Breaking News

European carmakers hope to catch Tesla with faster e-car chargers

Stock MarketsJan 11, 2017 07:39
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO - A Tesla Model S charges at a Tesla Supercharger station in Cabazon, California

By Christoph Steitz

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Europe's biggest carmakers are drawing on the full force of the continent's industrial prowess to build a network of ultra-fast charging stations as they look to stoke demand for electric cars and break Tesla's (O:TSLA) stranglehold on the market.

BMW (DE:BMWG), Volkswagen (DE:VOWG_p), Ford (N:F) and Daimler (DE:DAIGn) plan to build about 400 next-generation charging stations in Europe that can reload an electric car in minutes instead of hours.

The long time it takes to charge batteries is one of the main disadvantages of electric cars compared to conventional cars with gasoline tanks that can be filled up in seconds.

Until now, drivers of electric cars have had to leave their vehicles plugged in for hours at a charging station for a journey between cities, making many long range journeys impractical.

Installing new, faster chargers would spur the overall market, and also help the traditional car manufacturers close the gap with Tesla, the Silicon Valley-based e-car leader, which maintains its own network of charging stations. Tesla's chargers are the fastest in the industry, and are incompatible with existing electric cars made by rivals.

The carmakers are roping in experts from the European power and engineering industry, including Germany's Innogy (DE:IGY), E.ON (DE:EONGn) and Siemens (DE:SIEGn) and Portugal's Efacec, which are all working on the technology, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The new 350 kilowatt (kW) chargers would be nearly three times as powerful as Tesla's.

"This is a structured and concerted effort across sectors to tackle the infrastructure issue in a real way," one of the sources said.

A spokesman for Ford, speaking on behalf of the consortium, said talks with possible partners had started, adding he expected several energy providers to be part of the planned network, without elaborating further.

Tesla's tech billionaire CEO Elon Musk has hinted that the company will not be outdone, tweeting that 350 kW chargers are a "children's toy". A Germany-based spokeswoman for the company declined to comment beyond Musk's remarks.


European carmakers believe they are on the cusp of a surge in demand for electric vehicles. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche expects electric vehicles will make up 15-25 percent of Mercedes sales by 2025.

But first, technicians have to solve the problem of conveniently charging them up.

Europe already has a network of nearly 72,000 public charging stations for electric cars, but most are so slow they take hours for a meaningful charge.

The International Energy Agency says only about 5,800 European charging stations are "fast", which it defines as charging at a rate of 43 kW or more, the equivalent of operating 90 washing machines simultaneously.

The fastest chargers in widespread use on the continent so far are the more than 1,800 installed so far by Tesla. At 120 kW, they still need half an hour to give a car enough juice to drive 270 km.

As the market for electric cars grows, traditional car makers are going to find it easier to catch up with Tesla, said Graham Evans, automotive analyst at IHS Markit.

"Tesla doesn't really have anyone to answer to, they are independent," he said. "(But) I think that further out the big (automakers) are in a better position to capitalise because of their more extensive resources."

Installing thousands of fast chargers across the globe will require billions of dollars in investment and offer an opportunity to manufacturers. The car consortium's new fast chargers will cost about 200,000 euros (173,827.16 pounds) each.

U.S. market leader ChargePoint upped the ante last week by announcing stations of up to 400 kW that will be available from July.

Navigant Research analyst Lisa Jerram said the number of players in the nascent market to build ultra-fast charging stations makes it difficult to call out a winner yet.

"Development is underway on these chargers so there isn't a leader at this point," she said.

So far, makers of charging stations are focused mainly on getting exposure and market share by installing as many as possible. But sooner or later, investors are going to want to see profits, which means that cost will come to matter more.

That holds true even for Tesla, which is starting to adjust its business model as the industry grows up.

Tesla cars ordered up until this week have come with free electricity from its charging stations. But owners who order their cars after Jan. 15 will have to pay to power them up once they reach a limit, although the company says the price will always be cheaper than gasoline.

"Burning money as a result of the market and technology not being ready is unlikely to be rewarded by shareholders," said Thomas Deser, senior fund manager at Union Investment.

European carmakers hope to catch Tesla with faster e-car chargers

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email