What is the state of e-mobility and e-charging stations in the alpine area?

National and regional strategies on e-charging infrastructure and e-mobility of Alpine regions are based on the EU Directive 2014/94 / EU on the development of alternative fuel infrastructures. Although this reference policy establishes common standards for infrastructure interoperability, various e-charging infrastructure operators and network incompatibilities are the main reasons why e-vehicle (EV) drivers can feel that they cannot use their EVs entirety, and cross-border trips look like mission impossible. Today, there are still large differences between national e-charging stations in the Alpine area. European Type 2 standard is the most commonly used socket in Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Italy, while in France, the former Type 3C sockets are still very widespread, as this standard was used at the beginning of the e-mobility uptake. E-charging stations equipped with Type 3C sockets have not been replaced. In addition, in Italy, Type 3A is widely used to charge light electric vehicles. Although only 50% of e-charging stations are in Type 2, this number rises by more than 80% for e-charging stations above 10 kW. By June 30th 2017, around 10,535 publicly available e-charging stations were installed in the Alpine region. With an area of ​​more than 250,800 electric vehicles, of which 66% is electric vehicles with a battery, this means that on average they are 24 electric vehicles per one e-charging station. Even if this ratio is below the average recommended by the European Commission – “one e-vehicle for ten electric vehicles”, we cannot deny that in the last few years there has been progress in the expansion of e-charging infrastructure, technical standardization and interoperability in each of these countries. One of these advancements is hosting platforms (eRoaming platforms) that help end users to drive across borders.

Among charging service operators, we can distinguish between “charging point operators” (CPOs), who are responsible for the technical functioning of the e-charging network, pricing of services, charging and roaming on foreign networks, and so called “electric mobility service providers” (EMP), who sell products, services, provide information to end users, manage subscriptions to charging services, collect payments, and offer help to customers. Sometimes, both charging and operation activities (CPO and EMP) are undertaken by the same company. Nevertheless, these two activities cannot be compared, since entry costs and margins are not the same. In Slovenia, e-charging services are free of charge for most public filling stations. E-charging services for e-vehicles are charged only by Petrol. In the Alpine region, we emphasized the relatively high heterogeneity between CPOs and EMPs with regard to the size of e-charging networks and their geographical coverage: some operators run a local or regional e-charging network, while others are keen on expanding their networks on a national level. Thanks to the business models analysis carried out in e-MOTICON, INTERREG Alpine Space, we are able to emphasize that the greater the power the network delivers, the more likely it is that the operator is a specialized private company (CPO) rather than a public company, partially or in majority. This occurs because municipalities and other public authorities that run a charging network are more interested in installing e-charging stations that provide low charging power – lower speed, due to limited geographical coverage of the network. Private operators install e-charging stations with higher e-charging and mostly with a wider geographical coverage, since they have to bill a sufficient number of customers daily to maintain the profitability of operations with higher prices due to the electricity consumed over a charging session. Slow speed, low charging power also does not ensure sufficient customer flow, turnover for business success.