Petroleum is neither scarce nor expensive – the Club of Rome was therefore wrong in 1972 with its bleak forecast. “Peak Oil” is still in sight: not due to the lack of oil, but due to the falling demand. While combustion engines are selling worse, electric vehicles are growing. Both can access a good infrastructure, one would think. After all, there is electricity on every corner of the house. But the space for hours of charging is scarce. The city fathers will notice this when the Stromer continue to multiply rapidly.
Where will the ten million electric cars be charged to drive on German roads in 2030? Even if all the lantern parking spaces are converted into electricity taps, the charging requirements in urban trendy areas with a high proportion of rental apartments can hardly be met. If (wider) bike paths are also to be built, it will be narrow. Metropolises such as Paris and Amsterdam want to reduce the number of cars. After the corona-related tax losses, German municipalities will think twice about not using the milking cows on the roadside.
What to do? The National Platform for Electric Mobility (NPE) assumes that 80 percent of charging will continue to take place in the private sector. But what does that mean if the electrical cables in over 70 percent of German buildings are older than 35 years? Such cables do not give much if several high-voltage devices suck on them. And rewiring the underground car park (to the next transformer) really costs money.
The infrastructure is expensive
So public charging after all: The Federal Ministry of Transport is planning 50,000 new filling stations by 2022 – double the current charging points. The automotive industry is expected to contribute a further 15,000 publicly accessible points over the same period. However, it is not clear which tap points the cities should install on the roadside. Because the variety of power sources is great: plug-in hybrids can suck a maximum of 7.5 kW, while the luxury power vehicles from Porsche up to 350 kW. The infrastructure for this is expensive, but ideally it reduces the loading time to 15 minutes for a range of 300 kilometers. The electricity supply would then be almost as fast as refueling – and the need for charging stations would be significantly lower. Thanks to buffer batteries, charging hubs can feed several power guzzlers at the same time – this works in a similar way to conventional petrol stations.
The idea that a car brand could reserve the “tank” for its customers would be absurd. Tesla did something like this with fast chargers: set up a worldwide exclusive network. In the pioneering days, this was necessary to make e-cars suitable for long distances. Of the Spiegel now reports that Audi is planning an exclusive ultra-fast charging network. The Ingolstadt-based company refuses to comment, but the idea is not entirely implausible: Audi and Porsche are developing a platform for 800-volt electric cars (PPE). The Superstromer should charge twice as fast as the models of the arch rival Tesla. The motto “loading = refueling” could be marketed with prestige and high margins. Porsche is already delighting marinas and golf courses with its own quick charging stations.
But there is no place for such brand egotisms in metropolitan areas. If the example of the exclusive charging stations were to be used, it would stall the traffic turnaround. There is already plenty of small-scale business when it comes to refueling electricity – for example when ripping off foreign customers in regional charging networks. The supervisory authorities want to counteract this with charging roaming.
However, it can not only be a matter of transmission fees, but also more coordination. Under the company name Ionity, for example, the German automakers are building super-fast loaders along the highways. The start-up initiative was necessary because no money could be made with the new infrastructure. However, the cities still have no control instrument, for example to optimize the charging capacity around the clock. Consistent towing of illegally parked people on loading spaces alone is not enough – but it would be a start.