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Electric car sales boom in France but charge point problem

Even as sales of electric vehicles soar the government has been accused of falling far short of its target to install 100,000 new charging points by the end of 2021

France has been accused of falling behind on its commitments to electric cars, as sales are strong but the number of charging points has remained stagnant despite government promises.

Last year, the electric car market boomed in France, with a market share of 5.8%.

Yet the number of charging points is not keeping pace.

In July the number of charging points across the country was 29,854; and six months later this had risen to 30,838 - an increase of just 984, figures from electric vehicle development agency Avere and electric vehicle group l’Association nationale pour la promotion du véhicule électrique showed.

Over the same period, around 66,000 new electric cars were registered, meaning that there are now more than 67 vehicles for each charging point across the country.

It comes despite Junior Transport MInister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari stating that he was aiming to have 100,000 charging points in place across France by 2021.

Read more: Electric car sales in France charging ahead

Clément Molizon, deputy director of Avere, remained optimistic. He told news source BFM Business: “If it doesn’t happen by the end of this year, it will be the beginning of 2022.”

'Five times' as many needed'

But a new study by strategy consultancy EY-Parthenon, published by trade magazine L’Usine Nouvelle, said that at the current rate, the target would not be achieved before 2024 or 2025.

Gianluigi Indino, from EY-Parthenon, said: “Even if it manages to double the number of points installed in 2021 than in 2020, France would only have reached 60,000 points by the end of 2021.

“We would need to install five times’ as many as in 2020 to reach this strategic industry objective [of 100,000 points].”

Yet, orders for charging points appear to be increasing.

Alexandre Borgoltz, director general of charging point manufacturer DBT, said: “Between June and October 2020, our quote requests quadrupled; same for November, compared to the year before.”

Several major brands have announced plans to install more charging points, including supermarket brands Leclerc, Lidl, Système U, and Casino; as well as energy companies Total and Engie.

However, they have stated goals to install just 30,000 points by 2025 - still far from the government target.

Companies are becoming increasingly interested in high-powered points that allow faster charging. In 2018 and 2019, most charging points were 50kW, whereas interest is now growing for 100kW or even 150kW points.

Mr Borgoltz said: “Up until now, charging points were being installed as a PR exercise; they were not expected to cost much, and were being installed just to see ‘what happens’.

“Now, there is real demand for proper recharging points, and in other countries - such as Norway - transport specialists are making real money on this model.”

Installation costs remain high, between €15,000-€35,000 per charging point, depending on its power.


New laws

But even as the government is being accused of falling behind on its aims, new legislation on charging points is mounting.

Transport law La Loi d’orientation sur les Mobilités (LOM) now requires charging points to have conformity certificates, and there are now laws on how points must be maintained, and to avoid networks losing power.

The new laws are part of a government finance plan aiming to speed up the installation of new charging points, with €100 million dedicated to installing 150kW points on national roads and in motorway service stations.

Matthieu Dischamps, France director of Portuguese charging point installation company Powerdot, said: “This aim of 100,000 charging points has whipped up the industry, and given us a clear target.”

He explained why the process appeared to be delayed saying: “Some administrative procedures are slowing down the deployment of some points over the past few months, such as safety issues in car parks, or the need to be connected to a strong power source.”

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