Consumer Reports Investigation Into EV Chargers Finds Retailers Aren’t Living Up To Pledges
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EV CHARGING

Consumer Reports Investigation Into EV Chargers Finds Retailers Aren’t Living Up To Pledges

Electrify America EV chargers in large parking lot, Consumer Reports
  • Adding public EV charging stations is an opportunity for retailers, and big corporations had once pledged to do so.
  • A Consumer Reports study into EV chargers at big retailers has revealed that many of these promises seem to have been empty.
  • Building EV charging stations can boost business, but major retailers don’t appear to be taking advantage of this.

Some retailers seem to be enthusiastic about supporting the EV transition when they announce they are investing in EV charging infrastructure. But a recent investigation by Consumer Reports about these EV chargers found that retailers who’d said they plan to install public EV charging stations aren’t actually in any hurry to actually do so. Furthermore, most retailers aren’t adding any EV charging infrastructure at all.

That’s too bad because adding EV charging at a retail location is not only good for promoting clean transportation; it also is good for business. 


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“There is a lot of investment ongoing to building out EV charging infrastructure and a lot of opportunity to capitalize on a market,” Drew Toher, Campaign Manager, Community & Corporate Engagement at Consumer Reports, told Electrify News. “It is a matter of who is going to take advantage of this opportunity now and be a major player in the charging world.”

Toher is the author of the Consumer Reports EV chargers investigation “Charging the Future: The Role of Retail in Our EV Transition.” The “first-of-its-kind” investigation examined which retailers were leading and which were lagging in installation of retail charging stations. 


IKEA EV Charging Stations for the Win!

Image care of Electrify America

IKEA was the clear leader. The retailer has installed EV charging at nearly 100% of its U.S. locations, Toher said.

No other big-box retailers, including Target and Walmart, both of whom have touted their plans to install public EV charging stations, offer EV charging at more than 10% of their locations, the Consumer Reports EV chargers investigation found.

On average, EV charging is available at 1 out of every 14 big box store locations, according to Consumer Reports.


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For other retailers, 1 out of every 15 grocery stores and 1 out of every 40 department stores have some level of EV charging infrastructure.

Overall, only about 1% of the 270,000 retail locations controlled by the 75 retail and fast-food companies Consumer Reports reviewed offered any EV charging infrastructure.

To determine which retailers consumers would like to add public EV charging stations, Consumer Reports created a page on its website to allow consumers to express their opinions. It will use that information to “show retailers there is a demand for these services,” Toher said.


A Retail Charging Station Is Good for Business 

Enel X Way Charging Port
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It’s a shame retailers aren’t adding EV charging more quickly because having an EV charging station is good for business

While there is an upfront cost involved with EV charging installation, a significant amount of the cost can be defrayed from the increased foot traffic that a charger brings, Toher said.


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And there can be a first-mover advantage. “Retailers that are first out of the gate of this are very likely going to be the ones that are going to reap the increased foot traffic and the increased revenue that comes along with that,” he said.

That advantage has been quantified. According to one report, customer “dwell time” at a major retailer — the amount of time spent in a store — increased by an average of 50 minutes with an average spend of $1 per minute after a Level 2 charger was installed.

There also are government funding and incentives available to defray the cost, Toher pointed out. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law authorized $7.5 billion to build out national EV charging infrastructure. And an EV charger tax credit of up to 30% of the cost of installing EV chargers is available for qualifying retail store locations. 


EV Logistics Help

Image care of the US Access Board

Installing EV charging may be intimidating for some retailers. Well, there’s a website to help with that!

The Department of Transportation has a planning tool covering everything from project development to engaging project shareholders. There are many shareholders who should be involved in retail charging station expansion. 

Consumer Reports would like to see engagement from retail industry organizations as well as local governments and even automakers, Toher said. “This is all about setting it up for success.” 

Rather than making vague statements about EV charging infrastructure, he urged retailers to “commit to, and follow through on, clear, specific timelines for the installation of EV charging equipment.”

Retailers talk a lot about EV charging infrastructure. They need to do more than talk. They need to, as the investigation report says, “embrace the public” in public EV charging.

It’s a good thing Consumer Reports is working to hold them accountable. 


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FEATURE IMAGE: ELECTRIFY AMERICA

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AUTHOR: 

ALYSHA WEBB

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