Race to Install Charging Infrastructure Along European Highways is in Full Swing

Utility companies, charging technology companies, and oil operators are jockeying for position to spur development of electric vehicle charging station networks across Europe.

With limited space at highway rest stops and lack of existing infrastructure across Europe, companies such as Britain-based InstaVolt, ChargePoint, and Engie are racing to develop or build partnerships with providers to bring faster-charging solutions to the roads. These charging stations would have the power to refill an electric car battery in 30 minutes or less.

According to the International Energy Agency, there are fewer than 100,000 charging points in Europe with close to all not meeting the standard of current-generation chargers capable of producing at least 150 kilowatts, translating to hour-long charging times.

Also, there is a sense of urgency in securing deals with gas station operators, whose land is made available to charging companies to place chargers. One example is charging-unit builder InstaVolt which is currently renting land from gas station operators who benefit from increased foot traffic and revenue to its stores. A second deal with U.S.-based ChargePoint is in place to build a network of 200 charging stations in some of Britain’s most populated roads.

A third deal is French utility provider Engie’s acquisition of Netherlands-based EV-Box, a leading charging station manufacturer in Europe. Engies’ innovation head, Thierry Lepercq, is highly optimistic over its projected revenue forecast.

“We expect hundreds of millions of annual revenue from EV-Box in a few years,” said Lepercq.

Similar plans are being made in the United States to electrify the highway grid through automakers and governmental regulations. One example is Volkswagen’s Electrify America Plan, a $2 billion project calling for nonproprietary charging stations to be installed across 11 metro areas and 39 states by 2019. A second is the former Obama administrations late-2016 efforts to offer $4.5 billion worth of guaranteed loans in exchange for building and installing chargers across 25,000 miles of terrain, making one available every 50 miles.

According to a June 15 University of Michigan report using Department of Energy data, there were 16,000 public charging stations in the U.S. carrying 43,000 charging units. Of those, 13 percent meet current generation standards with 20 to 30 minute reload times.


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