Rentals adapt as petrol cost and EV ownership surge in UK

UK: As fuel prices — and electric vehicle [EV] ownership — surge in the UK, more short-term rental owners and hosts are adding EV chargers to their properties, according to Ian Hardwick, business development director at online booking platform eviivo.

Fuel prices in the UK continue to hit record highs, pushing the cost of filling an average 55-litre car with petrol or diesel to over £100. As a result, electric vehicle [EV] ownership is surging now more than ever — and eviivo, a booking and management platform used by over 7,000 properties in the UK and Ireland, has seen a 50 per cent increase in properties adding EV chargers.

In fact, according to a recent February report by Airbnb, the demand for EV chargers is higher than ever, so much that ‘EV charging’ is among the most searched for filter by travellers.

Clearly, the rising costs of motoring, coupled with spiralling energy prices and the effects of high inflation, are forcing drivers to consider their options when it comes to car ownership. There has been a strong and rapid growth in ownership of electric vehicles [EVs] in the last few years, with 720,000 electric passenger vehicles now on the road.

Latest figures from the Department of Transport show that sales of plug-in vehicles increased by 77 per cent last year to 327,000, and that growth in demand is set to continue as drivers look to lower costs and seek greener alternatives to petrol and diesel cars. This inevitably means an increase in demand for EV charging points too.

What does this mean for accommodation providers?

Firstly, could now be the time to install an EV charging point? “Absolutely”, says long-time eviivo customer Marcus Edwards at The Bridge House in Bridport, Dorset.

Edwards said: “We recently upgraded an existing charger that we inherited when we took over the property — and we added a second one too. A couple of years ago, there wasn’t much demand but that’s completely changed.

“Now we get lots of people enquiring about our EV charging, calling ahead and reserving it and telling us that it is an important factor in them deciding to stay with us. It definitely generates extra bookings. and the new upgraded charge point will pay for itself within the year,” he added.

EV chargers installed at a property will likely become standard, not only because EV ownership is growing, and EV chargers are among the most searched-for filter on online travel agencies, but travellers’ needs are constantly evolving, and vacation rentals and other accommodation swiftly adapt.

As an example, free high-speed internet access was unheard of a few years ago but is now essential for guests. Essentially, EV charging points is the new high speed wifi. Offering the service now ensures guests will not look elsewhere if a property does not meet their requirements; it is a great way to seize the EV opportunity.

With a typical electric vehicle taking around eight hours for a full charge, timing is perfect for guests to be able to recharge while they sleep. But even if they are not staying overnight, for establishments offering food and drink as well as accommodation, there is still a benefit from drivers looking for a top-up charge and accessing a charger while they have lunch or a coffee.

“It’s really helped generate local demand and we’ve noticed that people who are perhaps ‘charge point anxious’ like the reassurance of using our on-site charge point. People will call to book a table for lunch and reserve one of the chargers at the same time. It really helps to bring people in during quieter mid-week periods,” says Edwards.

Public charging points can be seen on the popular ZapMap website, helping people find a place to plug-in wherever they are.

In addition to attracting new guests and customers, there are other economic benefits to installing an EV charger at a property.

According to Graham Rolands, group director at Devitech, an innovative environmental company based in Kent which has installed chargers at hotels, supermarkets and workplaces, the opportunities presented by having an on-site EV charging point are huge.

Rolands says: “As well as attracting more guests, having an EV charger is another opportunity to upsell. Depending on your plans for your business following EV charging station installation, it is possible to charge a fee for the use of your charging facilities.

“Whether you want to simply recover the cost of the electricity used, or aim to make a profit, EV charging stations for business are a great way to do it.

“Alternatively, you can incentivise guests to book direct by offering them free charging. Selling advertising space on and around your charge points is also an additional innovative way to generate revenue,” he adds.

There are many different types of EV chargers available so it pays to talk to an expert before deciding which is right for your vacation rental, hotel or B&B. Choose between wall-mounted or freestanding, single socket or twin, and fast or rapid charging, depending on your likely audience.

To help property owners get the right advice and plug in to the EV revolution, eviivo and Devitech have teamed up to offer a free onsite survey and £100 off an EV charger installation for eviivo customers for a limited time. By working together, they aim to encourage more independent accommodation providers to install an EV charging point at their premises and make it easier for leisure and business travellers to plug in when they check in.

Readers are invited to find out more about adding EV chargers at eviivo properties at this link.