German Public Charging Infrastructure Grows, Still No Profits Though

JUL 29 2018 BY MARK KANE 12

Sales of plug-in electric cars highly increased in the recent year in Germany but that hasn’t improved the profitability of the public charging infrastructure.

Plug-in electric car registrations in Germany – June 2018

Since June 2017, some 2,800 new public charging stations were installed, which translated to annual growth of a quarter.

However, the 13,500 available public charging points of various kinds (AC or DC) are still not profitable, despite more than 150,000 plug-in cars on the road (less than 100,000 all-electric). The goal of 1 million by the end of 2020 is unrealistic.

To achieve profitability, the ratio of plug-in cars per one public charging station needs to be way higher than 10:1.

Over three-quarters of public points are operated by electricity companies, who need to figure out how to achieve revenues high enough to cover costs and investment in expansion. Those companies put pressure on car manufacturers to introduce more affordable models and sell more plug-ins before they step in with major investments in infrastructure.

The rest of the charging stations often belongs to “car park operators, supermarkets and hotels that subsidise charging facilities as add-on services that they hope will bring more revenue streams from cross-selling or pooling battery storage.”

The other things are residential charging stations at homes or apartments. Here is a space for governments to tweak regulations and make new installations easier.

“BDEW said the government should change residential property laws to enable more investment in private charging points, because 80 percent of future charging processes needed to take place at home rather than in public.

Car owners that do not want to charge at snail’s pace at home must now buy loading boxes, a cost of several thousand euros each, to speed charging beyond the level offered by a conventional domestic socket.”

“Home users also need permission from their local power provider to install the boxes, as too many cars loading simultaneously during peak evening hours would overload neighbourhood power networks.”

Source: Reuters

Categories: Charging


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12 Comments on "German Public Charging Infrastructure Grows, Still No Profits Though"

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Besides ultra fast DC and really slow over night charging I can’t see other stations becoming profitable. If you provide charging in the 200kW and more range people will be willing to spend enough during travel to make a profit because it provides value. Putting really slow outlets into street parking spots is cheap enough so you can make a profit at prices close to electricity rates.

Everything else can’t work.

I disagree. Travel DCFC is too expensive to use on a regular basis. Public L2 stations are too slow to use in virtually every instance outside of workplace charging. The key is to deploy medium speed DCFC, using the same electrical infrastructure as the L2 stations, in public spaces where people tend to park. For Europe, I would presume that something like 22 kW would be the standard. It’s fast enough to grab a decent charge in a short time frame. But the costs to deploy are marginal over L2.

Faster charging at prices comparable to L2 placed where folks tend to park is a model for profitable deployment.


At least proof read the title.

NO public charging infra will profit until they institute grotesquely steep fees to blithering morons that stay connected for hours after getting fully charged within their first 1hr essentially blocking an EVSE for the day.

I believe most of the public chargers installed in Germany are slow-speed chargers (11 kW) at public parking spots. These are *meant* to be used during extended parking sessions. And at least around here, I can tell you that being “blocked” is *not* their problem. I’m not sure I have *ever* seen one with both charging spots in use — certainly not in quite some time. More often than not, both spots are empty.

The sad truth is that EV adoption is still far from catching up with these charger deployments, which mostly were built with government subsidies back in 2011…

Virtually all of the chargers that I know here in Germany charge by the minute, so people are well motivated to move their cars after they finish charging.

Unfortunately they charge a constant rate regardless of how much power you’re drawing, so charging my car at 3.6 kW at a 22 kW charger (that’s what most can deliver here in Stuttgart) is obscenely expensive. Like 12€ for 35 km of driving. That means that I essentially never use any of those public chargers, so there’s a bunch of money that they’re not getting right there. I’m all for paying by the minute, but the price should be adjusted based on the power you’re drawing. There are only about 3 cars on the market that can draw a full 22 kW AC, and those are the only ones you regularly see at those chargers.

“There are only about 3 cars on the market that can draw a full 22 kW AC…”

Exactly. This is why converting those to DCFC is the better move. Then any plug-in with a DCFC interface can get the maximum power delivered.


It appears that viable public charging is going to be the Archilles heel of non Tesla EV adoption.

Tesla’s network isn’t free for Tesla to operate either. Long run they will have to figure out a way to make it profitable.

I don’t get that. There are way more CCS and CHAdeMO chargers out there (at least in Germany) than Superchargers. Superchargers have two main advantages: they’re fast and they’re free for most users. But they’re not as ubiquitous as standard chargers. At least in Europe Teslas have a standard plug and can use any AC charger without an adapter.

Not adopting CCS in Europe would be the Archilles heel for Tesla. The target for CCS chargers is that they should be available in every 20km square. In Germany the minimum output of newly installed public fast chargers will be 175kW from next year when phase two of the Ladesäulenverordnung is triggered.

Judging by the waiting lists for nearly all EVs on the market today, that doesn’t seem likely.