December 2, 2021

Charging stations: the German car is getting impatient

Posted on Oct 22, 2021 8:25 AM

La Dolce Vita lacks energy. Party on vacation in Italy aboard a homemade electric car, the boss of Volkswagen had sharply criticized on social networks – photos in support – the quality of the network of electric terminals. “No toilets, no coffee, an HS terminal, sad affair. It’s anything but a premium charging experience, Ionity! Herbert Diess shouted, struggling to load his ID.3.

The situation is hardly better on the other side of the Rhine. “As of January 2021, 590,000 electric cars traveling on German roads were to share 39,600 publicly accessible charging points, which means that there were already 15 cars per charging point,” notes the German automobile federation, VDA.

Despite shortages of electronic components, 56,550 electric cars were still registered on the German market in September, an increase of 37% compared to last year. At this rate, it would be necessary to build 2,000 terminals per week in Germany, instead of the 300 currently, insists the VDA.

A 4 billion euro plan

Pressed by German manufacturers to accelerate the pace, the government announced at the end of 2020 “a plan of 4 billion euros for recharging infrastructure on highways, in supermarkets, businesses and at private homes”. In total, Germany plans to set up a public network of 1,000 ultra-fast charging stations for electric cars by 2023.

Last August, the Minister of Transport, Andreas Scheuer, stepped up a gear by announcing in addition a catch-up plan of 300 million euros for the construction of 1,000 new sites equipped with several fast recharging terminals. The call for tenders was launched in mid-September.

Despite these political statements, “not a single charging station has been created thanks to the funding program since April to our knowledge”, regrets Joachim Damasky, the director general of the VDA. Bureaucracy and approval delays have created too many traffic jams, he laments.

VW is increasing partnerships

The situation eventually bored manufacturers, starting with Volkswagen. “We have decided to take charge of the development of the charging infrastructure by working with strong partners to increase the number of fast charging stations in Europe by five by 2025”, recently announced Thomas Schmall, member of the Volkswagen AG Board of Directors in charge of Technology, in an interview with “Manager Magazine”.

In total, 18,000 fast chargers should be installed in Europe within four years in partnership with Enel, Iberdrola, BP but also Ionity, specified the group last spring. Ionity, the joint venture between Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, Ford and Hyundai, is said to have installed 360 fast-charging points in Europe out of the 400 planned.

For VW, the density of the network is vital for its sales but also its revenues. In his 2030 strategy presented this summer Herbert Diess attributed a 5% return to sales in the energy sector.

Boosted by these prospects, Thomas Schmall does not exclude that VW may introduce on the stock market within a few years an entity combining the six future battery factories of the group and the charging activities. A spin-off would allow the manufacturer to boost the financing of the electricity network.

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