Electric Cars Germany Setting E-Car Charging Standards

A plan to set uniform specifications for e-car charging stations in Europe's largest economy may leave U.S. electric car maker Tesla holding the wrong set of plugs.
Plug in and juice up.

Electric cars in Germany will juice up at standardized charging stations in the future.

Handelsblatt has received a copy of the draft “Charging Station Ordinance,” with which the German government wants to regulate power posts across the nation.

Based on standards agreed upon by European car manufacturers, the ordinance is meant to accelerate the construction of charging stations and to create legal certainty, according to the German economy ministry.

But it will leave U.S. electric sportscarmaker Tesla unplugged: The “superchargers” that have been built along the German autobahn by the California manufacturer have so far not been compatible with the European system. In the future, new publicly accessible Tesla charging stations must also function with the European charging stations.

“It is important for the success of electro-mobility that anyone can charge their car without discrimination at publicly accessible charging stations,” according to the economy ministry.

A comprehensive expansion of the charging infrastructure is considered an important prerequisite for a breakthrough in e-mobility in Germany. The federal government’s goal is to have one million electric cars on German roads by 2020. But so far, only around 12,000 purely electric cars are registered.

At a rapid charging station a car can partially or fully juice up within a few minutes; at normal charging spots the process takes hours.

Currently, there are 4,800 publicly accessible stations with normal charging speeds, and 100 with faster charging speeds, according to Germany’s National Electric Mobility Platform (NPE). In addition, there are charging options at home and at the workplace.

The German government and auto industry want to significantly increase the number of charging stations along the autobahn and in the major cities. The goal, according to the draft regulation, is to have 7,000 rapid charging locations and 28,000 normal charging spots by 2020. At a rapid charging station a car can partially or fully juice up within a few minutes; at normal charging spots the process takes hours.

Industry sees the standardization of charging installations as being an important step. But the companies still would like further support, such as government subsidization of the expansion of charging stations. According to industry information they are not currently economically viable. The German government has rejects that demand.

However, e-mobility has received support in other areas. Electric cars receive discounts with Germany’s motor vehicle tax and its company car tax. According to the economy ministry, there are also efforts underway with the German states to consider “a special write-off for electric cars used for commercial purposes for a limited time period.”

The German federal government has also made available a good €1 billion ($1.18 billion) for research and development into electro-mobility over the past three years. There has been a particular focus on the development of battery cell manufacturing with the newest technologies.

Klaus Stratmann covers the energy beat for Handelsblatt. To contact him: [email protected]