Part 1: Electric Cars and Charging Stations – Is Your Pennsylvania Community Association Ready?

Posted on Friday June 17, 2016 |



Within the past five years, nearly half a million cars in the United States have been able to drive past gas stations – and it is not because they have always had a full tank of gas. It is a result of the influx of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) that have been purchased in this country since December 2010, when the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt – the first mass-market PEVs – rolled out and made their stylish debut.

What are PEV buyers actually purchasing? A PEV is a broad classification for any vehicle that is operated by battery power, even if it is only by a percentage. There are two major types of PEVs:  BEVs (battery-electric vehicles) and PHEVs (plug-in hybrid vehicles.)

  • BEVs run entirely on electricity charged into their battery. Therefore, BEV owners are reliant on charging stations for them to travel. They can typically travel approximately 70-100 miles on a full charge. BEVs are zero emission vehicles because they do not have gas engines.
  • PHEVs, or hybrid cars, are vehicles that can run on either battery power or gas. PHEV owners have the option to either recharge their batteries or fill their gas tanks at the pump – this option of using gasoline lessens “range anxiety” when a charging station isn’t in sight.  PHEVs can drive up to 35 miles on electricity alone, or more than 300 miles in electric/gas hybrid mode. Typically, PHEVs have low emissions rates, which can vary on how much gasoline is used.
Today, there are over 25 U.S. and 50 global PEV model options available, with more automobile manufacturers and feature-enhanced electric car models rolling off the manufacturing belt each year. While the original push in sales primarily came from early adopters, innovators and technophiles, an increased number of mainstream buyers are learning about the environmental, emotional, budgetary and other benefits of electric cars, and those numbers are growing.

Although all PEVs are more costly than their traditional gasoline-run counterparts, their lower operation and maintenance costs paired with environmental sustainability pay off in the long run. Another benefit includes federal tax credit eligibility for PEV owners– $7,500 for BEVs and under $5,000 for most plug-in hybrids. Additionally, the Pennsylvania energy company PECO currently offers residential customers a “Smart Driver Rebate” for those who invest in an electric car. As additional models come on the market that include more benefits and better features, electric cars have become more attractive to mainstream buyers.

The escalating sales volume of electric cars, especially electricity-only BEVs, means more drivers are seeking charging stations conveniently located close to their work or home – or a request for them right in their communities. As a result, this is impacting condo boards, homeowners associations, and community associations across the country, especially in large multi-family communities, and requiring these boards to reevaluate and cater to their residents’ needs.

Installing an on-site charging station can enhance a community’s “green” image and make a community or high-rise building more desirable, depending on its demand for your residents. To help you decide if building a charging station in your community would be a smart move for you, be on the lookout for our follow-up article Part 2 – with information and guidelines to help your association on this topic.

To keep up with the latest ways to enhance your homeowners’ lifestyles, contact FirstService Residential, Pennsylvania’s leading property management company.

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