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Europe Still Slow With Fast Charging

In the United States, Tesla Motors is in the process of building a nationwide network of 120-kW superchargers, which can give EVs a convenience close to that of a gas car. In Europe though, super-fast charging is still a distant dream. In Western France, the department of la Vendée (an administrative region roughly the size of a U.S. county) has just announced a grand plan to boost electromobility with the installation of 350 public chargers. Out of that total though, only four fast chargers!

At least those fast chargers should be dual units and provide both AC 43-kW and 50-kW DC current, but a balance of barely one percent of fast chargers in a charging network is totally inadequate. The worse part is that this is the government’s will. Last year, France had unveiled a bill which could bring public money to those installing a charging station. Unfortunately, a major flaw of the bill was that the more powerful the charger, the less public money there would be to finance its installation.
The first public charger with the new Combo plug

The first public charger with the new Combo plug.

The European Commission is probably at fault too. It was too imprecise when it unveiled its clean fuel strategy last January. The plan is to have nearly 800,000 chargers in the whole of the European Union by 2020. I had the opportunity to meet a man behind this strategy the following month, and I asked him if there was a plan to fix a legal ratio between slow and fast chargers. There isn’t. The result is that EV drivers in some countries will get the bare minimum—meaning shabby 3.6-kW chargers.

There are a few bright initiatives though.

In the U.K., the government gives grants to those installing charging stations, with the size of the grant increasing with the charger’s power. In Germany, BMW has initiated a program to install fast chargers on the highway between Munich and Nuremberg. There are many other local initiatives all over Northern Europe, following the leadership of Norway and Estonia
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