Owners of electric cars disappointed by the lack of fast charging stations in France

The EU’s decision to ban the sale of new fossil-fuel cars by 2035 has prompted the French government to find ways to improve the country’s network of fast electric chargers.

Lack of charging options is often cited as a reason not to opt for an electric car.

Fast chargers take 90 minutes

There are currently around 40,000 public charging stations in France, but only around a tenth of them are the most powerful of 100 kWh or more.

These allow some vehicles to fully charge – around 500km for the cars with the biggest batteries – in around 90 minutes, which French advertisers say is long enough to enjoy a restaurant meal. .

Less powerful public chargers, which fall between fast chargers and household outlets, take at least four hours for the same level of charge.

The experience of network users is mixed, with many complaints of not being able to find working chargers, especially along highways.

Most drivers charge from home, which means EVs aren’t practical for many apartment dwellers.

€1 per minute to use high power chargers

One of the early pioneers of the fast charger network is the German company Ionity, which counts Volkswagen among its shareholders.

It now has 99 charging stations with 512 stations (including 418 high power) on French motorways.

Operators have complained about the cost of installing fast charging stations in France, and the complicated system for obtaining permits to do so.

Estimates put the price of the facilities at €100,000 per charging point, with motorists therefore charging high costs to use them. Most operators now charge per minute for high power chargers, with the price of €1 per minute becoming the norm.

Installation project in call for tenders

In addition to the cost, motorists have to deal with the panoply of maps and mobile applications needed to use different chargers, which quickly becomes cumbersome.

To improve the situation, the government is launching a call for tenders for projects supporting the deployment of high-power charging stations.

He hopes to see more set up around urban areas, where people are least likely to have access to garages where they can charge cars from a home supply.

Subsidies of up to 40% of the cost of building the network are promised, out of an allocation of 300 million euros from the 2030 investment budget.

Manufacturers will not respond to calls for tenders to simplify the network

Renault, the European leader in the sale of electric vehicles, said it would not get directly involved in the supply and management of charging stations, in line with the strategy it formulated in 2007 when it started to sell electric vehicles.

It has charging stations at 450 dealerships and 600 agents who have signed up to become E-Tech specialists, although most of these are only available when the garage is open and accessible via Mobilize maps and apps.

The card is slowly expanding to other charging networks.

Most other manufacturers follow Renault’s line, although the Volkswagen group has a stake in Ionity and recommends this network.

Many municipalities also install chargers, often linked to departmental programs that work through specific mobile phone applications, with varying tariffs.

Leclerc supermarkets and hypermarkets have charging stations, but the retailer’s initial free charging has been replaced by a paid model, still with its own app.

Help with home installation

The French government grants a tax credit of 75%, limited to €300, to registered taxpayers to cover the cost of home chargers.

It can be a main or secondary residence, the credit being applied twice for a main residence inhabited by a couple.

The work must be carried out by qualified professionals.

What aid is available to buy an electric car and what are the rules?

The government’s eco-bonus, available for cars with CO2 emissions below 50g per km and hydrogen vehicles costing more than €60,000, has been changed.

From now on, any car obtained thanks to this scholarship must be kept for at least one year before it can be resold.

Previously, the deadline was six months.

The change was announced in April, presumably to limit abuse of the system, which is not means-tested and will cover 27% (up to €6,000) of the cost of a vehicle whose price is less than €45,000.

For an electric vehicle between €45,000 and €60,000, the bonus is €2,000.

Buyers must also commit to driving the purchased car for at least 6,000 km before selling it, a long-term condition of the program.

Plug-in hybrid drivers under fire for fuel economy

Environmental groups have questioned the green credentials of plug-in hybrid plug-in cars, saying drivers who don’t charge the battery have lower fuel consumption than standard petrol or diesel cars.

The vehicles, which can travel up to 50 km on battery power before needing to be recharged, are popular company cars due to tax advantages.

Orange has a fleet of 2,000 electric and hybrid cars. It says plug-in hybrids such as the Peugeot 3008, with official consumption figures of 1.4 liters per 100 km, use 3.2 liters per 100 km if driven 60% of the time in electric mode and 40% using the gasoline engine, and 8 liters per 100 km. if it only runs on petrol.

Drivers receive special training on the best way to use their car and, if fuel consumption remains high, limits are set on their petrol refill cards.

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