investment funds for the redemption of charging points

This is a political objective announced in October 2020 for the end of 2021, but not yet achieved in May 2022: the deployment of 100,000 electric charging points in France. According to the latest joint barometer of the national association for the development of electric mobility (Avere) and the Ministry of Ecological Transition, based on data from GIREVE, a platform created in 2013, namely by Renault, Caisse des Dépôts, EDF Enedis, only 60,040 Electric charging points, more or less fast, are open to the public in France from April 30th.

Electric car: why the deployment of 100,000 charging points is still stalled in France

Terminals at consumption locations

In other words, the will of Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari is only 60% satisfied, despite various regulations. All motorway service areas must be effectively equipped with electric charging points by the end of 2022. Same deadline for non-residential car parks, which must reserve 5% of their spaces for electric mobility. Same percentage required for shopping malls.

Among the 38.3 million passenger cars in circulation, according to data from the Ministry of Ecological Transition as of January 1, 2021, 886,439 are rechargeable electric and hybrid vehicles according to the national association for the development of electric mobility (Avere). All sources combined, 75-80% are recharged at home or work and 25-20% while roaming, i.e. traveling between point A and point B.

A difference of 1 to 3 or even 1 to 4 that would be in the process of being reduced. Investment funds specialized in infrastructure are starting to invest in players capable of establishing themselves in consumer places, such as shopping malls, mass distribution, hotels or restaurants.

“It’s the chicken and the egg”

More recent: French equity investor Antin Infrastructure Partners has just injected 150 million euros into Power Dot, taking joint control of the operator of fast and ultra-fast charging stations. The latter claims the implementation – in progress – of 2,500 charging points in the parking lot of brands such as Cora and M. Bricolage and E. Leclerc or KFC franchises. Goal: reach 7,000 fast charge points by 2025.

“It’s the chicken and the egg: people will buy electric vehicles when they can charge them. We are convinced that it will be a day-to-day affair: Saturday mornings at the supermarket, Wednesdays at lunchtime at fast food with the kids.” explains Nicolas Mallet, a partner at Antin Infrastructure Partners, to La Tribune.

This fund is not the only one to position itself on the matter. As of 2018, the “company with a specialized mission in the development, financing and long-term management of sustainable public infrastructure” Meridiam bought 100% of Allego, operator of all types of electric and power vehicles, including scooters, bicycles and scooters. At a factory in Valence, the stations are assembled, before being transported, deposited and connected to their customers.

The fund therefore entered into a partnership with Carrefour to deploy, by the end of 2023, 2,000 charging points distributed across all 200 hypermarkets, more than half of which will have ultra-fast charging. Meridiam, which claims other partners such as the metropolis of Toulouse or the automaker Nissan, covets other targets, such as shopping centers and leisure activities.

What return on investment?

Still, the return on investment is already guaranteed: bought “for around 200 million euros”, states that a spokesperson for the New York-listed group, Allego, was worth €3 billion at the start of 2022. Obviously, it’s too early to talk about that from the Antin Infrastructure Partners side.

“We’re looking at our return on investment over time,” confides Nicolas Mallet, partner. “It is a less mature investment than a water concession, for example, and one that requires capex”, he adds. That is, if for a water concession, the investor is remunerated and reimburses his investments on the price of water; for an electric charging point, it must also incur material investment expenses.

If a terminal, which has one or more points, “not a very big investment” – of the order of 50,000 euros -, “the network effect”, that is, the fact of linking a certain territory, offers an infrastructure at the same time “agile” and answering “a long time” investment in infrastructure, continues the Antin executive.

Predictability software to study the best locations

Anyway, with at least 7,000 electric charging points for the latter and 2,000 for the Meridiam, the two funds can contribute to achieving at least 10% of the 100,000 point goal.

“Installing a terminal, connecting it to the network and getting people to come might seem easy, but it’s much more complex than that, many terminals don’t work. I don’t know if we can help maintain the bet, but our know-how is beneficial for the entire sector”, says, with all the nuances, Nicolas Mallet, of Antin Infrastructure Partners.

“There are means, technical, financial and human to put into practice”, eludes the spokesman for Meridiam.

The latter, however, says he is developing predictability software to study the best locations for electric charging points, but won’t say anything more. “for obvious reasons of competition and confidentiality”.

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