Lack of rapid chargers slows down car sales

The lack of rapid charging stations in Sweden limits the range of most electric cars to about 50-100 km from home (100-200 km return trip). As long as the expansion of the fast charger is slow so will the development of the electric car fleet be as only those with access to a conventional car (beside the electric) will invest in the new technology. 

As an owner of an electric car, I have learned that charging broadly can be divided into two categories – slow charging overnight and rapid charging while doing an errand.

Slow chargers

All owners of electric cars charge overnight. I have in a previous post (Standard charger enough at home) written that it does not matter whether the charging time is  3 , 6, 8 or 10 hours as the time that the car is stationary overnight is normally more than 12 hours anyway.

Rapid chargers

To increase the range of an electric car rapid chargers are required. Only with these is it possible to reach targets beyond the battery range in one day. It will be some time before the electric car owner takes the electric car on any long road trip , at least if you exclude fundamentalists (and there are some among the pioneers) and conservative motoring journalists who indeed will show that EVs are subordinate fossil fueled cars.

Rapid charger can double the range if placed in the right places. But it requires that the charge time is short enough that the car can be charged during a brief stop, such as a lunch break or a walk in the shopping centre. It is not an absolute time limit, but around an hour is probably a maximum.

11 fast chargers in Sweden

For BMW i3 only the CCS EU chargers are fast enough for a brief stop (CCS loads in about half an hour) . Unfortunately, these conspicuous by their absence and plans are unfortunately not particularly encouraging either. According to uppladdning.nu there are only 11 CCS stations in all of Sweden. Three are located in Stockholm, but the next chargers for people living here are in Linkoping, Karlskoga or Falun. These cities are 200 km or more from the city and that is beyond reach for a BMW i3 (at least BEV). See map below.

The Nordic utility company Fortum plans to convert CHAdeMO chargers in Nyköping and Norrköping in April and that will enable people in Stockholm to leave the capital. There are also planned chargers in Västerås and Örebro. Planned charging stations are shown on a map, but there is not clear on that map what standard the chargers supports. For example, chargers at McD Uppsala and Lindvreten will NOT be converted to support CCS.

Fast chargers are cheap and more are needed A rapid charger in street environment costs a ten thousand Euro or more, but that is relatively cheap compared to other infrastructure. Compare to a gas station that requires large land areas and will also need to handle requirements for explosive fuels and regular shipments of it to the station. A quick charger takes almost no space and can be placed where there is already a parking lot today.

Different standards and clumsy politicians slow down the expansion

As much as new charging technologies help to make electric cars more attractive, they also slow down the rollout because of uncertainty and the cost increases when the charging stations must meet several standards. Today there are three main standards for rapid charging: CCS EU (BMW, Volkswagen, Ford, Audi, Porsche, Chevrolet and Daimler), CHAdeMO (Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Toyota) and Tesla.

CCS EU on BMW i3

CCS EU on BMW i3

The second reason that expansion is slow is that European politicians could not resist making demands on charging stations. Above all, they require electric customers should have a choice ot supplier at the charging station. Come on – it’s about 3 EUR for a full battery. It should be included in the parking fee.

Existing (green) and planned (gray) CCS

Existing (green) and planned (gray) CCS

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14 thoughts on “Lack of rapid chargers slows down car sales

  1. Hi

    Thanks for a nice blog! I agree that rapid charging stations are important to expand the usage of EVs. From a pure city car to something you can use also to make trips outside the city.

    /Nick

  2. Hi

    Thx for this post! I will order an i3 REX next week. But, I’m not sure what to do with the charger… Shall i go for the 15.000 sek kit, and be safe for the future? Or, shall i skip it and rely on my REX?… Maybe skip the chargers and go for the Loft interior… I would enjoy it every day, and i will own the car for 3 years. Don’t know what i should chose. :/

    1. Hi Alex,

      I think and hope that rapid charges will be built quickly, and that this is only a slow start. Utility companies, restaurants and owners of shopping centres struggle to see the benefits of building rapid charges as long as the number of electric cars is low. Number of cars will stay low as long as there are few rapid charges. Catch-22.

      There is a need for government to get the ball rolling with subsidies. Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndighet) invests 285 MSEK in a number of projects but is it enough? And is the balance between thinking/talking and investments in actual charging stations correct? Follow link to see some.

      I invested in the AC/DC charging capability (4U7+4U8) on our BMW i3 and hope it was the right choice…

      1. Hi

        I have decided to skip the charger. If i look at my driving pattern i never need to fast charge it. I would rather go for the nice Loft interior or skip it and have a very low monthly cost! 🙂

  3. EU parlement is just too busy voting laws wether or not refilling olive oil bottels in restaurants is permitted… bunch of idiots.

  4. Fortum is having problems with their rapid chargers and it is still not possible to use CCS. The following mail was sent from the dealer the other day:

    “Under en tid har det varit problem med Fortums Comboladdare, vilket är den standard som BMW i3 använder för snabbladdning. Problemet är nu identifierat och vi arbetar tillsammans med vår leverantör för att åtgärda det snarast. Så fort vi vet att laddarna fungerar som de ska, kommer vi att gå ut med information om det”

  5. Mycket informativ sida du har, i alla fall för en som går i långt framskridna i3 köpplaner.

    Har dock några frågor som du kanske kan svara på här varav en gäller laddare och passar vid detta inlägg. Är det lönt att köpa till “snabbladdar” funktionen som bmw sverige tar 15k extra för? Är det ovanstående standard som man då får?

  6. Hi Stefan,

    If you have access to a second car and will ONLY use the i3 for trips in your home region, i.e commuting to/from work and day trips up to 100 km, then you do not need the rapid charge functionality.

    If you occasionally will do longer trips my advice would be to buy the rapid charger OR the Range Extender (REX). It is a matter of taste. I skipped the REX because a) you get a lighter and more fun car to drive, b) you will get the heat pump (standard in Sweden) that will extend electric range and c) future maintenance costs will be lower since there is no engine to service.

    With the rapid charger (4U7+4U8) you will be able to charge the battery from flat to 80% in 20-30 minutes. Without the 4U7+4U8 you will only be able to charge up to 3.7kW/16A and the fastest time to recharge an empty car will be 6 hours.

    However, the rapid charge functionally can only be recommended if there are rapid chargers. Right now there are none working in the Stockholm area where I live 🙁 Hope that will chage soon…
    If you have not already read it there is some more info in the post Standard charger enough at home

  7. I drive a BMW i3.
    Very nice car.
    VERY happy to have the REX. The driving range on the motorway is like 100 km…, if you do 120 km/hr with AC….
    The slightest change in planning, like forgot something at home, or the passport when going to Arlanda – without the REX I’d been toast. The normal range is OK for me, but rapid replanning is saved by the REX.
    If you choose between REX and fast charging, to me it is simple, choose the REX. A little extra weight, but in most cases the car is so quick it disappears like a paycheck anyhow.

  8. Säljer ny typ av snabbladdare med enkel betalnings funktion

    För: CHAdeMO, Combo2,mode3 43kw

    Pris: 360000:-

    Ring oss: 019-323210

    http://www.norrpro.se

    Övriga laddare: 5500:-/st exkl moms för BMW mode3
    Mode3 laddkabel: 2495:- för alla BMW ägare
    Kan beställas BMW i3 color and logo laddutag i 3 olika modeller

  9. We have just fetched our i3 and it is charging nicely over max charging level at about 12A.

    I am wondering a bit about what outlets, cables etc to buy. They are quite expensive…

    Thinking about keeping the original charger at home and make something a simple panel to keep it in. But you would need something to bring for longer trips to the airport etc. What kind of cables do you need at different charging stations, and are there some places to buy them relatively cheaply?

    ::gustaf

    1. Hi Gustaf,

      Welcome to the club!

      Just like you we are charging our i3 overnight using the standard charger delivered with the car. In the beginning I was considering both a wallbox (at home) and later maybe an additional standard charger to always have in the car. At the end we had purchased neither and I do not even consider it anymore.

      The only time an additional charger would be nice is when going the 50 km to Arlanda airport. Not because I really need to charge before returning but because I can park for free on the best parking spaces in front of the terminal. But now when I go to the airport I just unplug the one at home and bring it. As for other charging I really only require rapid charging and all of those stations have cables attached to them.

      With all respect that we all have different need, my best advice would be to wait a couple of weeks and see what your needs are. Maybe you will recognise what I did – that range anxiety is exaggerated and fades away. Maybe you will see that you need a wallbox because you want to park the car outside and cannot use the standard charges because it is not weather proofed enough. Wait and see.

      By the way, has someone seen a price an extra standard charger?

    1. Hej LarsGöran

      Bästa sidan för laddstolpar är uppladdning.nu. Har inte hittat någon täckande sida för parkering och det beror till viss del på kommun. I en del fall behöver man dessutom ansöka om parkeringstillstånd i förväg (så var det t ex i Sthlm, men nu har de tagit bort det helt).

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