Where do I charge? What’s the process? How do I pay? Over 2.2 million Australians call apartments home, and many still have no clear answers on how to charge an electric vehicle (EV) at home.

Our research tells us that the response from Owners Corporations (OCs) on providing charging infrastructure is mixed. Some are trying their best to keep up, while others seem unprepared or even unwilling. With EV ownership on the rise and over 80 per cent of owners preferring to charge at home, the pressure is on to resolve.

So, what can be done to make sure apartments aren’t left behind? Put simply, we need to remove barriers to the installation of chargers to make charging an EV accessible and convenient. We need EV adoption fast if we are to reduce transport emissions and achieve net zero by 2050. We cannot run the risk of turning people off.

Solving this for OCs and apartment dwellers requires:

The National Electric Vehicle Strategy leading the way

National leadership on EVs is in train with the National Electric Vehicle Strategy: consultation paper process underway. To date, state and territory governments have taken the lead, with local governments following suit, resulting in a range of different approaches. National planning, coordination, and effective integration of infrastructure and systems will accelerate uptake. It will give OCs and apartment dwellers the confidence that charging needs will be met outside of the property, as well as in.

The National Strategy could provide OCs with both educational and financial help. A national commercial campaign promoting the benefits of EV uptake, as with solar or smoke alarms, would elevate understanding. Incentives or rebates would give practical help. Norway offers up to 50 per cent off the purchase and installation price for a slow charger in a home or office building. Subsidising EV charging assessments undertaken by an electrical professional or manufacturer would make it more attractive for OCs to understand their charging capabilities. Mandating a standard user agreement or billing method policy managed by the state would ensure fair dealing in energy use billing for both OCs and building users.

We need EV adoption fast if we are to reduce transport emissions and achieve net zero by 2050.

Mark Lusis

Associate Principal

Answering: why buy an electric car?

Promoting the benefits of installing charging stations within apartment complexes could have major payoffs to adoption and people. Increased property value, for one. The demand for at-home charging infrastructure will substantially increase, as EV uptake increases, subsequently increasing the demand for and value of apartments ready to go. Air quality and noise reduction improvements, in place of internal combustion engines, are another. Together, they represent increased capital value, rental yield and sustainability rating. 

A recommended process, with costs, for the installation of EV charging infrastructure

A step-by-step process detailing the specific steps OCs are recommended to follow in installing charging stations is needed. We created a five-step process for the Victorian Government taking into consideration all the barriers that OCs tend to face from pre-investigation, communication with lot owners, formation of by-laws and agreements, installation, ownership types, billing models and power consumption.

In terms of cost, it can vary depending on how many tenants require a charger. Do they want their own? Or are they happy to share? 

The image below provides a breakdown of the differences between level one and level two chargers for EVs. A level one slow charger is an economical solution suited to one tenant who requires a charger in their own private parking bay. A level two fast charger has a higher upfront cost; however, the charging bay can be shared between tenants.

The upcoming adjustment to the National Construction Code 2022 mandates EV charging infrastructure in new apartment buildings. The key to retrofitting existing apartments – so they are not left powerless in the move to EVs – is education and incentives. 

However, as with all things, there needs to be a balance. For example, do apartments in city centres, next to public transport hubs, need to retrofit? This is where coordination through all levels of government is needed, underpinned by an evidence-based and integrated approach to parking, charging and land use. This will ensure the right chargers are in the right places, with equitable access for all.