Why workplace charging is critical to EV adoption


By Zach Henkin

June 23, 2022

The transition to electricity for powering light-duty vehicles is impossible to ignore. Automakers are announcing more battery-electric cars, which are being sold alongside plug-in hybrids and fuel cell counterparts.  

And while most existing drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) can charge overnight at home with a 120-volt “trickle” charge or a higher voltage Level 2 charger, many drivers – now and in the future – will need to rely on public or workplace charging stations. This is especially true for people without dedicated parking at home or with parking spaces that lack access to electricity.

The federal government is investing a minimum of $7.5 billion in EV charging infrastructure, much of it to be deployed by state governments, to address the growing need for charging away from home – especially along heavily traveled corridors.

Another solution is to help EV drivers charge while at work. 

Workplace charging supports EV adoption 

A recent forecast by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that public charging, including workplace charging, will need to grow to 2.4 million non-home chargers to support the path to EVs becoming 100% of new car sales nationwide by 2040. 

This shows the need for the EMPOWER project, a three-year U.S. Department of Energy-funded project to advance workplace charging awareness and implementation for employers across the country, particularly those in lower-income communities. As part of the project, the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) will evaluate and support research with a national workplace charging initiative led by the Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition

Workplace charging benefits employees and employers

For an EV driver, the workplace can be a primary source of charging or an optional way to extend driving range. The U.S. Department of Energy found that employees with access to workplace charging were more likely to drive a plug-in vehicle, indicating a possible correlation between EV ownership and workplace charging accessibility.  

For an employer, providing access to workplace charging can support environmental, social and governance goals and be part of a hiring and retention strategy. Free or low-cost EV charging could also help attract remote employees back to the office.   

Employer support is critical to overcoming barriers such as the cost and time it takes to advance a workplace charging program, but so too is employee input. The first step is to engage employees and ask about their transportation needs and interest in EV charging. That input and data can guide the development of a workplace charging policy and determine the benefits to the company of such a program.

Among the questions employers will need to explore are:

  • What time of day and day of the week will employees most want access to charging?
  • How many charging stations are needed to meet anticipated demand?
  • Should employees pay a fee for workplace EV charging?
  • Should charging stations be accessible to the public?

Workplace charging is an amenity employers should consider to benefit employees, the community and society. The EMPOWER project will bring fresh resources and a new ambition to advance workplace charging around the country and connect interested organizations to funding, education and technical support. CSE’s research will explore the measurable impact of workplace charging both to the community and the EV market.

If you’d like to be added to future communications regarding this project, contact transparency@energycenter.org.

Zach Henkin

Director, EV Program Research

Zach Henkin is the Director of EV/EVI Program Research at the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), where he leads research and analysis focused on adopting and using electric vehicles and infrastructure at scale. Zach brings over 10 years of experience researching transportation electrification,…

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