Project Lessons: EV Mobility Hubs
The U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Office funded several electric vehicle (EV) mobility hub projects. Lessons learned from these funded projects can highlight opportunities for greater project efficiency and success. Others embarking on similar projects can take into account the key considerations summarized below, which discuss best practices for engaging stakeholders, strategies for improving the equitable distribution of project benefits, site selection factors, and permitting/policy elements that could impact the project.
EV mobility hubs allow for charging multiple vehicles and other electrified transport modes such as electric buses or e-bikes. They were funded to develop strong local and regional partnerships to support increased use of EVs. Strong partnerships can efficiently cut through regulatory and market barriers to technology introduction. Partners' real-world operating data can help demonstrate how to scale EV charging equipment and vehicles.
Past Funded Projects
- Clean Fuels Ohio: Decentralized Mobility Ecosystem: Market Solutions for 21st Century Electrified Mobility
- PacifiCorp: Western Smart Regional Electric Vehicles Adoption and Infrastructure at Scale
- Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy: The Mid-Atlantic Electrification Partnership: An Electrification Ecosystem of Intermodal Leadership and Intercity Travel
Key considerations for EV mobility hubs are summarized below.
- EV charging equipment: At the start of the project, determine who will own, insure, and be responsible for operations and maintenance and for what length of time. Potential responsible parties include the utility, municipality, site host, or charging station network.
- EVs: At the start of the project, determine who will own/lease, insure, and be responsible for cleaning, operations, and maintenance. Potential responsible parties include car share companies, cities (lease), taxi companies, nonprofits, and multifamily housing owners.
- Utilities: Engaging utilities at the start of the project is essential as they can provide valuable input on the project parameters and sites capable of supporting an EV mobility hub.
Local Government Stakeholders
- It will likely be necessary to include multiple municipal departments/offices to enable decision-making.
- Departments and offices to consider include city council, building, forestry/parks, parking, permitting, planning, public transit, sewer, traffic, and water.
- One project worked with the locality to site mobility hubs at libraries, which would allow users to access amenities like bathrooms.
- Community engagement should begin during the project development phase, prior to site selection, and should continue throughout project implementation and after deployment.
- Community members have deep knowledge of their area's history and needs. Build relationships with community-based organizations prior to the grant application process. When a grant application is issued, ask if they would like to be a partner to collaboratively develop the project.
- Compensating community organizations and community members for their time and input is highly recommended. It is also a best practice to provide childcare and ensure there are efficient and affordable transportations options for attendees.
- Consider how the time, location, language, and method of communication with community organizations affects people's ability to effectively engage.
- Provide community members with opportunities to recommend and reject sites.
- Hire local contractors to inform and/or lead community engagement, as they will have knowledge and connections to community organizations.
- When selecting sites, work with nearby building owners and homeowners.
- Equity considerations need to be included at the start of the project to help ensure community needs are met. To better understand equity considerations, consult Table 1: An Approach to Include Equity and Energy Justice Consideration in Decision Making in "Energy Justice: Key Concepts and Metrics Relevant to EERE Transportation Projects."
- Collaborate with community partners (including community members) to identify what equity means for this project, what equity considerations will be incorporated, and criteria for equitable site selection.
- Select sites based on input from community members. To inform site selection with equity considerations in mind, the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation provides a list of equity and climate impact tools including Justice40 mapping, environmental justice screening, and energy equity analysis.
- Projects found that federal equity data may not be sufficient—work with local organizations and community members to account for local demographics and the uneven distribution of social, economic, and institutional benefits and burdens.
- Incorporate knowledge gained through community members' lived experiences. Ask local residents how they use the spaces in their communities instead of relying on maps or other tools. As an example, a map may identify an open space as a park but community members might understand that space as a field without amenities and therefore does not use this as public space.
- One project engaged with historically black colleges and universities in their geographical area for input on EV mobility hubs.
EV Mobility Hub Site Selection
- Determine anticipated uses of the EV mobility hub: Public charging, ride-hailing and delivery drivers, public transit agencies, fleets, and e-bikes.
- Hubs serving multiple users, especially buses, may have higher power requirements than average EV charging equipment.
- Projects should engage the utility at the outset to identify areas where hubs are possible.
- Sites needing significant power upgrades must consider that it could take up to 2 years to upgrade a substation.
- Funded projects for mobility hubs have all incorporated Level 2 and DC fast charging but not all sites had both.
- Consider using state traffic data to identify where drivers stop and consider highway locations first and destinations second.
- Co-locating EV mobility hubs at light rail train stations presents an excellent opportunity to use excess available power capacity when trains are not at the station.
- Several projects reported high charging rates when using a national network provider. Consider other ownership options that can reduce costs for users of mobility hubs.
- One project co-located DC fast charging for vehicles, electric buses, and e-bike charging at both an existing bus station and a light rail station and this significantly reduced costs. EV chargers are owned by a utility.
- One project located hubs based on taxi driver routes that could serve both the general public and EV taxi driver and car share needs. This project sited a hub at an industrial taxi fleet site, an arts and entertainment area of a city, and at libraries. EV chargers are owned and operated by a national network provider.
- One project took a neutral approach and let communities select locations for mobility hubs. DC fast chargers were located at an airport with ride-hailing drivers as the primary users. Other locations were parking areas, with future deployments at regional mobility hubs, and energy corridors. Both utilities and national network providers own the EV chargers.
- One project suggested that indemnification responsibility led to issues with site selection and deployment. This project expects to share lessons learned on this issue soon.
- Consider a pilot deployment first to identify barriers and permitting processes unique to the project location. The pilot could allow for more efficient deployment of additional sites.
- Identify who has jurisdiction over permitting for EV chargers on both public and private property.
- All projects reported that permitting took much longer than anticipated.
- Determine how compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act impacts permitting mobility hubs and who would be responsible for costs associated with accessibility requirements.