The technology behind electric vehicles (EVs) and automated parking systems has advanced tremendously, promising to revolutionize how we drive and park our cars.
And while we’ve yet to reach the technology level of Orbit-City (the hometown of George Jetson and his family), challenges posed by the use of Electric Vehicles are causing many to rethink how we plan our cities.
The number of electric vehicles (EVs) in the US alone has surged 250% over the past five years. EVs now make up 4% of the cars on the road.
Robotic Parking Systems park cars more efficiently and in half the space of traditional parking lots. They are safer and greener as well. But what may not be known is that Robotic Parking Systems facilities fill a massive need in the infrastructure necessary for wide-scale adoption of electric vehicles.
In a Robotic Parking System, EV charging stations are integrated into the parking spots, making it easy and convenient for EV owners to charge their cars while parked (Technical Specifications here). This can help increase EV adoption by making charging more accessible. (For more information see Emerging technologies & Automatic Electric Vehicle Charging – Frequently Asked Questions.)
The cost and efficiency of EV charging in traditional concrete parking structures – or on lots and streets for that matter – fall far short of what a Robotic Parking System provides. In a Robotic Parking System, EV charging stations are integrated into the parking spots, making it easy and convenient for EV owners to charge their cars while parked. This can help increase EV adoption by making charging more accessible.
Filling Up and Charging Up are NOT the same
The critical challenge in the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is how we “fill up” / “charge up” our cars. Charging challenges are divided into time, availability, and cost.
Each of these three categories requires a change in existing infrastructure and a change in behavior on the part of consumers.
Since Robotic Parking Systems facilities can enable every parking spot with unlimited EV charging, it provides an infrastructure solution as well as a solution to the problem of changing consumer behavior.
“Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others. ”
― Jacob M. Braude
There are three levels of EV charging.
Level 3 / DC Fast Charging, the fastest charging option, takes 30 – 60 minutes. However, routinely using this fast-charging option can hurt an EV’s battery. Depending on the make of the car, it can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000 to replace, so taking care of them is important.
Level 2 chargers, like the ones used for an oven or clothes dryer, can charge an electric vehicle in 3 hours.
Level 1 chargers which use a standard 120-volt connection available in any household outlet, take 20 – 50 hours to charge a vehicle.
No matter what level it is, however, the time it takes to charge an EV is much longer than the average 2 minutes it takes to fill up a gas tank.
To deal with the length of charging time required, EV owners generally charge their cars at home at night. This overnight charging process is relatively simple for individuals living in a single-dwelling home.
For millions of others who live in apartments and condos, the time and logistics of charging EVs can be much more complex and even impossible. As a result, many must consider alternative charging locations such as the workplace or public charging stations to consider purchasing an EV.
Apartment complexes, office buildings, shopping centers and any entity providing parking benefit considerably from the construction of a Robotic Parking System which offers its users Level 2 charging (3 hours to charge). The parking and charging solution offered by Robotic Parking Systems satisfies a tremendous need for EV drivers, better than any other method.
Lastly, the time required to charge EVs poses a challenge for all EV owners taking long trips. The extra time and the lack of availability of chargers mean that careful planning for long trips is required, a behavior change that will be easier for some.
Some concrete parking garage structures have several parking spaces with dedicated EV stations. Additionally, shopping markets and other types of businesses have begun to partner up with EV charging companies to allow charging stations to be placed on their properties. As a result, applications have been created to make it easier for EV owners to locate charging stations.
Whether a driver charges their car at an EV charging station in a concrete parking structure or one situated at a business, one thing is true: when their charge is complete, drivers are expected to disconnect their vehicles immediately and move their cars so other customers can access the charger. In some places, drivers may even be ticketed for leaving their car in an EV charging space while not actively charging.
To allow for the additional time involved with charging their vehicles, EV drivers must adopt a new behavior—they must monitor the time while their vehicle is charging and ensure that they can return to their vehicle to either leave or move it when it has completed charging.
Patrons storing and charging their vehicles in a Robotic Parking System face no such time restrictions, allowing them to carry on with their daily business, unhindered by the need to schedule a return to their car to move it.
3. Electric Vehicle Purchase and Charging Cost
Not only is the purchase cost of EVs 33% higher than gas-powered cars, but there is also a high upfront cost for the Level 2 chargers made by most current EV users.
Level 2s can charge EVs in three hours, much faster than the 20-50 hours required from the Level 1 charge provided by a standard household plug. The average cost for equipment and installation of a Level 2 charger for a home is $1100.
For EV owners with access to a Robotic Parking System, the investment in Level 2 charging equipment could become unnecessary, making EVs more accessible to a significant portion of the population.
For cities and developers, the cost of providing charging stations varies greatly depending on the venue. For example, the cost to install a sidewalk charger is around $50,000. On the other hand, adding a charging station in a concrete garage is about $15,000 while adding a charger to a parking place in a Robotic Parking System costs around $8000.
Changing Behavior in the move from Gas to EV
People don’t change their behavior unless it makes a difference for them to do so. – Fran Tarkenton
To make the paradigm shift from gas to EV, consumers will need to change their behavior to adjust for the time, availability and cost of operating an EV.
The researchers behind The Behavior Change Wheel, identified three key contributors to behavior:
- Capability: can the individual physically and mentally engage in an activity
- Motivation: is the individual energized to engage in an activity
- Opportunity: do factors in the environment allow one to engage in an activity
Items one and two are both internal contributors to each individual and are influenced by education, and modeling, among other things.
Item three, opportunity, has everything to do with the external environment and the infrastructure that is established. Government, city planners, developers and EV companies play a huge role in putting EV-friendly infrastructure in place.
Not only do consumers need to change their behavior, businesses, developers, and municipalities do as well. For example, when considering parking, in the past developers had limited options: a lot or a concrete parking structure. Today, Robotic Parking Systems offers a third option, a flexible and scalable option that will continue to serve as transportation technology evolves. However, considering this option is very new to many developers.
Policies and tax incentives are being implemented across the US to encourage consumers to drive EVs and businesses to offer EV charging stations. In August 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act came into law which contains numerous clean energy incentives, including tax credits for the purchase of EVs and charging equipment as well as tax credits for businesses.
The combination of EVs and automated parking creates a more sustainable and efficient future for transportation. Thanks to subsidies for EV charger installation and tax incentives, this combination also has economical benefits. Providing Level 2 EV charging stations in each parking spot, with a seamless transition once vehicles are done charging (meaning EVs drivers don’t have to race back to their cars to prevent being ticketed!) makes it easy and convenient for EV owners to charge their cars while they are parked. This can help increase EV adoption by making charging more accessible and convenient.
As these technologies continue to evolve, we expect to see more developers and municipalities opting to solve their parking issues with automated parking facilities, making it even easier for people to switch to EVs and enjoy the benefits they offer.