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Germany's charging network in crisis

A law passed by the German government is supposed to provide a better infrastructure with fast-charging stations and thus make the switch to e-cars more attractive. Despite the planned investment of billions, critics are not convinced.

Within the next three years, the German government wants to install 1000 new fast-charging stations to create a seamless charging network for e-cars. This results from the new fast-charging law with the somewhat unwieldy name "Law for the Provision of Nationwide Fast Charging Infrastructure for Pure Battery Electric Vehicles". The government is spending almost two billion euros on this.

The aim of the law is to better connect less lucrative locations to the charging network. For example, conditions are attached to the funding, which require that charging stations at attractive locations such as trunk roads may only be installed in a package together with those at remote locations. The tender also goes to those applicants who demand the least subsidies for the expansion.

Fast-charging stations are especially important for people in conurbations, as they cannot charge their cars overnight in their own garage. Tesla is not only the leader in e-cars in general. There are already 90 fast-charging stations of the American company in Germany. An adapter that makes charging at these stations possible for vehicles of other brands is to be launched on the market soon. Tesla's fast-charging stations, such as the Supercharger generation V3, charge vehicles within 5 minutes for a range of about 120 km. German carmakers are at the back of the queue for this technology. Nevertheless, VW wants to build about 750 new charging stations charged with green electricity at 10 German locations this year, including some fast-charging stations. With the FastCharge project, Porsche and BMW are testing a technology from Siemens that enables a range of 100 kilometres in 3 minutes and a full charging process in 15 minutes. However, the state of development of the technology is not known.

So the expansion of the network in Germany is long overdue. With about 22,000 charging stations, Germany is rather mediocre in an international comparison. The patchy charging network deters many new car buyers from buying an e-car. The German Association of Energy and Water Industries nevertheless criticises the new law. The requirements attached to the law go too far and at the same time leave too much leeway. This would further divide the market of charging pole manufacturers, which is already not very uniform. Indeed, problems often arise during charging due to the technology, the authentication of the vehicle or the payment after charging. The Bundesverband E-Mobilität criticises that the law should not only be useful for passenger cars, but also for other vehicles.

The Greens are also not satisfied with the law. For one thing, it comes at least 5 years too late. For another, 1000 fast-charging stations will not be enough for the mobility turnaround. Moreover, they say, investments must not only be made in charging columns, but the range of e-vehicles must also be significantly improved in order to tackle the problem of charging from a different angle.

Whether the law can help the German charging network out of the crisis remains to be seen. However, a truly seamless supply for electric vehicles will probably not be achieved even after the plans are implemented. And so the majority of Germans will continue to use the reliable old combustion car.