The coronavirus outbreak and social distancing policies significantly affect public charging activity. New investments are hibernated.
Fastned fast-charging network, by the way of releasing financial results for the full year 2019, shared also some insights about the coronavirus outbreak's impact on its business (focused mostly in the Netherlands and partially in Germany).
As it turns out, the social distancing and remote work translated into significantly lower traffic, which of course translated into lower demand for charging.
Fastned reports that since mid-March, daily sales dropped by 70% compared to February.
"The Corona virus outbreak significantly impacts the global economy and Fastned is no exception. As a result of social distancing policies road traffic is currently much reduced. This has resulted in around 70% lower daily sales since mid March, compared to February daily sales. "
Another thing is that all the construction work on new stations or upgrades to existing ones are expected to be delayed because of two reasons - first, it's not essential/or even possible, and secondly, because it's high time to preserve cash reserves.
Since the company closed the year 2019 with some €19 million in cash and cash equivalents, it should be enough to continue operation.
"Moreover, Fastned is experiencing delays in the construction of new stations and the upgrading of existing ones. A third effect is that due to temporary car factory shut-downs, the delivery of electric vehicles to the market is likely to be slowed down. It is currently uncertain how long this situation will last. "
"Fastned had €19 million in cash and cash equivalents per year end 2019. Fastned cancelled part of its planned capital expenditures to be able to maintain an (increased) minimum cash buffer well into 2021, based on current projections. Note that any projections carry a high degree of uncertainty currently, as it is unclear how long the pandemic will last and what the full impact will be."
Such hibernation mode is now probably a common approach among charging networks - existing points need to be operational, but investments are put on hold.
In a "message from the CEO", Michiel Langezaal wrote:
"What the coronavirus will (not) change
Our achievements of 2019 are overshadowed by the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus. An event of which the outcome and impact is largely unknown and that asks the utmost from our governments, healthcare systems and society. Fastned will not be exempt from the consequences of the Corona crisis. People drive less and as a result our charging stations are visited less frequently. We expect that this will continue for at least several months this year. We also expect delays in the construction of stations and the upgrading of existing ones. We postponed the construction of several new stations to increase our cash buffer. As events progress we can either decide to revert funds back again to (some) of the planned capital expenditures or continue to extend our runway.
What do we know for sure about the longer term? It is obvious that the need to stop burning fossil fuels and electrification of transport remains as urgent as ever to combat climate change. Governments react to the crisis with unprecedented economic measures. These stimulus packages could very well support the energy transition. New electric cars will hit the road: assembly lines for electric vehicles have been built and battery supplies have been secured. Some electric vehicles will be delayed, but eventually they will arrive. The transition to electric mobility will not suddenly come to a halt. Our market will continue to grow."