Construction’s Role in the Rise of Electric Vehicles

04/02/2024

As electric vehicles (EVs) become increasingly accessible to the general public, the infrastructure supporting them is rapidly expanding. From bustling urban centers to suburban landscapes, new buildings are incorporating facilities to accommodate the growing number of EV owners. More and more experienced industrial general contractors are seeing, firsthand, the shift towards sustainable transportation solutions and the integral role construction plays in facilitating this transition.

Today, we look at the recent evolution of EVs, their supportive infrastructure, and how they’re making their way into the construction industry.

How Electric Vehicles Have Grown and Developed Over the Last Five Years

Over the past five years, the electric vehicle (EV) landscape has experienced a dramatic transformation, expanding from niche offerings to a diverse array of mainstream vehicles. Automakers have diversified their portfolios to include electric SUVs, trucks, and luxury models alongside traditional compact cars. Tesla, Ford, and Volkswagen are among the industry leaders introducing flagship EVs boasting competitive performance, extended range, and advanced technology. This expansion reflects a broader trend towards electrification, driven by advancements in battery technology, which have increased energy density and reduced production costs.

Furthermore, the adoption of electric mobility extends beyond personal vehicles to encompass commercial fleets and public transportation. Companies such as Rivian and Amazon are developing electric delivery vans to enhance efficiency and reduce emissions in urban environments. Municipalities worldwide are investing in electric buses to improve air quality and noise pollution in urban centers. This rapid evolution underscores the imperative for the construction industry to adapt and incorporate EV infrastructure into new projects, facilitating the transition to a sustainable transportation future.

The Growing Demand for Adding Electric Vehicle Charging Stations to New Construction

With the surging popularity of electric vehicles, there is a corresponding increase in demand for EV charging infrastructure. New construction projects, whether residential, commercial, or industrial, are recognizing the importance of integrating EV charging stations into their designs. Developers understand that providing convenient access to charging facilities not only attracts environmentally conscious tenants and customers, but also future proofs their properties against evolving transportation trends.

Additionally, government mandates and environmental regulations are driving the adoption of electric vehicle infrastructure in new construction projects. Many municipalities and local jurisdictions have established requirements or incentives for developers to incorporate EV charging stations into their developments. These mandates align with broader efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, making EV infrastructure a focal point in sustainable urban planning initiatives.

How Electric Vehicles Are Being Used in Construction

Within the construction industry, electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly deployed for a variety of applications, contributing to greener and more efficient operations. One prominent utilization of EVs in construction is in the realm of machinery and equipment. Contractors are embracing electric alternatives to traditional diesel-powered machinery, such as excavators, loaders, and cranes. These electric machines offer several advantages, including quieter operation, reduced emissions, and lower operating costs. Manufacturers like Volvo Construction Equipment and Caterpillar are at the forefront of this shift, developing electric prototypes and production models tailored to meet the demands of construction sites.

Furthermore, electric vehicles are making inroads as fleet vehicles in construction operations. Companies are replacing conventional diesel trucks and vans with electric counterparts, aiming to reduce their environmental footprint and operating expenses. Electric fleet vehicles offer benefits such as lower fuel costs, decreased maintenance requirements, and compliance with stringent emissions standards. By transitioning to electric fleet vehicles, construction companies demonstrate their commitment to sustainability while capitalizing on the operational advantages of electric propulsion. As charging infrastructure continues to expand, the adoption of electric vehicles in construction fleets is poised to accelerate, paving the way for a greener and more sustainable future in the industry.

Governmental Incentives to Move Towards Using More Electric Vehicles to Lower Emissions

Governments worldwide are deploying a range of incentives and policies to expedite the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) as part of broader strategies to combat climate change and reduce emissions. For instance,  the federal government offers a tax credit of up to $7,500 for qualifying EV purchases. This incentive significantly lowers the upfront costs for consumers, encouraging more individuals to choose electric over traditional combustion engine vehicles. At the state and local levels, additional incentives further incentivize EV adoption. States like California and New York provide generous rebates and incentives, such as additional cash rebates and exemptions from sales tax, registration fees, and tolls.

Additionally, regulatory measures are being implemented around the world to accelerate EV adoption and curb emissions. Countries like Norway have set ambitious targets to phase out the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by specific deadlines, incentivizing automakers to prioritize electric vehicle production. Similarly, cities like London have introduced low-emission zones and congestion pricing schemes, levying fees on high-emission vehicles to encourage the transition to electric alternatives.

Challenges of Incorporating Facilities for Electric Vehicles and Using Them in Construction

Despite the numerous benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) and the increasing demand for EV infrastructure in construction projects, several challenges exist in integrating these facilities and utilizing electric vehicles within the construction industry. One significant challenge is the upfront cost associated with installing EV charging infrastructure. While long-term savings in operational costs are evident, the initial investment required for purchasing and installing charging stations can be prohibitive for developers and property owners, particularly in retrofitting existing buildings with EV facilities.

Another challenge lies in the technical complexities of designing and implementing EV charging infrastructure. Factors such as determining optimal charging station locations, assessing electrical capacity and load management, and ensuring compliance with building codes and regulations require specialized expertise. Moreover, the evolving nature of EV technology and charging standards adds complexity to the design process, necessitating ongoing adaptation and integration of emerging technologies into construction projects. Owners looking to add these systems should look for a qualified general contractor with experience in either EV facilities or similar fields such as high-tech and manufacturing.

Our team here at Perlo has extensive experience not only in the automotive industry with companies like Tesla, but also high-tech and industrial spaces with electric vehicle infrastructure. Questions about incorporating EV facilities in your next project? Contact our teams here.

Final Thoughts

As the popularity of electric vehicles continues to soar, construction general contractors play a crucial role in facilitating their integration into new builds. By incorporating EV charging infrastructure into construction projects, developers not only meet the needs of a growing market but also contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable future. Despite challenges, governmental incentives, technological advancements, and shifting consumer preferences create opportunities for innovation and growth. As we embrace the electric revolution, construction professionals are at the forefront of shaping a greener, more electrified world.