why the deployment of 100,000 charging points is still stuck in France

Setting a quantified goal is a laudable ambition. Holding on to it is an entirely different matter. The case of electric charging points is an emblematic example in this regard. In October 2020, Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari had promised 100,000 charging points by the end of 2021 (note that a single terminal has multiple charging points). However, it is clear that as of March 31, 2022 – the April 30 figures are not yet known – the account is still not there.

On that date, only 57,732 electric charging points were open to the public in France, according to the joint barometer of the national association for the development of electric mobility (Avere) and the Ministry of Ecological Transition based on GIREVE data, a platform created in 2013, namely by Renault, Caisse des Dépôts, EDF Enedis.

In other words, the government’s objective was only achieved in 57.7%, despite the various regulations.

> THE FILE. Electric car: investigation into the “business” of charging stations

Highways and parking lots show the way

All motorway service areas must therefore be equipped with electric charging points by the end of 2022. For example, motorway operator Sanef (10.957 km) launched, in late 2021, a three-lot tender to deploy around 500 fast charging points in its 72 rest areas. “We wanted to avoid failures on one and the same axis, as well as white areas where no candidate would position themselves”, declares, in private, its director-general Arnaud Quémard. Result: one lot was awarded to Fastnet, another to Engie and another to TotalEnergies.

The latter has already inherited at the end of 2020, and that after being exempted in mid-2019 from sponsoring the Olympic Games, from the concession of the capital’s charging points. In a car park located under the Place de la Madeleine, the energy company has already installed 505 charging points, that is, in more than 50% of the existing locations. The legal obligation is 5%, but “our equipment rate is around 20, 30% or even 50%”declares, for the gallery, Gislaine Geffroy, CEO of Saemes, in which City Hall is the majority shareholder.

Highways, car parks… These infrastructures are the driving forces behind the development of charging points because the legislation requires it. On the other hand, nothing obliges a municipality to implement an offer in its territory. When the elected leaders of the agglomerations decide to follow the path, they do so because of the low-emission mobility zones (ZFE-m) that prohibit, in the medium term, the circulation of the most polluting vehicles.

Startup Yespark raises 28 million euros and targets 30,000 points by 2025

The main French cities are also the main target of the young Yespark section, which specializes in renting parking spaces. the initialization has just announced a fundraising of 28 million euros to multiply by… 60 its offer of electric charging points. It now has 500, will have installed 2,000 by the end of 2022 and promises 30,000 by the end of 2025.

In other words, with this inflow of fresh money, it is preparing to quadruple, every year, and for four years, the supply of available charging points. “We know how to orchestrate deployment,” explain to the gallery Thibault Chary, co-founder of Yespark. “That means we have both hands in the parking spaces, but also electricians from service providers, as we work with the network manager Enedis and the electricity providers”he adds.

In comparison, Indigo, which claims the place of leader worldwide in parking spaces, claims, as of April 27 and in France, 1,050 electric charging points, up from 2,850 at the end of 2022 and 8,000 at the end of 2025. Unlike Yespark, it is not an operator terminal and must partner with installers such as Electra or Engie Solutions, a subsidiary of the eponymous group.

Condos remain a white zone

This will not preclude white areas such as single-family homes without a garage, private residential residences or social housing projects. Only 2% of condominiums are effectively equipped with electric charging stations. The issue of financing can actually slow down homeowners. Or the co-ownership advances the installation bills, for regularization, as well as the electricity consumption bills, before the service provider bills resident users again.

Or a company positions itself to finance the collective installation before the user-inhabitant subscribes to a subscription corresponding to his electricity bill. A second option that can facilitate voting at general meetings. Especially since the “Climate and Resilience” law of August 2021 allows voting to be done by simple majority.

The road to deployment is likely to be winding in France. As a reminder, at the European level, Brussels announced last July its ambition to deploy 3.5 million charging points by 2030.

Electric car: the puzzle of charging stations in “white areas”