An electric future
It’s 2030: the streets of Amsterdam, Paris, and London are awash with electric vehicles, shared mini-scooters, and cargo-bikes. Our cities are fully electric, diesel is the new coal and petroleum-related travel is a no-go. But how did we get here? Well, just over a decade ago, we realized that the global climate crisis truly was a crisis. Extinction Rebellion protests hit our streets; governments started to introduce EV incentives en-masse; your work canteen turned fully vegan. Yes, you heard it right: completely vegan. Against the backdrop of these incentives and with EV technology rapidly advancing (especially EV batteries), electric transport has become globally cheaper than diesel/gasoline alternatives. By 2025, governments had already rolled out public chargers across Europe and subsidized private ones. Heck, the Netherlands was one enormous EV charger by this point. By 2028, diesel and gasoline cars were doomed. Norway was the first to go, banning all non-electric vehicles once EVs’ market share hit 86% in 2024. Spain, France, and Italy rapidly followed suit and the rest weren’t far behind. So that’s how we reached our electrified present here in 2030. In some ways, it was inevitable: once the climate crisis combined with technological advancement, things had to change – and boy did they.
This might seem like the beginning of a utopian novel. But actually, it’s merely a fictional rendition of what most scientific research predicts the future of electrified transport will look like, particularly in developed urban centers. To look at today’s picture, fully electric vehicles have already surpassed 50% of the market share in Norway. The streets of the Netherlands, among other EU countries, increasingly feature EV chargers. Today, the future of e-mobility and the EV market is a hot topic. But we rarely examine just how EVs and their charging infrastructure could impact industries or certain parts of our lives.
This article will focus on the impact of EVs and their chargers on some common service industry businesses. Electric vehicles and their charging points are typically associated with conversations around energy and transport planning. But how might the growth of EVs and rising demand for charging points impact some of the services we use on a daily basis? Let’s take a look.
Firstly, a quick guide to EV charging points:
(Source: Netherlands Enterprise Agency, 2019)
1. Public charging points:
An EV charging point that provides 24/7 access to all members of the public. Different operators (usually local governments) opt for varying authentication, use, and payment systems – they may be free, or they charge per hour or watt.
2. Semi-public charging points:
EV charging points that are accessible to all but may have restricted public access due to parking or opening times. Examples include charging points in underground car parks; hotels, restaurants, and catering (HORECA) businesses; and service stations. There may be restrictions on the use of these charging points – for example, your local café might allow you to use their charging point for free if you buy a cappuccino, but charge a fee if you are not a buying customer.
3. Private charging points:
Private charging points are installed on private sites – such as homes and workplaces – and connected to a private electricity supply. These charging points are usually only accessible to EVs belonging to the owner of the charging point.
Examples of service industry businesses that’ll be covered in this article:
- Entertainment venues, such as stadiums or concert venues
- Shopping venues, such as shopping malls, individual retailers, and supermarkets
- Horeca venues, including bars, cafés, and restaurants
- Tourism and travel venues that offer additional services, such as airports and hotels
How will EV charging points impact the service industries?
1. Infrastructural and operational change
When it comes to the spread of EVs, the most obvious impact on service businesses will, of course, be the growing need to install chargers! This isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. That’s because it requires both infrastructural and operational changes. Once the decision has been made to invest in chargers, and possibly an electrified company fleet, businesses must set about selecting the kind of charger to install, and where. Important factors to consider when making such a choice include the different partnership and revenue-sharing models on offer from EV and EV charger companies. You’ll also need to think about exactly who will be using the chargers – employees, customers, or both?
For premium service businesses, like luxury hotels, shopping centers, or restaurants, matching the look and feel of customer chargers with their luxury branding is more important than for, say, fast-food chains or supermarkets. The location and distribution of those chargers are also vital. For example, shopping centers might want to position customer chargers near the main entrance to their public car park, and employee chargers near their respective entrances, to ensure smooth flows through the relevant entry points.
All these decisions call for detailed planning. They’re also closely linked to many key business processes: marketing, operations, and customer experience, to name just a few. In light of that, hotels, restaurants, airports, or other service businesses looking to expand their EV capabilities might want to hire an in-house advisor or external consultant to help roll-out their new EV charging infrastructure. For those on a tighter budget, the cheaper option would be to choose a reputable charger provider and ask them to advise you about the chargers that would best suit your business’ needs. Some providers will even provide a bespoke service. At Wallbox, for instance, we design EV infrastructure for our clients’ specific needs, including their specific branding and technical requirements.
2. New services
EV charging is the new WiFi. Access to the internet via WiFi is a minimum expected service for most customers, second only to running water. As diesel and gasoline vehicles are phased out over the coming decade, access to the grid via EV chargers will be thought of in the same way. We’re all familiar with scanning over the symbols for free WiFi, swimming pools, a gym, or free parking whilst booking accommodation or scrolling through booking.com. Well, EV charging is the new symbol on the block. In the same way that you opt for the hotel that includes the services you need, EV charging will become an expectation for customers as EVs become the norm.
How far-reaching your EV charging service is will depend on your business type and the partnership model you opt for with your charger provider. Perhaps it’ll always be free, maybe you’ll charge by the hour, or build the service into customer packages. Businesses like hotels may want to offer the charging service free, as part of the guest experience; supermarkets, concert halls, and cafés may instead choose to charge the general public but keep the service free for customers. For more premium brands, such as airport VIP lounges, luxury restaurants, and hotels, charging can be made part of the whole guest experience. Luxury hotels might include EV charging as part of their valet service, for instance. As a real cherry on the customer experience cake, luxury service businesses could even offer video monitoring of their vehicles that’s accessible through the hotel or restaurant app.
3. Bidirectional chargers: energy and cost-efficiencies
For businesses like shopping centers, restaurants, concert halls, airports, and hotels, switching to an electrified company fleet has an obvious cost and energy-efficiency benefits. Saving money and no longer being at the whim of petrol price fluctuations are just two examples of these advantages.
Lesser known are the benefits of investing in bidirectional chargers for either employee and customer vehicles. Unidirectional chargers (most EV chargers) send energy in one direction from the grid to the vehicle. These are often referred to as ‘grid to vehicle’ (G2V). However, the increasingly popular bidirectional chargers allow energy to flow back to the grid and to houses or buildings. These are often known as ‘vehicle to grid’ or ‘vehicle to house or building’ (V2G or V2H/B). For high-energy businesses such as hotels and airports, EVs could actually provide an important source of energy during power failures. The simultaneous growth in investment in renewable energies and advances in battery technology will likely open another application for EVs: to store back-up energy. For instance, they could offer storage possibilities for energy from onsite renewable sources like solar panels, and bi-directional chargers will be essential to this.
4. New streams of business revenue
Finally, service businesses that install EV chargers will be able to earn extra revenue for this service. Though different service businesses will opt for different pricing models, those that charge can make serious revenue increases, and open new streams of income to diversify their offering. What’s more, those businesses that do install chargers will likely see a boost in original income streams anyway, since customers will likely choose their brand over others that don’t offer such services. Investing in EV chargers is always a win-win situation!
EV-based competition has already begun
If you’re already an EV owner, you’ll already be making a distinction between those businesses that support EV charging and those that don’t. After all, if you’re thinking about which supermarket to go to, why would you even consider the store that doesn’t allow you to charge? As EVs become the norm, the gap between the charging “haves” and “have-nots” will only grow wider. This isn’t just because customers need to charge their vehicles. Businesses that invest in chargers at this stage will be able to accumulate data insights into charging and car park use that can drive continuous improvements to customer experience, giving these companies an even stronger competitive edge.
As examined in this article, the roll-out of EV charging stations will have serious repercussions across the service industry. This is no bad thing though: the outlook is exciting. In spite of the need for an initial investment in EV charging points, the overall result is massive business benefits for those that do invest. These range from a more loyal customer base, to cost and energy efficiencies, to added income from charging services over time. It’s time for service businesses to jump on this opportunity, especially if they want to prepare themselves for the electric future before everyone else does.
Read about Wallbox’s charging solutions and discover how you could electrify your service industry business here.