Electric Vehicle Charging for Retailers

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) has partnered with the Retail Industry Leaders Association, Atlas Public Policy, and David Gardiner and Associates (DGA) to assess the market and current barriers for electric trucks and charging infrastructure within the retail sector. This joint initiative assesses the market landscape, challenges, and opportunities for electric truck and passenger charging infrastructure adoption among retailers and their transportation partners.

In this phase, the project team interviewed utilities, charging station service providers, and non-profits to investigate whom retailers should be engaging as they design, install, and operate fleet and passenger vehicle charging infrastructure at their buildings.

  • The key external stakeholders for retailers to engage during the charging infrastructure development process are utilities, charging station service providers, product suppliers, delivery services providers, and retail customers. These groups provide access to financial incentives, technical advice, and customer insights. Of these stakeholder groups, utilities are the most important because they can provide retailers information about commercial rebates and consulting services that assist with fleet electrification. They are the parties most involved during the entire infrastructure process.
  • Early and continuous communication between retailers and utilities is essential for success throughout the process. The utility needs to be aware of where and when fleet charging station installations are happening and plan for any potential utility infrastructure upgrades, especially for medium- and heavy- duty vehicle and Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC) loads.
  • Selecting a charging network service provider who has worked with other retailers on deploying fleet and passenger charging infrastructure within the same business segment such as a fueling station or grocery store is ideal. The charging network service provider’s experience can avoid or forestall technical issues the retailer otherwise would not have anticipated.
  • For passenger and fleet charging, charging network service providers offer amenities that benefit customers and retailers. This includes visibility into and control of charging stations to provide real-time data and insights for future planning, syncing with the grid to provide adaptability with time-of-use rates, and allowing customers to use a mobile phone app to manage charging and make payments.
  • Since many retailers do not own their delivery vehicles, engaging with their third-party logistics providers about potentially using EVs and the fleet charging options retailers plan to implement at their sites is key. This will allow retailers to meet their internal supply chain targets while reducing fuel and logistics costs for both retailers and supplier fleets.
  • As vehicle electrification becomes more commonplace over time, retail customer preferences and charging behavior are likely to change, along with technology availability. Surveying customers regularly to assess their experiences at retail charging locations is key to maintaining a competitive edge in the market.

How C2ES works to advance electric trucks and charging infrastructure

Jessica Leung, C2ES Solutions Fellow, on Electric Vehicle Charging for Retailers