Charging Stations for e-Cars will not be a Bottleneck

Dear Shareholders,

Two points in particular have so far been viewed critically for the success of electric vehicles: The range and the possibly inadequate supply of electricity or charging points.

The allegedly too small range should soon be eliminated from the critical discussions. This is because more and more electric car models are coming onto the market that can travel 400 to 500 kilometers with a single charge. This corresponds to about 250 to 300 miles and is completely sufficient for the “normal” demand.

The criticism also seems to be exaggerated when it comes to power supply, as the respected German business magazine “Wirtschaftswoche” puts it using Germany as an example: There are about 45 million cars here. They drive an average of 13,800 kilometers per year. That adds up to 621 billion kilometres or around 390 billion miles. Electric cars consume an average of 17.3 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per 100 kilometres (a good 60 miles). The bottom line is that if all cars in Germany were powered exclusively by electricity, the annual electricity requirement would increase by 105 terawatts (TWh). That sounds like more than it is. Because it corresponds to just 15 percent of Germany’s annual electricity production.

In addition, half of the additional electricity demand is already produced today. Last year, Germany exported more than 50 TWh of electricity abroad. It should also be borne in mind that not all car owners are switching from vehicles with combustion engines to those with electric motors overnight. After all, enormous amounts of electricity could be saved in other areas. For example, by switching from street lighting to LEDs. And this brings us to the next “point of criticism”, which often has a big question mark behind it: too few charging points.

A lot of new and sometimes extremely innovative concepts are currently being developed or even introduced already. The Berlin start-up, Ubritricity, has developed a technology with which streetlights can be “upgraded” to charging points. The costs are manageable at around 1,000 euros per lantern. As a first step, Ubritricity has now been commissioned to set up 1,000 public charging points. In addition, there are 600 more for apartment buildings and commercial properties.

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The VW Group is also very active in the areas of electromobility and charging stations. In the coming year, a compact car will come onto the market for less than 30,000 euros (34,000 US dollars). VW will take various measures to ensure that the electric cars of Germany’s largest volume manufacturer do not lack charging points. For example, the group wants to set up Powerbanks for e-autos, so to speak. The mobile charging stations are to be positioned wherever they are needed, independent of the power grid: On public parking lots, on company premises or at major events. After all, one charging station should be enough for 15 e-cars. If the energy content drops to less than 20 percent, the mobile charging station will be replaced with a fully charged one, according to the plan. Wind or solar energy will be used to refuel the station, thus eliminating another point of criticism. And that is the fact that in Germany electric cars are charged with an average of around 40 percent coal electricity. VW plans to launch a first pilot project at its headquarters in Wolfsburg in the coming weeks.

VW also supports another clever idea: The start-up company LoyalGo wants to develop charging points that simultaneously function as digital advertising pillars and can be rented out for advertising purposes. This should solve the problem that charging points do not earn money when there are no cars to refuel. The start-up is currently working in a VW incubator.

Instead of concentrating on the supposed weak points of electric mobility, companies and investors should work better on solutions. After all, this will allow them to earn good money in the future.