In November, automakers BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen struck up a surprising alliance on the electromobility front. The rivals agreed on working together to advance a network of fast-charging stations across Europe.
Now energy company E.ON has announced it's also getting in on the action. On Tuesday, at the E-world energy trade fair in the western city of Essen, the German power giant unveiled its strategic partnership with Danish electric mobility player Clever. Along with the automakers' initiative, this could be the big push that brings electromobility into the mainstream.
E.ON and Clever want to facilitate “the introduction of hundreds of rapid charging stations in Europe,” according to a statement by both companies. Charging stations would be placed at intervals of 120 to 180 kilometers along the highways in Germany, Scandinavia, Italy and other areas. The first fast-charging points are set to be installed in the third quarter of 2017 in Copenhagen.
E.ON is hoping to "pave the way" with its contribution, said Frank Meyer, who is responsible for innovation at the company. Indeed, fast-charging infrastructure is pivotal to the success of electromobility. Powering up must be a quick and convenient affair in order to appeal to consumers.
So automakers, who are set on electromobility revolutionizing the industry, are hedging their bets by investing in charging stations of their own. Together, the initiative is promising an additional 400 stations in the coming years on main roads and highways.
Rapid charging infrastructure is pivotal to the success of electromobility.
Right now, normal stations with an alternating current have a capacity of roughly 22 kilowatts and fast-charging stations with a direct current have 50 kilowatts. Charging an electric car with the latter takes longer than an hour. However E.ON's charging stations should have a power output of up to 350 kilowatts, charging vehicles within minutes and more than one at a time.
E.ON and Clever’s plan fits perfectly with the automakers' vision. Initially, the German-Danish partnership wanted to build charging stations with a capacity of 150 kilowatts, with the idea that these would eventually be retrofitted for a capacity of 350 kilowatts. Even with a charge of 150 kilowatts, a car with a range of 400 kilometers can be fully charged within 20 to 30 minutes.
Clever's chief executive, Caspar Kirketerp-Møller, declined to discuss development plans and investment numbers in detail. Since 2009, the company has constructed, operated and maintained charging stations in several Nordic countries. E.ON also has an independent stake in electromobility, operating many normal-speed charging stations.
E.ON's Mr. Meyer said the companies are open to discussing partnerships, perhaps also with the automakers' initiative.
Innogy, a subsidiary of another German energy company RWE, has expressed its interest too. As the company's boss Peter Terium said at the trade fair: “I’m convinced that electromobility is on the cusp of a breakthrough.”
Jürgen Flauger covers the energy market for Handelsblatt, including electricity and gas providers, international market developments and energy policy. To contact the author: [email protected]