Having published an EV Readiness Index every year since 2018 for Europe, LeasePlan, a leading fleet management and driver mobility company, has just released its U.S.-focused version of the index. It covers all 50 states and the District of Columbia and measures five key factors: favorable state legislation and incentives, electric vehicle penetration, charger to vehicle ratio, charger availability, and climate suitability.
LeasePlan terms the move from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles the largest single shift impacting the entire fleet and mobility industry. Despite public concern over climate change, regulatory pressure, rising fuel costs, and falling EV prices, the index shows we are not yet ready for an electric fleet.
The index notes three key takeaways: Not a single state is ranked in the index as “EV Ready,” the top bracket for EV readiness. In fact, the top three states only just qualified for the second rating bracket, “EV Accepted.” The index points out that climate suitability is an important factor as cold environments are not yet suited to EV operation because low temperatures impact driving range. Finally, even if the federal government’s public charging commitments were to be realized, developing this network of chargers would take years, making sole reliance on public charging infrastructure impossible.
So, who will pick up the slack? The Hyundai Motor Group has one idea (hat tip to Bud Abraham who was kind enough to pass this information along). In its home country, the Korean auto manufacturer created a special space called EV Park at a self-service car wash for its EV customers, enabling charging at the wash. After the car is rinsed, there are four 100kW-class rapid chargers available in the drying area. There are additional perks. If you sign up for EV Park membership, you have free use of the vacuums and air guns and discounts on charging.
EV Park offers more than just self-serve car washing. Hyundai and GENESIS EV owners who wish to further pamper their vehicles can rent self-service detail kits — the products are available free of charge, including glass cleaners, leather protectors, plastic trim coatings, and tire dressing. Customers can choose from four types of towels. They can just plug in the charger and start detailing.
Instead of sitting around waiting for the EV to be charged, customers engage in activities that benefit them and their vehicles while — almost in the background — they get their “tank” topped up. This concept works particularly well in a self-service setting, something that should not be lost on express-exterior wash operators.
More than a year ago, in this space, we pointed out that you did not need to stretch your imagination to realize that the free self-vacuum slots found at every express-exterior car wash were tailormade for charging-outlet installations. And while the vacuum is free, the charging need not be. Customers might spend anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes in the slot vacuuming, touch-up drying, and detailing their car as it charges. While this is not enough time to fully charge a vehicle, it can add to the reserve. Of course, you don’t want customers occupying a vacuum slot for hours on end, and I’m sure that would not be their preference either.
However, as rapid-charging technology advances, it will take less time to replenish a vehicle’s energy supply.