New Study Addresses Barriers to Electric Vehicle Charging in Multi-unit Dwellings

Reaching California’s goal of 1.5 million zero emission vehicles by 2025 will require overcoming current obstacles to charging electric vehicles in apartments, condominiums and other multi-unit dwellings (MUDs).

A new study from the Luskin Center for Innovation highlights the variable and often high cost of equipment installation at MUD sites, based on the electrical, structural, and parking configuration of the building. Another obstacle is that renters or owners exhibit limited investment motivation: renters are unlikely to invest because they may move, and many owners do not yet see electric vehicle charging at home as an amenity by which to attract tenants. Addressing these financial and motivational challenges is critical to charting the path toward a low-carbon future.

“This is why the Luskin Center developed a system for identifying MUDs that could be  targeted for outreach because they exhibit relative high latent demand for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and relatively low-cost installation of charging infrastructure,” said J.R. DeShazo, director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.

Using the Westside Cities sub-region of Los Angeles County as a case study, researchers looked at more than 250,000 MUD units in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Culver City, and unincorporated portions of Los Angeles County. While these cities have relatively high PEV adoption rates compared to other jurisdictions across Southern California, there are still many opportunities to further enhance PEV adoption, especially in the more than 16,000 MUD units in disadvantaged communities within this sub-region.

“People who live in multiunit dwellings are the most challenged when it comes to owning an EV and being able to charge at home,” states Garrett Wong, the City of Santa Monica’s senior sustainability analyst. “This Luskin Center study helps to bring into focus the issues at hand and the ways cities like Santa Monica can target them with programs and policies.”

Overcoming Barriers to Electric Vehicle Charging in Multi-unit Dwellings: A Westside Cities Case Study can assist regional, sub-regional, and municipal planners; state agencies; utility representatives; MUD property owners; homeowner association members; as well as current and potential PEV drivers to:

  • learn about MUD-related barriers to PEV adoption
  • conduct targeted outreach to MUD sites that exhibit relatively high latent PEV demand and low-cost charging infrastructure installation, and
  • adopt policy tools to reduce barriers to PEV adoption.

The Southern California Association of Governments and the California Energy Commission supported this study.

A downloadable copy of the atlas can be found online.