The development of electric mobility and charging infrastructure in Germany

How far is the development of electric mobility, charging infrastructure, and payment systems in Germany? Find out more about electric mobility.

10. September 2020

Coverage with charging infrastructure

In Germany, the replacement of vehicles with combustion technology for diesel and gasoline by electrically powered vehicles is continuously promoted. A considerable amount of money is invested in research and technology, the expansion of the necessary charging infrastructure, and vehicle technology.

According to the rules of the market economy, however, the market penetration of electric cars will not occur until the price and performance of electric cars are in line and can compete with gasoline/diesel vehicles. This is accompanied by practical problems of everyday life, especially in connection with the charging process, that need to be solved.

There is no shortage of charging stations in purely mathematical terms. As of March 2019, there are approximately 15.000 charging stations with 43.000 charging points in Germany, which covers the demand for charging stations for existing electric vehicles pretty well.

The public and private charging infrastructure will continue to be expanded to keep pace with an increase in the number of electric vehicles.

The BDEW German Association of Energy and Water Industries has launched a public charging register, where you can find information on the location and type of charging stations available in Germany.

The number of electric cars on offer is rising steadily

Not everyone can afford a Tesla for €60,000, and in earlier years, there were hardly any electric cars for ordinary earners that could compete with conventional cars in terms of price, performance, and range.

The market for electric cars is steadily expanding, and there is now a wide range of available electric cars, even in the lower and medium price segments with a more convenient range. Even smaller models have a range of about 100-200 km, which is more than sufficient for everyday use, especially since the electric car can be conveniently recharged every night at home and, if necessary, also at work during the day.

For more information, please also read our article “Range of an electric car”, where we discuss the topic of range in more detail.

The “National Electric Mobility Development Plan of the Federal Government” has set a target of 1 million electric vehicles on Germany’s roads in 2020. This will probably not be achieved, although sales figures have recently been increasing significantly.

Uniform payment process at public charging stations – amendment to the Charging Station Ordinance

The public charging infrastructure is provided by different operators who initially offered different payment options. As an electric car owner, you don’t want to have to deal with different payment methods, sign extra contracts, or install an app for every charging station operator.

This problem has been recognized, and the aim is to automate the payment process to a large extent, independent of the charging station operator. For this purpose, the Charging Column Ordinance was amended in 2017, which was welcomed by the NPE (National Platform for Electric Mobility). This ensures a uniform, interoperable payment system for the charging infrastructure and forms one of the foundations for the successful development of electric mobility.

Local public transport with electric buses

The situation looks much better with electric buses for local public transport because there is a set bus schedule and the distance a bus covers per day is fixed. Charging can be carried out during the night on the premises of the vehicle pool, and electric buses are therefore not dependent on public charging infrastructure. More and more cities and municipalities are testing electric busses, and it is expected that they will successfully establish themselves in public urban and rural transport.

Problems to be solved for better development of electric mobility

No dedicated city parking spaces for electric cars

A potential electric car buyer is primarily concerned with whether and where the electric car can be charged, how much time the charging process takes, and how far the car can travel. For example, if a city resident does not have a fixed parking space, there is no guarantee that there will be a parking space with charging facilities close to home. Sometimes the charging station is too far away, so that it is too inconvenient to park the vehicle at the charging station and to walk a long way home.

Waiting time at the electric charging station

It is simple with conventional refueling: you drive to the gas station, refuel for 1-3 minutes, pay, and continue driving.

Public fast charging stations with approx. 50 kW charging power require 30-45 min for charging, and it is difficult to use this time for other purposes. The required charging time must be reduced significantly and must be supported by both the charging station and the charging technology of the electric car.

Battery wear due to fast charging and increased operating costs

The faster a battery is charged, the faster it wears out, causing the operating costs of an electric car to increase unexpectedly. When the battery is charged slowly, it will last longer, but the charging process will be prolonged.

Utilization of the power grid with simultaneous charging for electric cars

More electric cars require more electricity, and most private households charge their electric cars in the evening or at night. This means that the charging processes are not evenly distributed throughout the day but instead create load peaks in the evening hours. These peaks must be intercepted by intelligent energy management because expanding the energy transmission network with thicker power cables would incur immense costs and would extend the time horizon over the years.


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