Park to the Future

Park to the Future

Total Property - Issue 5 2016

Commercial developers and landlords who plug themselves into the electric car market now will gain a definite financial advantage over those who are late to the game.

The Government wants to double the number of electric vehicles, or EVs, on New Zealand roads to 64,000 by 2021 to reduce harmful emissions, while the car and tech industries are accelerating their development of more affordable EVs.

A move from petrol to electric also offers opportunities to commercial property owners with an eye on the future and their bottom lines.

In Auckland, buildings that have already incorporated capacity for EV infrastructure in their designs include Bayleys’ new headquarters in Wynyard Quarter and the neighbouring Fonterra building. Precinct Properties has installed charging stations at ANZ Centre in the CBD, and Kiwi Property plans to increase the number of EV charging stations at Sylvia Park which runs its EV charging units from a mixture of solar power and off the grid.

The Government says New Zealand is well placed to benefit from EVs, with about 80 percent of the country’s electricity generated from renewable sources.

Nissan expects EV sales will make up 10 percent of global vehicle sales by 2020 and Apple’s entry into the market may be a game changer, convincing consumers of the viability of the technology.

However, the electric car industry faces a Catch-22 on charging stations. Most property owners won’t install them until there is mass uptake of EVs, and drivers won’t buy EVs without more charging points.

So why invest in charging stations now? Landlords of CBD office and apartment developments will eventually face pressure to upgrade their buildings and facilities for EVs. Charging companies are also in the land grab business. They want to lock in prime locations such as car parks, malls and retail lots before others do. Players include public utilities and private companies such as JuicePoint and Chargenet.

Mark Yates, Managing Director of JuicePoint, says it's relatively easy for developers to incorporate car charging infrastructure into plans. Charging units require 40 amp cables and the ideal (and cheapest) time to install is when a building is under construction or redevelopment.

Yates says hotel chains and malls are now installing EV charging units as a way to attract new customers.

Sigurd Magnusson, technology adviser to the Greater Wellington Regional Council, says the transition to EVs is inevitable. Supermarkets and mall operators offering chargers in their car parks encourage customer loyalty and potentially increase the length of shopping trips.

“Pak‘nSave in Petone, Wellington, has EV parking spots which are rarely empty,” Magnusson says.

Another significant incentive for developers is that EV infrastructure contributes to a building’s Green Star rating.

Alex Cutler, NZ Green Building Council CEO, which awards the Green Star rating, says: “EVs are part of an integrated solution for reducing transport emissions and we are interested in promoting a sustainable built environment. According to recent market research, most investors are prepared to pay more for Green Star buildings which are easier to sell and lease.”

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