20 Dec 22

Germany invests €1.8 billion in rapid EV charging

European governments need to fund EV infrastructure to support EV adoption. 

European Commission (EC) approval last week of a massive €1.8 billion scheme by German authorities to build high power charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EV) highlights the Catch-22 situation of the EV market in Europe. To support and accelerate the roll-out of EVs, fleets and private drivers need confidence that they will be able to recharge the cars and vans without undue inconvenience. However, without significant volumes of electric vehicles on the road, private sector investment is waiting for demand for charging to rise before investing in charging stations.

To break this logjam, German authorities hope to fund the deployment of 8,500 high power charge points, capable of recharging of EVs within 15-30 minutes, at 900 locations where there are either no rapid chargers, or insufficient chargers to meet demand.

Due to European competition rules, Germany needed EC authorisation to give this financial aid to companies to install the chargers.

“The measure has an ‘incentive effect’ as the beneficiaries would not carry out the relevant investments without the public support,” said the EC, adding that the funding programme would support its European Green Deal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Norway and Netherlands show importance of state aid

Germany’s investment follows the model adopted by Norway, Europe’s EV pioneer, where Enova, a Norwegian government body, had already funded 1,900 charging points as early as 2011. The Netherlands Government, too, has invested heavily to support EV chargers, giving companies generous writing down tax allowances – the country now has the highest density of EVs and chargers per 100km.

Fleet EV adoption

For pan-European fleet managers, however, widely differing national interest and investment in charging infrastructure makes continent-wide EV adoption difficult, if not impossible.

Figures from ACEA, the vehicle manufacturers’ association, revealed that half of the public EV chargers in the European Union are located in just two countries - the Netherlands and Germany. While the Netherlands has 64.3 charge points per 100km and Germany has 25.8, major automotive markets like Spain and Poland have only 1.6 and 0.7 chargers per 100km respectively.

“In the Netherlands there is one charger for every 1.5km of road, while Poland – which is eight times bigger – has just one charger along every 150km,” said ACEA, adding that six EU countries do not have a single charge point per 100km of road.

EV readiness

LeasePlan shone a spotlight on these discrepancies in its EV Readiness Index, reporting that: “For the fifth year in a row, charging infrastructure is the bottleneck factor holding back the EV revolution.”

This reality on the ground is forcing fleets to pursue their decarbonisation agendas on a country-by-country, rather than continent-wide basis, until each nation has a comprehensive public charging network, said Maaike Hofwijk – van Hemmen, Fleet Manager Europe & NL for G4S.

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Jonathan Manning