When searching for that perfect vacation rental property, many travelers appreciate that Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB) allows them to select from a wide variety of desired amenities to help narrow their search. Now, along with a washer and dryer, Wi-Fi, and free parking, among many other perks and conveniences, electric vehicle (EV) chargers will be among the options guests can select while searching.
If you're looking for a way to set your vacation rental apart from the pack and have yet to install one, could an EV charger be a worthwhile addition to your property?
How popular are EVs?
As travelers nationwide continue to hit the road for long-overdue summer vacations, some will be loading up their families and luggage into an EV. But how many? According to Pew Research Center, electric and hybrid vehicles aren't catching on as quickly stateside as they are in Europe and China, but there is considerable interest. Here are a few findings from their recent report:
- The U.S. had just shy of 1.8 million EVs registered in 2020, more than triple the number seen in 2016.
- While only 7% of American adults currently own an electric or hybrid vehicle, 39% indicate being "very" or "somewhat likely" to consider one for their next vehicle purchase.
- 46% are "not at all likely" to consider an EV for their next purchase.
- California and Hawaii top the nation in number of EVs per capita, with 12 and six registered EVs per 1,000 people, respectively. Other top states for EV registrations include Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
So, while EVs are considerably more popular than they were five years ago, considering that they weren't exactly a smash hit to begin with, there's still a lot of room for growth here.
That said, Airbnb added this feature in response to user demand, and a quick Reddit search reveals that people have indeed been complaining about the absence of this option and trying to find other ways to locate properties with EV chargers for a few years now.
Is it worth it?
Let's weigh the expense against the potential benefit. According to HomeAdvisor, an EV charging station can cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000, depending on type, and installation will run you an average of $750 but can range from $250 to $1,900.
Then you have the actual charging costs to think about. You can either raise your rates to compensate for any such costs or install a pay-per-use charging station. These will generally have instructions for the tenant to install an app, which they'll use to pay and then use the charging station.
But how do you decide whether this would be a worthwhile investment for your particular property? While the Pew Research report does break down EV popularity by state, how helpful that info will be for vacation rental owners will vary. You'll find it much more useful if you get a high percentage of "staycationers" than if you tend to get a hodgepodge of travelers from all over the place. And of course, if you drive an EV yourself and spend a significant amount of time at the property, that's worth taking into consideration as well.
The Millionacres bottom line
So how important is this Airbnb announcement to hosts? If your property already has an EV charger installed, this is exciting news for you. You'll want to make sure your property is searchable for that amenity ASAP. And if you live in one of the top states for EVs and get a lot of in-state travelers, installing one may be worth considering now that all those drivers will be able to search for properties accordingly -- especially if several reviewers have mentioned wishing you had one.
Otherwise, you may just want to hold off for now and see how serious the drivers who indicated that they were "very" or "somewhat likely" to buy an EV for their next purchase turn out to be. Either way, it's a trend worth watching.