German autobahn service company Tank & Rast has implemented a publicly subsidised network of 50kW multi-chargers at the majority of its 400 locations. In an interview with electrive.com, Jörg Hofmeister, the company’s electric mobility specialist, reveals how the charging parks are progressing.
When asked to comment on the development of electric mobility in 2017, specifically regarding the growing visibility of charging stations along highways, Hofmeister reaffirmed that the year had indeed been one of growth in the electric mobility arena for Tank & Rast, as well as for the rest of Germany. “We are pleased that today we are able to present a nationwide fast-charging net within our service network alongside German highways”, he says. The network’s dimension reached approximately 300 facilities, which Hofmeister believes will significantly add to the long-distance capabilities of electric vehicles in and around Germany. The company’s statistics show a growing customer base and thus a growing enthusiasm for electric mobility, which he hopes to meet by expanding the charging network and providing an increased density of charging facilities.
Currently Tank & Rast’s parks only have single DC multi-chargers providing CCS and Chamedo connectors at a level of 50 kW. Plans for expansion have been announced, so we asked about details and learned that while currently most locations only have one or two multi-chargers, demand has not really exceeded the current supply. However, with the future in mind, most of these locations were designed in a way to be easily upgradeable, such as by laying sufficiently advanced cables, avoiding the need for costly and slow construction demands when demand for autobahn charging facilities grows.
For Tank & Rast, the potential of electric mobility is clearly visible; not only from the sales numbers, but also from the announcements and plans published by OEMs. “It is our ambition to provide and support mobility concepts actively and to help create tomorrows’ transport grid”, states Hofmeister. That is, why Tank & Rast partners with EnBW, E.ON, Innogy and INOITY – “our target is to upgrade as many of our existing charging stations as possible.”
The current 50kW charging capabilities are believed to meet the needs of a large amount of electric vehicles, however, Tank & Rast does plan to invest in higher capacities to gradually decrease the charging time for customers. The next major step will be thus to boost the charging power to levels between 150kW and 350kW, however this project is tied to the development and licensing of further technology, such as cooled cables. The service company plans to closely monitor the demand on individual stations and expand accordingly, but they expect an increase in CCS-capable vehicles in the near future. Expansion is planned in the coming months, which will include both the increase in charging capabilities as well as adding additional charging points.
While Rast & Tank is working to provide conception, technical planning, tendering, as well as the implementation of the stations, the above mentioned partners are in charge of the charging infrastructure itself. So far, just one charging specialist operates at each site. Costs for the roll-out of the multi-lateral project are divided proportionally. According to Hofmeister, the goal is to provide a simpler, more intuitive and attractive offer for drivers of electric vehicles, and help to transition to a new age of transportation. The company hopes to see not only an increase in use, but also a greater awareness of drivers regarding electric vehicles. Hofmeister says that the future of global mobility cannot be solved by any individual actor, but that a network of partners can provide a much better experience and design, which should be a central goal of future developments in the sector.