Who is winning the Public EV Charging Infrastructure race?

No one wants to be left behind in the EV Charging Network development race ! Big Oil with their purchasing power and existing network of gas stations, DSOs with their control over the electricity grid, automobile giants with their know-how and OEMs and tech-startups with their innovation all working together and racing each other to gain the top spots. The next 5 years will decide who the winners will be.

Defying the odds, the electric passenger car market in Europe have registered an uptick in sales during COVID-19 times, with France and Italy showing an overall high registration of around 12%. Germany alone had a 20.5% increase in electric vehicle (EV) purchases in May 2020, as compared to last year.

It could be because many European countries are offering a temporary subsidy for battery electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), in a step to boost their economy.

It could also be the increase in confidence in the public charging infrastructure available thanks to the collaborations between utilities and oil and tech start-up companies. The EU has always taken public charging infrastructure as a crucial part of their transport infrastructure and targets 1.3 million public charge points EU-wide by 2025 and 3 million by 2030. That’s just 3% of the EU’s annual investment in road transport infrastructure. However, while some countries are investing significantly in developing EV charging networks, others have not made big steps. 76% of public EV Charging infrastructure in Europe is concentrated in just 4 countries- Netherlands, Germany, UK and France.

Still the need for Better Public EV Charging

The IEA reports that there is an obvious need for fast chargers in public demand areas. But the small- and average-size investors and Charge Point Operators (CPOs) seem diffident to enter the market, even though the number of EVs sold has increased.

Many of the leading CPOs are an extension of utility and gas companies. They have a clear edge over independent players for two major reasons.

Big Oil’s advantage through their Existing Networks: Around 79% of the public charging infrastructure is operated by utilities and oil companies because they already have real estate. More on this in our previous article.

The budget Available: Even 1% of the budget allocated for ‘new energies’ from these traditional energy companies proves to be a significant amount. Case in point, Shell. 1% of its global profit is allocated for building EV infrastructure, roughly $2-3bn every year.

1% of Shell’s global profit is allocated for building EV infrastructure, roughly $2-3bn every year.

Europe has less ‘Range Anxiety’ 

Companies are vying to add more charging stations to its portfolio, making it a win-win for the EV customer. The Dutch-British oil leader and world’s second-largest energy company (after its $53Billion takeover of BG Group), Shell, has made giant strides in the e-mobility infrastructure market. With its acquisition of EV charging specialist NewMotion (2017) and GreenLots business unit(2019), it added around 30,000 charging points across Europe.

ChargePoint claims that their network is so large that someone connects to their chargers every 15 seconds. Along with other major EV infrastructure operators such as Allego and EVBox Group (Engie) they have around 150,000 charging points across the EU.

IONITY EU, a joint venture of mostly German car manufacturers, understands the importance of fast charging public stations. They are working with ABB to roll out 324, 350 kW high-power EV chargers to 24 countries as part of the phased growth of IONITY network. As an early entrant, they have also collaborated with partners such as Extra MSA or Shell, to grow a sturdy base in Europe with 40 locations providing 400 high-power charging sites placed strategically in highways.

With its acquisition of the Chargemaster in 2018, BP is arguably the largest provider of charging points in the UK. With their existing fuel retail outlets and their strategic partnership with Chargemaster, they have a record of 7,000 charging units, including 400 fast chargers on BP sites across the UK. And their agreement with DiDi will mark their presence in China’s EV Charging infrastructure.

Other top players include the French CPO Izivia (EDF) working on rolling out 75,000 charging stations by 2022. Enel X, a subsidiary of the Italian utility Enel, has recently announced a partnership with BCC Energia to make way to smaller towns and inland areas and aims to add 28,000 EV charging stations by 2022.

Range-anxiety is ceasing to be a problem in Europe

The US – A Ripe Market for CPOs

A recent study estimates that the total number of dedicated charging points in the US will increase to 2.4 million in 2025. Wood Mackenzie, energy research and consultancy, predicts charging infrastructure investment in the US will exceed $18 billion by 2030.

Electric car users currently though are feeling the pinch. Tesla’s dedicated 1,533 Supercharger network is probably the biggest exclusive network of EV chargers in the US yet it can’t claim to cater to all the 82,000 cars it has manufactured as of Q2 2020.

In effect, the number of Teslas is overtaking the volume its Supercharger network can cater to.

US-headquartered ChargePoint sees the opportunity in increasing EVs in the US and has been partnering with VW’s Electrify America to add 100,000 chargers. ABB too has joined hands with Electrify America and EVgo to install 329,528 units across the US as of 2019.

The Road Ahead for EV Charging Infrastructure

Collaboration between car manufacturers, power distributors, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are key to deliver a sustainable, emission-free future. Investment should continue to drive change in public charging infrastructure–not just from vehicle OEMs, but also to give confidence for private players to enter the charging infrastructure network to satisfy growing demand.

Adding Smart chargers will also help gain more confidence with the end-users. It is imperative that the EV charging infrastructure has more ultra-fast chargers (typically 150 kW) set up while maintaining low costs in peak demand times.

If you are working in e-Mobility charging infrastructure and ‘new energies’, then you shouldn’t miss our virtual conference – “2nd E-Mobility Charging Infrastructure” – on 23 and 24 November. Join today to interact with experts including Vincent Schachter, Head of Global Energy Services E-Mobility at Enel X to benchmark best-practices with the industry leaders and gain insights what the future holds for EV infrastructure.