14 Nov 2023

Why Destination Charging Is So Important For EV Drivers

Statistics from the International Energy Agency (IEA) show that electric car sales are growing exponentially worldwide. The UK is no exception to the rise in electric vehicle (EV) uptake. With 2023 sales expected to break all previous records, providing an improved EV charging experience is high on the agenda for businesses who are welcoming an increasing number of EV drivers to their sites, including those in the retail, leisure and hospitality industries.

Crucial to this is the development of greater ‘destination charging’ facilities in the UK. Read on to learn what destination charging is exactly, and why it is essential for EV drivers now and in the future.

Understanding destination charging

So, what is destination charging? Destination charging is where charging takes place either at the start or the end of a journey. Those two set points in a trip are ideal places to charge EVs. The car is normally stationary for a long period of time and ready to receive an uninterrupted electrical charge.

Research from the RAC Foundation, entitled “Standing Still,” shows that cars spend 96% of their time parked. The analysis also breaks the 96% down even further, into 73% of the time parked at home and 23% elsewhere. Therefore, if EV drivers are not charging at home, then where they travel is a key location to charge their vehicle.

This trend is backed up by our recent research, which found that 70% of UK EV drivers have limited public charging options where they live. Our statistics found that when UK EV drivers are on the move, there are a number of different places they like to charge. Here are the statistics for the most popular places:

  • 49% charged at supermarkets
  • 41% at public car parks
  • 40% at motorway service stations
  • 29% at retail parks and shopping centres
  • 29% of business and leisure guests that stayed at hotels
Destination charging can also have a big impact on EV driver behaviour. Our research also found past experiences and the availability of EV charging stations heavily influenced 71% of our respondents when they were choosing motorway service stations.

The role of destination charging

In the context of EV charging, a destination can be defined as wherever an EV driver goes in their car and intends to stay for a certain period of time. This could be going to work or somewhere for leisure, such as a hotel, restaurant, retail park or cinema. This destination is precisely where EV charging needs to be. It also makes sense as we try to encourage the adoption of EVs for the mass market, providing convenient, easy-to-use EV charging points.

When a business installs destination charging correctly, it gives EV drivers the convenience they need when charging their vehicles. For example, an EV driver will drive from A to B, and when they get to B, they should already know the following information:

  • There is charging at the destination
  • What type of charging is at the location
  • A level of certainty that EV charging will be available for them

Creating a complementary charging solution

Identifying the right type of charging for a destination can depend on many things. Just a couple of those factors are how long people stay (dwell time), and how far they may have travelled (how important is the demand). Every site is different, and a detailed assessment can ensure that the right solution is provided. It is essential for customer retention that EV charging complements the situation and the location.

For example, if the charging station is in a retail park in a city centre or slightly out of town, most people going there will be coming from a relatively local distance. Businesses need to ask the right questions to determine the need for fast EV charging and/or slower charging stations that may suit the demand far better.

The distance people travel and the use case should be considered. For example, if you look at a hotel as a destination location. People will typically have driven from a longer distance. That means there is a demand for charging overnight with a higher volume of charging (the number of chargers/sockets installed) instead of fewer and faster EV charging stations.

Charging anxiety: the new stress factor for EV drivers

On top of this, EV drivers also have a new stress factor. EVs a decade ago could only travel 30-50 miles on a full charge, and you would need to regularly stop to charge. We are seeing less and less range anxiety because the range of many new EV’s is increasing significantly each time a new model is launched.

Now, most new medium and family-sized EVs have a 250/300-mile range. This range is almost equal to the corresponding petrol/diesel cars. Considering the average daily car journey is 20-30 miles in the UK, it can make range anxiety a thing of the past, with availablity of chargers now the main concern for EV drivers.

How destination charging can help charging anxiety

Understanding why EV drivers suffer from charging anxiety can help hospitality businesses create the best charging options. To get the charging experience right, you need to get into the minds of EV drivers. Our research found that 67% of EV drivers find it stressful thinking about charging availability for long journeys.

On any given day, EV drivers have several thoughts running through their minds. Here are the top three:

  • I know I can reach my destination with my current charge
  • I might be able to do a bit of charging on the way to my destination
  • At my destination, I might need a significant charge before I set off again
Taking a break, and therefore an opportunity to charge, whilst on a long journey to your destination is advisable. An EV driver can have a comfort break and top up the charge in the EV. This ties in with rule 91 of the Highway Code, which states you should take a break from driving every two hours.

But what about when they get to their destination? Are they right to feel anxious with charging anxiety? What can the hospitality industry do to help?

Offering the right charging at your destination

When an EV driver arrives at a destination for a leisure or hospitality event or to stay in a hotel, the driver must feel comfortable that their car can achieve a full or nearly full charge to complete their journey back. In this typical scenario, destination charging in a hospitality location can really help. 

The hospitality business can install EV charging infrastructure and confidently tell EV drivers charging is available on their site and is the correct type of charging. This offering gives EV drivers the convenience they want. It can also help to reduce and, in most cases, eliminate charging anxiety.

Booking EV charging in advance

Giving drivers the ability to book charging in advance should also be high on the priority list for destination locations. Our research found that 81% of drivers must wait for an EV charging point. It’s a negative statistic that might put people off certain establishments. 

Interestingly, following this statistic, our research discovered that 67% of EV drivers will pay a premium to reserve a charging bay. Also, 33% of these respondents would pay up to £5 per day for the privilege of doing so. This demonstrates that charging anxiety is a real problem and EV drivers are looking for destinations to provide the right solution whilst willing to pay a premium for peace of mind.

Benefits of destination charging

Any destination location must ensure it uses the data around its customers' behaviour. As a hospitality business offering charging, you must have an understanding of who comes, when they come to your site, and how long they stay there. It’s all about providing the three Rs:

  • Right time
  • Right location
  • Right speed

Accessibility and convenience for EV Drivers

Destination charging must be more convenient for EV drivers when the industry moves to the mass market. The charging on offer must be frictionless to encourage EV adoption. As EV charging becomes more accessible, electric cars will become more commonplace.

Hospitality businesses can maximise revenue by using the proper charging infrastructure. Considering the user experience, you can match or slightly increase dwell time when people are charging. This extra time on site can positively impact the hotel's Total Revenue Per Available Room (TRevPAR).

Creating the right solution for long-term revenue

It’s also far better not to look at charging revenue in silo. For example, the wrong charging infrastructure might offer attractive financial benefits. However, if it is not convenient for EV drivers, they will charge elsewhere. You could lose revenue from a drop in food and beverage sales.

It would be easier if you had the right EV charging infrastructure. Our research found that the availability of EV charging influences 67% of people booking a hotel. If the infrastructure is wrong, you’ll see a revenue drop over time.

Working with a partner like SMS can help you design a solution that complements the location and satisfies the needs of EV drivers. We have demonstrated that hotels could generate additional significant annual revenues (tens of thousands) each year for every charge point.

Destination charging is a lucrative business, and there is no better time to get involved and install EV charging infrastructure. At SMS, we are experts in end-to-end EV charging solutions. Contact us directly to unlock more revenue opportunities for your hospitality business.