BERLIN (AP) – Germany wants to massively expand the country’s electric car charging network, spending 6.3 billion euros ($6.17 billion) over the next three years, as it expects more drivers to switch from internal combustion cars to vehicles that are more acceptable for the climate.
The country’s transport minister presented on Wednesday a “master plan” to improve charging infrastructure that was adopted by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet earlier in the day.
“We are not just any automotive site, but the leading one in the world. And that’s why it’s important for us that what we’re preparing works well,” Volker Wissing told reporters in Berlin. “We need a nationwide expansion of charging infrastructure that meets demand and is user-friendly.”
The share of electric vehicles in Germany increased by 24.8% compared to the previous year to a total share of 14.6% of all newly registered cars, according to data published by the Federal Office for Motor Vehicles.
There are about 70,000 chargers in the country, but only 11,000 of them are fast chargers, the ministry said.
This is not enough to adequately meet current needs, and will be even less as the number of electric cars grows rapidly. There is also a big difference in the availability of chargers between big cities and rural areas, where it is even harder to find charging stations.
The goal of the German government is to have one million publicly available chargers in the country by 2030.
To increase the number of filling stations, the federal government will, among other initiatives, provide real estate, especially along highways, where new filling stations can be built. Private owners of electric cars will be offered subsidized plans to install solar panels at their homes to charge their cars overnight.
Electric charging should also be easier to use with new digital offers showing drivers where they can charge their cars on the road or they can check online how much different charging points require, the minister said.
Another issue the government wants to address is preparing the country’s electricity grid for increased demand as more people turn to electric cars.
“We expect an exponential increase in registered battery electric vehicles in the next few years, and we must prepare for that,” said the minister.
Switching Germans from cars with internal combustion engines to electric cars plays a key role in achieving the government’s climate goals set for the transport sector.
The transformation to electric cars has also been driven by a mix of regulatory pressure, tax breaks, improved battery range and a wider range of vehicles to buy.
Europe is generally leading the charge in battery-powered cars as electric vehicles enter the mainstream and has pledged to phase out internal combustion cars by 2035.
But the availability of chargers is not only a problem in Germany, but almost everywhere across the continent.
“Not only are there an insufficient number of electric chargers along the road networks in most European Union countries, but the vast majority of them are not charging fast enough,” the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said.
Or as the German minister said: “Electric mobility will only be accepted if charging is as easy as refueling today.”
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