Even with Incentive Money Traditional Chargers Can't Compete

Joseph Nagle
March 7, 2023

The EV industry has come a long way in the past 10 years. Back in 2013, the Model S was barely ramping up production and the Supercharger network was sitting at a paltry eight stations total. Fast forward to today and Tesla produces four separate models and sells over a million vehicles a year, with over 40,000 supercharger stations across the world. That doesn’t even take into account the multitudes of competitors now on the market.

However, as fast as things are accelerating in the EV market, EV incentive programs seem to be trapped in the past, specifically when looking at filling the major gaps in EV charging at apartment complexes. 

Instead of building to meet needless incentive requirements, Orange designed our system from the ground up to meet the needs of apartment communities, with or without incentives. What we found is not only are we able to meet the complex needs of these communities but we are still the most affordable and profitable option. 

How is this possible?

All Things Being Equal

Orange wanted our system to do only a few simple things. First, we wanted to bring affordable access to charging for EV drivers at apartments. Next, we wanted that access to be available equally to everyone in the community at any time day or night. Lastly, we wanted to give the property owner a way to recoup the costs of installation and generate a positive long-term ROI. 

So that's what we did. 

With the Orange Outlet, we dramatically lowered the installation costs by upwards of 70% by simply using 20-amp outlets. This allowed us to cut down on the single biggest cost during installation, copper. 20-amp stations don’t require large copper wires and as such, use quite a lot less copper which, in turn, lowers installation costs. This instantly makes installations more affordable and gives the property owner a realistic ability to recoup their investment in only a few years.

The above is a real-world example of a property that we quoted, as you can see our total installation costs are as much as five times less expensive than competitors. When installing stations en masse like this it's easy to see why incentive programs were created. When you go with a solution that wasn't designed for multifamily housing costs become prohibitive rather quickly. 

By installing 30 stations the property was looking to cover the community charging needs for the foreseeable future and by going with Orange they obtained a decent return on investment to the property, allowing it to turn a profit over 10 years with a breakeven point in around six years. Something the two competitors in this situation had no hope of doing. 

As you can see, by designing the system around the needs of the apartment community we brought more than enough chargers to satisfy the community needs, allowing more drivers to charge up nightly, and bringing a true return on investment. 

In short, we don’t need incentives.

However, what happens when we introduce some of the more generous incentive program funds to the mix?

Unnecessary Incentives 

While most incentive programs were likely created with the best of intentions, but being built around public charging infrastructure that when brought into apartment complexes fails to meet the needs of that community. This is exactly the reason why, in California, only 9% of all EV registrations were in multi-family communities (based on 2020 data). It's simply not affordable and provides no real way to recoup the costs. 

Many incentive programs ask that the charging stations are capable of charging at 6.6kW and include a J1772 plug. While these appear like good stipulations to add, in reality, they actually drive up the costs significantly on the installation and do little to add value to the property

Let's look at the same property from before except this time we will give our competitors some incentive money.

The incentive funds are able to cover up to $4500/port and the funds are capped at $90,000/project (as a note this is on the high-end for incentive programs) lowering the costs of bringing EV charging to a multifamily property. Adding in these incentives does lower the upfront capital it would cost to install Level 2 chargers however it still doesn’t come anywhere close to making these charging stations cost comparative to Orange. 

In fact, in the exact same scenario as before it lowered install costs and only now costs twice as much as Orange. While you could have residents sharing stations, we already know that this is a recipe for disaster as drivers rarely want to come down and swap in the middle of the night. Even if they don't mind that, you would be waiting nearly 20 years before you would start to break even and that's if the charging stations never need replacement, which is highly unlikely. 

Once again the reason Orange is so much more affordable is that our system was designed to fit perfectly into apartment communities. We wanted to provide everyone with an affordable and scalable charging solution no matter where they live. Our business model also allows us to bring a true return on investment allowing this property completely recoup the costs of the installation. 

What Happens When Incentives Include Lower-Power Stations

Something we are starting to see more and more of is incentive programs that equally apply to all charging station types regardless of output levels and plug types. Even when the incentives are relatively small we can see just how much better these incentives are for property owners when they include the Orange 620 Outlet. 

Let's look at the same building once again, this time with a modest $1500 per charging port incentive. By adding these small incentives to Orange’s offering we see that charging has almost instantly gone from an expensive amenity to a revenue-generating proposition in less than a year, and again this is with minimal incentives applied. While Orange only takes a year to break even, our competitors take between 20 and 30 years, trapping buildings into a never-ending upgrade cycle where they’ll not only never see any revenue back, but are likely required to manage and maintain these unprofitable and expensive stations indefinitely. 

Something that many don’t point out when talking about incentive programs is that they often include clauses that require the property to maintain working stations as a caveat to getting the incentive money. With Orange, this is not much of an issue, as our Outlets are rated for 10,000 cycles, over 10 years of constant use, and have no real failure points. Even if the outlet falls victim to an act of vandalism, Orange Outlets themselves are extremely affordable (just $400) so replacing them is not a big issue. However, standard Level 2 stations do have a major point of failure, the charging cable, and replacing one can at times take a few months and a minimum of $500. Furthermore, if the station is broken it can cost anywhere from $1500 to upwards of $8000 depending on the charging provider. 

This is a clear breakdown of why so few chargers have been installed in apartment communities. Until Orange, there was absolutely no way to get a return on the property owners' investment without massive incentive programs. Even then, the payback period was pushing 20 years under the best possible circumstances and we know that many of these stations face high levels of wear and tear which forces the property owner to spend more money to simply maintain the stations, trapping them in an endless cycle of putting good-money-after-bad.

Orange wants the charging experience to be completely seamless for everyone, the EV driver, the apartment community, and the property owner. By installing Orange Outlets we bring a needed amenity to a far larger portion of the apartment community. At the same time, because our installation costs are so low we help the property owner achieve a true ROI quickly. All of this is done without incentives. 

If you want to see for yourself how this all works, check out our ROI calculator and see just how Orange can help bring affordable EV charging to your property. 

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