Five questions for Linda Boll
1) About a year ago, the Federal Government adopted the Charging Infrastructure Master Plan II. How do you assess the current legal framework? Are there any areas where you see room for improvement?
We still consider the Charging Infrastructure Master Plan II to be a fundamental step in the right direction. The master plan explicitly emphasizes the role of local authorities in the expansion of charging infrastructure and stresses that the necessary space should be allocated on a competitive basis. If there is anything we can criticize, it is that these measures are still being implemented too slowly. However, we hope that things will pick up speed soon, especially in order to facilitate the rapid implementation of the German network. We at Fastned have also been awarded the contract for 92 search areas with the recently published awards for the German network and are now relying on joint cooperation with local authorities, building authorities and network operators.
2) In the past, you have emphasized that there is a lack of suitable locations in your sector rather than a lack of financial resources. You already cooperate successfully with everyday service providers such as bakeries and supermarkets. Are there any other collaborations in various sectors of the economy? Are further collaborations planned? Which collaborations would be strategically important, but are difficult or impossible to achieve?
Exactly, visible, attractive, highly frequented and well-developed locations are essential for the construction of our fast-charging stations. We are now dependent on cooperation with private and commercial property owners and local authorities, especially as part of the German network. We are happy to receive location suggestions at email@example.com. Of course, it is also conceivable that businesses will set up shop at our stations or are already located there - especially in connection with daily necessities. After all, charging should be as convenient as possible.
3. the number of new electric car registrations fell sharply in September. So why keep building charging stations? Growth market! How do you counter the criticism that there are too many charging points in Germany in relation to the number of new registrations of electric cars?
In our opinion, this needs to be viewed in a differentiated way. On the one hand, this is only a snapshot; some time ago it was the other way around and there was talk of apparently too few charging points. As of July 1, 2023, the Federal Network Agency's register of charging points contained around 79,000 normal charging points and around 19,000 fast charging points. However, the expansion of the fast-charging infrastructure is lagging massively behind, especially in cities. Only a few vehicles per day can charge at isolated AC charging points in inner-city areas with long standing times and correspondingly low capacities. At a fast-charging station with 300 kW power, on the other hand, an electric car can be charged within 15 minutes for a range of up to 300 kilometers. And it's even faster: we have just installed the first 400 kW chargers in Germany at our Hilden site. So we don't need more charging points in general, but more fast-charging points.
It is important for me to add that we at Fastned are building for the future. With the current exponential increase in the number of new e-car registrations, we see an unmet need for charging facilities in the coming years, especially along highways and in conurbations. So no one should sit back and rest on their laurels with the current figures.
4) Fastned is investing in the expansion of its fast-charging network throughout Europe and is focusing on stations with many different charging points. What do you think of the approach - for example in cooperation with housing associations or housing construction companies - to selectively equip private and public residential areas with powerful DC charging points?
Our main concern at Fastned is that a nationwide fast-charging infrastructure is needed. Of course, this also includes installing fast-charging solutions in neighborhoods. Here, too, the following applies: not just isolated AC charging points, but nationwide fast-charging stations so that a large number of electric cars can be charged in the course of a day.
5) How do you envision the optimal charging location? Do you have visions that go beyond the pure charging function?
Fast-charging infrastructure must be planned for the future. This means: spacious fast-charging hubs, similar to conventional filling stations, with roofing, a drive-through principle, numerous pillars and a store. What distinguishes the fast-charging hub from a conventional filling station, however, is that E-car drivers spend longer here, so the quality of stay must be higher, and this can be achieved by providing a playground and sufficient seating, for example. In this way, the charging and comfort requirements of e-car drivers can be met efficiently and in a contemporary way, while at the same time driving forward the mobility transition.