AIRPORT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM
The increasing number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads today, particularly since 2008, has led to airport sponsors adopting a new practice: installing EV charging stations for public use. EV charging technology and the costs associated with providing EV charging stations are still evolving and there are still many unknown factors, conflicting information, and speculation about this new practice. This ACRP project was conducted to synthesize the information found in published literature and gathered from airport sponsors with experience in EV charging. This report summarizes the state of the EV industry and the motivations for airport sponsors to provide EV charging stations; identifies current EV charging technologies; and describes effective practices for installing EV charging stations at airports in terms of finances, planning, implementation, and operation of the charging stations. This report is intended to help airport management staff, specifically those environmental, parking, and/or facilities managers who may be interested in installing EV charging stations.
Purchases of EVs are increasing throughout the United States, with the West Coast states accounting for a disproportionately high number of EVs on the road. Research undertaken for this report has shown that at least 37 airports in the United States are providing EV charging stations, most commonly in short-term or long-term parking facilities, and usually with no additional charging fee to customers. None of the airport sponsors interviewed reported the installation process as being particularly onerous, especially if up-front costs were alleviated by grants and if the existing electrical infrastructure was adequate to support the EV charger installation.
Many airport sponsors reported providing EV charging stations initially as an environmental initiative, with the expectation that the charging stations would convince parking customers to travel to the airport in clean EVs, and thus reduce emissions in the area. More recently, passengers as well as employees are beginning to request EV charging stations, indicating that they already have EVs and need a place to charge them. As a result, at many airports, providing this equipment has become not only an environmental initiative but also a customer service issue. With parking revenue often representing a significant portion of an airport’s operating budget, increasing revenue is always important, and providing good customer service is a significant part of that equation.
Information for this report was gathered through a literature search and interviews with the environmental, parking, and other facilities management staff of 12 airport sponsors in North America (representing 18 airports) that have direct experience with the installation and management of EV charging stations. The 12 interviewees were chosen in an attempt to be geographically diverse and/or to collect stories from airport sponsors that were known to have had a particular experience. It should be noted that there are many policies, management concepts, and results reported at other airports in North America that are not included in this report.
The data collection response rate for the interviews was 100%—all 12 airport sponsors approached participated in one-hour interviews about their experiences and lessons learned. The investigation for this report, conducted in the summer of 2013, represents a snapshot of the current state of the industry. Both the literature search and interviews indicated that providing EV charging stations for airport passengers raises many challenges and considerations, some of which are of concern to all airports, some of which are unique to airports in areas that are more saturated with EVs, and some of which are unique to airports in areas that have seen slower EV integration.
All airport sponsors who either have installed EV charging stations or are planning to install them are concerned about such issues as future trends and technology, revenue potential or cost reimbursement possibilities, and the advantages and disadvantages of such installations. Airports reported an increase in EV charging station use over time, consistent with increasing EV sales; from January 2013 to July 2013, the registration of EVs increased by more than 50% in California, Washington, New York, and Florida. Only one of the 12 airport sponsors surveyed collects a fee for the use of EV charging stations; the other 11 airport sponsors do not impose an additional fee for using an EV charging station, so EV drivers pay the same parking rate as other users of the facilities. Revenue generation from access fees has not been reported as a primary consideration, although some airport sponsors have recognized that additional parking revenues may be generated from customers who choose airport parking facilities and/or upgrade to premium lots in order to use EV charging stations.
About the Airport Cooperative Research Program
“The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) is an industry-driven, applied research program that develops near-term, practical solutions to problems faced by airport operators. ACRP is managed by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies and sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The research is conducted by contractors who are selected on the basis of competitive proposals.”