Fast Char­ging Act: Tur­bo for e‑mobility on Ger­man roads?

A year ago, the Fast Char­ging Act (SchnellLG) rea­ched the Bun­des­tag. What has hap­pen­ed sin­ce then? Back in Febru­ary 2021, we repor­ted on the draft bill for the Fast Char­ging Act, which was pre­sen­ted by the Ger­man Fede­ral Minis­try of Trans­port in Decem­ber 2020. The govern­ment bill was intro­du­ced in the Bun­des­tag in March 2021, pas­sed two months later and came into force in June 2021 (PDF only in German).

Regu­la­to­ry con­tent and debate

The law is inten­ded to ensu­re the pro­vi­si­on of a nati­on­wi­de infra­struc­tu­re for fast char­ging of elec­tric vehic­les. A total of 1,000 new char­ging loca­ti­ons are plan­ned, with the nea­rest char­ging sta­ti­on always no more than 15 minu­tes away. To this end, the law regu­la­tes in out­line the ten­de­ring pro­ce­du­re for fast char­ging infra­struc­tu­re and the asso­cia­ted rights and obli­ga­ti­ons of the Fede­ral Minis­try of Trans­port and Digi­tal Infrastructure.

Despi­te the short peri­od for com­ment fol­lo­wing the pre­sen­ta­ti­on of the draft bill, the draft was shar­ply cri­ti­cis­ed by various indus­try asso­cia­ti­ons (inclu­ding the Ger­man Asso­cia­ti­on of Ener­gy and Water Indus­tries and the Ger­man eMo­bi­li­ty Asso­cia­ti­on). Howe­ver, the cri­ti­cism remain­ed lar­ge­ly unhe­ard in the fur­ther proceedings:

The objec­tion was to the over­ly nar­row scope of appli­ca­ti­on of the Fast Char­ging Act, which refers only to strict­ly elec­tric vehic­les and not to hybrid vehic­les. Accor­ding to the legis­la­ti­ve intent, char­ging on long jour­neys is not abso­lut­e­ly neces­sa­ry for vehic­les out­side the scope of appli­ca­ti­on (e.g. plug-in hybrid vehic­les), as they are pre­do­mi­nant­ly char­ged at home or at the employ­er’s pre­mi­ses. An ope­ning clau­se was also not inser­ted into the Fast Char­ging Act, despi­te objec­tions. An ope­ning clau­se would have allo­wed new tech­no­lo­gies out­side the exis­ting ones to be included in the scope of the Fast Char­ging Act wit­hout a leng­thy amend­ment pro­cess and would have allo­wed the new­ly deve­lo­ped vehic­le forms to be “quick­ly con­nec­ted to the (char­ging) network.”

The “tech­ni­cal, eco­no­mic and legal frame­work con­di­ti­ons” for the pro­vi­si­on of ser­vices to be defi­ned by the Fede­ral Minis­try of Trans­port and Digi­tal Infra­struc­tu­re will be of key importance. The rela­ti­onship bet­ween the ope­ra­tors of the char­ging points and the mobi­li­ty pro­vi­ders is also rele­vant: Accor­ding to Sec­tion 3(3) of the Fast Char­ging Act, ope­ra­tors are obli­ged to offer all mobi­li­ty pro­vi­ders equal access to the char­ging points on a non-discriminatory basis at mar­ket terms. Ope­ra­tors must the­r­e­fo­re come to terms with mobi­li­ty pro­vi­ders in their busi­ness and con­trac­tu­al relationships.

Out­look

Ten­der pro­ce­du­res to expand the net­works in Ger­ma­ny for fast char­ging infra­struc­tu­re began in Octo­ber 2021, with a final award expec­ted in the third quar­ter of 2022. It is unclear how long it will take to actual­ly build and expand the char­ging infrastructure.

A well-developed char­ging infra­struc­tu­re is essen­ti­al for e‑mobility. Pro­vi­ded this ensu­res acces­si­bi­li­ty to the nea­rest char­ging sta­ti­on in 15 minu­tes, this will appeal to many con­su­mers who are alre­a­dy thin­king about purcha­sing an e‑vehicle. Howe­ver, the expan­si­on of the infra­struc­tu­re also offers oppor­tu­ni­ties for com­pa­nies to gain a foot­hold in the future indus­try of e‑mobility.

It remains to be seen what the mar­ket con­se­quen­ces of the Fast Char­ging Act will be, in par­ti­cu­lar whe­ther and how the e‑mobility sales mar­ket will increase. What is clear, howe­ver, is that the “tech­ni­cal, eco­no­mic and legal frame­work con­di­ti­ons” will have an impact on the mobi­li­ty indus­try, becau­se both manu­fac­tu­r­ers and sup­pli­ers will ali­gn their busi­ness acti­vi­ties accor­ding to the­se frame­work con­di­ti­ons. In addi­ti­on, the actu­al ran­ge of offers from mobi­li­ty pro­vi­ders will influence con­su­mers in their choice of e‑vehicles, which will also affect (busi­ness) decis­i­ons by manu­fac­tu­r­ers and thus also sup­pli­ers. (New) chal­lenges, inclu­ding the (tech­ni­cal) sui­ta­bi­li­ty of the vehic­les for the char­ging sta­ti­ons, should be miti­ga­ted by con­tract design (for exam­p­le, qua­li­ty agree­ments) through the sup­p­ly chain.

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