October 7, 2021
Vehicle electrification is going mainstream. The roll-out of charging networks needs to keep pace with the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) market to meet both primary and long-distance charging needs.
What will it take to plug the gaps in primary and long-distance charging? Why is the visibility of this infrastructure such a decisive factor in the development of the EV market?
Photo credit: Chuttersnap
The race is on, and EV supply and the availability of charging networks need to keep up.
The market share of EVs and rechargeable hybrids more than tripled to 12.4% in 2020 from 3.6% in 2019, with a similar trend in 2021. Charging networks are multiplying to meet this strong growth. In France, for instance, and including charging terminals in private homes, apartment blocks, businesses and shopping centres, the charging network stands at 612,000 terminals in 2021.
A determining factor of the EV market’s success is primary charging, with over 90% of charging takes place at home or at work. What are the solutions for increasing primary charging capacity?
1st challenge: primary charging
Primary charging refers to everyday charging, mostly at home. It’s based on the assumption that owners and tenants, whether in an individual house or a collective residence, have access to charging infrastructure at home or close to home.
“Droit à la prise”
Under “droit à la prise”, translated literally as the right to a power socket, all EV users in France have the right to equip their parking area with a charging terminal. They exercise this right by installing the infrastructure at their expense. The new decree of 24 December 2020 extends this right from “open and covered parking areas”, to all parking areas with secure access, whether open or covered, indoors or outdoors.
Private owners can also benefit from a tax credit for the purchase and installation of a charging terminal to the value of 75% of the price of the equipment (and limited to €300).
Solutions for shared residences
Forty-four per cent of French people live in apartments. That is why subsidies for local authorities and multi-unit residences wishing to install EV charging infrastructure have been increased to between €2,000 and €9,000, compared to €1,000 to €2,000 previously, depending on the charging power.
However, roll-out time, procedures, management and maintenance continue to hold up the installation of charging terminals in apartment blocks and complexes. Companies like ZEPLUG and Electro-Mob have come up with the solution of installing charging terminals in apartment blocks at a low cost, with minimal management required by body corporates. In exchange for a subscription fee, any tenant can have a charging point installed at their place of residence.
What about charging at work?
EV primary charging also includes the workplace. Companies can apply for financial aid from the ADVENIR EV charging infrastructure programme for up to 30% of acquisition and installation costs.
2nd challenge: long-distance charging
Another key to the success of the EV market is long-distance charging, enabling drivers to use their EV to go on holiday or do long journeys.
The government’s solution
There are two types of EV charging terminals, each with their own challenges and impact: those found on public roads, and those found on highways. A charging terminal in a city will be used by fifty-or-so residents, while the user traffic on highway charging terminals is far greater.
The French government has therefore invested €100 million into the roll-out of fast-charging stations along highways and national highways. French deputy minister for transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, stated that “all service areas will be equipped with at least four 150 kW terminals to allow up to 80% charge in just 20 minutes”.
This investment is part of “Objectif 100 000 bornes” — the government’s goal established in October 2020 to install 100,000 public charging terminals by the end of 2021.
Full speed ahead: supercharger
A major barrier to user acceptance is the time is takes to charge their EVs for long-distance travel.
The solution? Superchargers, which will increase the freedom of movement significantly. Innovative companies are making progress on the issue of long-distance charging through charging infrastructure that can charge up to 200 km in 20 minutes.
Following the lead of Tesla and its network of 2,500 supercharger stations, companies and startups such as Ionity and Fastned have adopted and are developing this solution.
Ionity, a consortium of car manufacturers that include BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, aims to set up 400 supercharger stations across Europe.
Map of Ionity super-chargers Photo credit: Ionity
Fastned is expanding its super-fast charging network in the Netherlands before moving onto Germany, Belgium, the UK and Switzerland. Its charging infrastructure extends range by up to 300 km in 15 minutes.
3rd challenge: the visibility and accessibility of EV recharging infrastructure
The roll-out of infrastructure is mostly underway, and the final roadblock is users’ ability to know where to find charging points and whether they are available.
It’s not enough to install terminals; they also need to be identified so that users can be notified of their availability. Addressing this issue are tools like the French mobile app Chargemap which uses geopositioning to map out the charging infrastructure in each city. Users can also pay for their charge with the app’s universal Chargemap Pass, which is compatible with most of the European network.
There are other up-and-coming solutions: Izivia by EDF, KiWhiPass, the Freshmile association (European charging network), and Plugsurfing (a French-German company that manages the terminals of various charging stations). These solutions are a hit with users, and the number of subscribers are growing. Chargemap, for instance, has over 150,000 members.
In short, it won’t be long before the availability of charging infrastructure is no longer a hindrance to EV adoption. Innovative companies are developing and enhancing products that will knock down the final barriers to primary and long-distance charging. Super-fast charging terminals, subscriptions and tools for finding available charging points are just some of the solutions that will accelerate EV development.