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Electromobility plays a pivotal role in making the European economy CO2-neutral. This requires a much more extensive charging infrastructure for passenger cars, trucks and buses

Germany wants to ramp up the number of charging stations for E-cars from 70,000 today to 1 million by 2030. To achieve this, the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport announced its “Masterplan Ladeinfrastruktur II” yesterday. The plan should accomplish one thing above all, and that is a faster pace of construction.

“It has got to be rolled out faster,” Minister Volker Wissing said Wednesday at the press conference. “Charging should become as easy as filling up with petrol. Moreover, the infrastructure must be nationwide in terms of coverage. “If these conditions are not met, the E-car will never be fully adopted as a fully-fledged alternative to internal combustion engines,” the minister stated, “and a car country like Germany cannot afford that.”

Municipalities

The German government is allocating €6.3 billion for the plan. But money is only one factor. The Master Plan sets out 68 measures to speed things up. For example, municipalities are to become more involved in the plans. Bureaucracy associated with the process of obtaining permits needs to be trimmed down. The government must look for more spaces for charging stations along the highway, in residential areas, at stations, Park&Ride spots and in business parks.

The government has no intention of installing the charging stations itself. That is something companies will have to do. The government is acting as coordinator, facilitator and provider of subsidies.

One of the overriding challenges, according to Wissing, will be the connection to, and improvement of, the power grid. “We have to think backwards in time from the future.” The number of German E-cars is expected to rise from 1.6 million (fully electric and hybrid) to 15 million by 2030. As a consequence, its proportion of the national electricity consumption will rise from 0.5% to 8%. That amounts to a lot of extra demand for electricity, which the grid is not yet prepared for at present.

Other than that, Wissing believes it is important to keep on investing in digitalization. “It should be clear at all times where charging stations are actually available, what kind of charging stations they are and how high the price of electricity is.”

Competition between charging station providers is vitally important, he said, as a way to make sure that motorists, truckers and bus drivers are getting the best service at the best price.

Minister Volker Wissing. Foto BMDV
Minister Volker Wissing. Photo: BMDV

Skepticism

Wissing’s plan was not exactly met with high praise across the industry. Kerstin Andrea of the BDEW industry association for energy is skeptical. She is driven absolutely crazy by the bureaucracy involved in licensing and applying for subsidies. Will this plan with even more consultations and meetings really make that any better? Andrea is concerned that Wissing’s Master Plan will entail more bureaucracy rather than less. Another issue is that most charging stations are on private land. “When will the government itself finally make more land available?”

One of Germany’s leading automotive experts, Ferdinand Dudenhöffer of the Center Automotive Research, told news agency DPA that he is troubled by the price of electricity. He predicts a “renaissance of the internal combustion engine” over the coming years due to high electricity prices and dwindling subsidies for the purchase of electric cars.

The same is true for Hildegard Müller of the VDA industry association who also points to the electricity prices in Germany, which are much higher than the European average. “If these remain so high then this will undoubtedly affect the recently encouraging sales figures of E-cars.” Which is why she is advocating for a lower tax on electricity.

Europe

A meeting was held yesterday not only in Germany about charging infrastructure. It was also the subject of discussion in the European Parliament.

The EU sees electromobility as one of the most important prerequisites for the success of CO2 reduction. MEPs have therefore decided that by 2026 there will have to be charging stations every 60 kilometers along all arterial roads in the EU. However, a proposal to penalize countries if they fail to accomplish this did not make it through the parliament.

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