With Chevrolet’s introduction earlier this year of an all-new electric vehicle (EV) that will cost less than $30,000 after federal tax rebates and be able to travel 200 miles on a single charge, not to mention the recent announcement of the $35,000 Tesla Model 3, EVs are poised to become more prevalent at apartment communities.
AIM 2016 will take a careful look at how EVs and other growing automotive trends will impact the user experience in the “Parked Cars, Electric Cars and Driverless Cars – The Future of Auto Technology and Rental Communities” session on Monday, May 2, from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Peter Zadoretzky, director of sustainability for Bozzuto Management Co., will be one of the panelists on the session, and in this Q&A he discusses how multifamily communities are currently accommodating EVs and car-sharing services and what the future may hold in store for these amenities.
Are you seeing significant demand at Bozzuto communities for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and car-sharing services?
Zadoretzky: Yes to both, but with an asterisk for each. A lot of times for new projects, this serves as a checklist item for a green building certification, or as part of a development requirement with a city, such as Boston or Washington, D.C. Almost all of the new projects we have in the pipeline have at least one charger set aside in a dedicated and prominent location in the garage.
Carsharing has been around long enough that residents more or less expect it to be on site, or very close by – at least in urban situations.
I would like to say there has been an uptick in demand for EV stations in our existing communities, but honestly there really hasn’t been. A couple of times a year, I’ll get an inquiry regarding a resident who wants to buy an EV or a prospect who is ready to sign if we can have an EV station ready for them, but otherwise I think many owners are in a wait-and-see mode with their existing portfolios.
Is the demand for these amenities limited to a particular region of the country or type of apartment property?
Zadoretzky: Certainly in our urban assets, a significant portion of our residents want to live car-free, or if they are a couple, maybe only have one car. This is followed closely by our transit-oriented developments that are a little more suburban – we’ll have this demand if the residents know they can get by with a nearby rail or bus stop. This does not seem to be limited to any one demographic, either.
Do the charging stations and car-sharing services offer significant ancillary income opportunities for your communities?
Zadoretzky: It is my personal belief that car charging should not be counted on as a source of ancillary income. I liken it to unfairly targeting or burdening someone who is trying to do the right thing (i.e., lowering their carbon footprint). This gets complicated in some situations, as in many of our garages our residents have to pay per parking space. If we have “dumb” equipment, we’ll often add a nominal fee to that space but offer “all-you-can-drink” charging.
Alternatively, we’ll have dedicated networked, or “smart”, chargers that are pay-as-you-play. I urge our owners and property teams to implement a pricing structure that recoups cost (electricity plus administrative fees) but no more.
Car-sharing is different. When it first came out (and this was before my time at Bozzuto), it is my understanding that many car-sharing services would pay to be on our properties. Now, it is oftentimes a net-neutral arrangement, where we get the benefit of having an amenity on site that residents want or expect, often with a related resident event or happy hour or two on the calendar, and the car-sharing company has an embedded – captive? – relationship with several hundred residents. We have a handful of scenarios now where we are having to pay the car-sharing services due to difficulties with garage set-ups, etc.
What advice would you give to an apartment owner/operator that is considering implementing one or both of these amenities?
Zadoretzky: If you have different teams for development, sustainability, marketing, etc., get them all in the same room to get the conversation started on what your policies are going to be for both engaging providers of these amenities and how they are going to be used and maintained.
Your approach may likely be quite different for new projects versus existing ones. For charging stations, I believe it is critically important to at least rough in capacity for what I believe will be an electric vehicle boom in the next 10 to 15 years, if not sooner. You don’t have to look much further than the recent announcement of – and the subsequent $10 billion+ (and counting) in orders for – the Tesla Model 3 to see that the future of EVs may already be here.
What do you want attendees to take away from your session?
Zadoretzky: Lessons learned from our mistakes and successes, plus where we see the market for these amenities going and how we are currently planning for them across our diverse portfolio. John Kalb of EV Charging Pros [one of Zadoretsky’s fellow panelists] is an extraordinary resource on the subject, and he alone will likely have you scribbling notes faster than you thought possible on a Monday morning!
Be sure to register for AIM 2016, and book your hotel room (note: the official conference hotel is now full. Overflow space is available at the nearby Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel, located at 21100 Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. Register for the special conference rate of $249 per night by calling 800-822-7873 and mentioning the Apartment Internet Marketing Conference, or by clicking here).