EURO FIRMS BAT­TLE TO SET UP CHARG­ING STA­TIONS

Need for high-power charg­ing net­works cre­at­ing ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion for lim­ited space at mo­tor­way ser­vice ar­eas

New Straits Times - - Business -

THE bat­tle over how and where Euro­peans charge their elec­tric cars is ex­pand­ing from the con­ti­nent’s cities to its mo­tor­ways.

Power util­i­ties, tech start-ups and oil ma­jors are fight­ing to es­tab­lish them­selves as the dom­i­nant play­ers in the fast-grow­ing busi­ness of charg­ing sta­tions but ad­vances in elec­tric ve­hi­cles means where they build them is chang­ing.

Re­fu­elling con­ven­tional petrol and diesel cars on mo­tor­ways has long been the do­main of the oil firms, which typ­i­cally have their own net­works of fill­ing sta­tions.

Sev­eral are now talk­ing on set­ting up high-power charg­ing net­works, cre­at­ing ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion for lim­ited space at mo­tor­way ser­vice ar­eas.

“It is a bit of a land­grab now to win this sec­tor,” said Tim Payne, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Bri­tish charg­ing start-up In­staVolt, which has raised £12 mil­lion (RM67.2 mil­lion) to in­stall 3,000 charge points across Bri­tain by 2020.

While the range of elec­tric ve­hi­cles was less than 100km, Europe’s util­i­ties were happy to help cities and com­pa­nies in­stall slow and in­ex­pen­sive charg­ing points at homes, of­fices and shops, of­ten sup­ported by state sub­si­dies.

But Tesla, Porsche and BMW are now mak­ing bat­tery-pow­ered cars with enough range to drive across coun­tries.

Charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture re­mains nowhere near it needs to be.

“Where is the net­work of charg­ing points that will be re­quired? In­deed where is the power and the grid?” asked Ralf Speth, boss of Bri­tain’s Jaguar Land Rover.

Ex­perts, in­clud­ing ChargePoint and Engie, are, how­ever, mak­ing plans to build pan-Euro­pean net­works of high-volt­age fast-charg­ing sta­tions which can re­fill a bat­tery in less than half an hour in­stead of overnight.

In Bri­tain, In­staVolt is rent­ing land from fill­ing sta­tion op­er­a­tors, bring­ing them ad­di­tional rev­enue from the lease as well as the in­creased traf­fic to their shops at the sites. It earns a mar­gin by sell­ing power through the charg­ers. Reuters

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