At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, rush-hour driving was both eerie and delightful. With few cars on the road, it took only a fraction of the usual travel time to arrive at a destination. Now, the world is returning to a state that resembles normal – but data indicate that traffic patterns will be forever changed, and with them, changing demand patterns for EV charging services.
Post-COVID Traffic Patterns: What and Why
From 20% to 25% of the workforce will continue to work remotely – which is a 4x to 5x increase over the numbers of people working from home before the pandemic. At the same time, consumers plan to stick with some new pandemic-related behaviors that will keep them off the roads, like online shopping, virtual healthcare, and home nesting.
The result may be as much as a 9% drop in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) annually.
For traffic patterns, this means a flatter, longer rush hour for morning commutes, with less traffic in the urban center. Package delivery traffic that increased during the pandemic is holding steady, offsetting some of the VMT declines from remote work.
It also means a new suburban rush hour from mid to late afternoon as people working from home combine errand runs with picking kids up from school.
Impact on EV Charging Requirements
EV charging providers can take a cue from these driver behavior changes. With more suburban drivers staying closer to home, demand for charging services will shift away from office building and urban sites.
EV drivers want the freedom to charge anywhere, including retail sites – shopping center, strip mall, grocery, and retail chain parking lots – as well as apartment and condominium complexes. More concentration also calls for smarter EV charging and energy management.
Demand for consumer charging services overall will also continue to grow post-COVID as more EVs come into use. Although 2019 showed little change in demand for EV vehicles, the marketplace rebounded significantly in 2020 and projections call for a 22.1% CAGR for 2021.
Optimize your EV Charging Operations to Meet Growing Demand
Growing your network of charging sites – or adding charging services to enhance retail or housing competitiveness – is one way of meeting growing demand. Just as important is optimizing existing charging operations.
To do that, consider employing an EV charging management platform that can help optimize EV charging operations, meet growing demand with existing resources, and increase customer satisfaction. Here’s what to look for:
- Smart charging capabilities – With smart energy management, charging service providers can reliably manage power requirements for their sites by balancing power among charge points. By optimizing energy management at the site level, operators can balance demand throughout the day and at peak periods to meet customer demand without investing in new infrastructure.
- EV driver behavioral analysis – The right EV charging management platform will provide customer analytics reporting and analysis to help providers keep track of changes in demand and better plan network growth.
- A customer-focused charging experience – Ensure a positive driver experience with easy-to-use mobile apps and driver portals. A seamless experience, from locating charging facilities to paying for services, is critical to attracting and retaining loyal customers.
- Comprehensive billing and payments management – EV drivers want easy access to their charging history, easy payment selection, and customer-friendly billing plans.
With the right EV charging management platform, network operators and charging facility hosts can optimize their operations to keep pace with changing demands in the post-COVID “new normal” driving environment.