Being EV friendly provides yet one more tool in your toolbelt to be able to brand yourself and get the attention of a new group of customers. Certainly EV drivers will be drawn to you, but so will the large and growing group of people that support what EVs stand for.
  • Streetside/storefront branding opportunities. You will be able to put up signs in front of your business, and likely at the curb, advertising that you support electric vehicles and have a charging station. This opens up new marketing opportunities and another way to set your business apart from the rest.
  • New electric vehicle customers. Although electric vehicle drivers will be sparse until 2015—EVs will likely become increasingly more popular over the next decade—if you are one of a relative few businesses to have a charging station you are guaranteed their business, regardless of the number. Seattle is one of the five launch markets in the country being provided with millions in federal and private funding to bring lots of EVs there. Those thousands of EV drivers will be on the lookout for new places they can take their vehicles.
  • Tax credit—get money back. As a business you qualify for a federal tax credit up to 30% of the purchase and installation price of an electric car charging station—a maximum of $50,000. Given that the average cost to install a commercial Level 2 station should be about $3,000, that means you will get $1,000 back on your tax return at the end of the year, making the net price $2,000.

There are also other side benefits that are less directly calculable and will be more or less important to individual business owners:

  • Knowledge you are supporting local energy. Electricity is always generated relatively locally, and in the case of North Central Washington it is hyperlocal, supplied by dams within a few dozen miles.
  • Knowledge you are helping to reduce dependence on foreign fuel. Every electric car that replaces a gas car is one more step towards weaning the U.S. off of foreign sources of energy.
  • Knowledge you are helping to reduce pollution. When used for a transportation fuel, electricity is always much cleaner than fossil fuels—and here in North Central Washington it is almost 100% pollution free.