Green light for electric cars: recharging becomes easier

The Federal Government supplements the Charging Station Ordinance to ensure that electric vehicles can be charged nation-wide without a long-term electricity supply agreement.

Four young women in bumper cars.©

Electric mobility is key to the energy transition in the transport sector as unlike vehicles with internal combustion engines, vehicles that are powered by electricity from renewables do not emit any greenhouse gases. To allow as many people as possible to drive electric cars, the charging infrastructure has to be expanded - and a uniform charging and payment system across the EU needs to be applied. It needs to be possible for a car driver from Bremen to charge his electric motor in Bavaria or in Brittany and to pay for this easily.

In passing the Charging Station Ordinance last year, the Federal Government has stipulated that all newly established charging stations be equipped with the standard European charging plug. Now the next step must be taken: the Federal Cabinet decided a few days ago to amend the Charging Station Ordinance to simplify payment for charging electric vehicles. To date, charging stations predominantly use so-called “contract-based” charging, whereby the customer first has to enter into an electricity supply contract with an energy-service provider.

Electricity supply contract no longer necessary

In future, operators of publicly accessible charging points must allow every user of an electric vehicle to charge, even if they do not have a long-term electricity supply contract with an energy provider. In addition, authentication and payment will be standardised. If the operator does not want to provide electricity free of charge, he has to offer at least one of the following three payment options: cash, EC / credit card or web-based payment via smartphone. In the case of the web-based payment method, the user can, for example, transfer money via an app or forward it via a QR code to a system like Paypal.

The amendment transposes the EU Directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (AFID) into German law. The Bundesrat will need to approve the amendment to the ordinance before it can enter into force. Once it has passed the Bundesrat, the amendment is scheduled to enter into force before the end of summer.

Number of charging points on the rise: North Rhine-Westphalia is leading the pack

A survey by the German Association for Energy and Water Management (BDEW) shows that the number of charging stations is increasing. At the end of last year, there were 7,407 publicly accessible charging points. This is 1,571 charging points more compared to the previous year, which corresponds to an increase of approximately 27%. The Federal Government is providing 300 million EUR in funding to promote the roll-out of rapid and standard charging points by 2020.

According to BDEW, the energy providers have so far equipped 1,142 cities and municipalities with at least one publicly accessible charging point. Most of the charging points are in North Rhine-Westphalia (1,603), Baden-Württemberg (1,494) and Bavaria (1,080). Among German cities, Berlin is in first place with around 536, followed by Stuttgart and Hamburg which have 375 and 292 charging points respectively.

Bonus of up to 4,000 EUR for electric vehicle purchase

Since mid-2016, the Federal Government has been providing up to 600 million EUR to boost purchases of electric vehicles. The carmakers are contributing an equal amount. A bonus of 4,000 EUR is paid for a purchase of a new all-electric car. Buyers of plug-in hybrid vehicles receive a bonus of 3,000 EUR. Applications for the environmental bonus (purchase grant) can be submitted directly to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control until the beginning of 2019. Private individuals, companies, foundations, corporations, municipal enterprises and associations are eligible to apply.