Fast-charging law on the road

After the Bundestag voted in favour of the draft law on the provision of nationwide fast-charging infrastructure for pure battery electric vehicles (Fast Charging Act - SchnellLG) on 20.05.2021, the draft has now also passed the Bundesrat.

This clears the way for tenders for fast-charging stations at a total of 1,000 locations, which are already planned to start this summer. At these locations, fast charging points with a charging capacity of at least 150 kW each are to be built nationwide by 2023 at an estimated cost of 1.9 billion euros.

What is new?

Compared to the government's draft (see the summary here, in German), the bill has been amended in a number of important points:

  • First of all, the requirement of "nationwide provision of fast-charging infrastructure in line with demand" has been specified. Sufficient area coverage shall be achieved when a charging point can be accessed nationwide "without significant detours" (§ 2 No. 8 SchnellLG). The explanatory memorandum describes this being the case if a fast-charging point can be reached in about 10 minutes. This corresponds to a distance corridor of 15 to 30 km in long-distance traffic (BT-Drs. 19/29840, p. 9).

    Demand shall be met if the waiting time until the start of the charging process is not unreasonable (§ 2 no. 9 SchnellLG), which according to the explanatory memorandum is the case with a waiting time of no more than five minutes, and no more than 15 minutes during peak and holiday periods.

  • With regard to the locations to be considered, the approach of the framework conditions to be specified by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (“BMVI”) in an ordinance is extended to include inner-city locations, at least for suburban and rural areas (§ 3 (4) sentence 5 SchnellLG). The ministry also has to give clear specifications for the timing and public usability of the respective charging points to the contractors.

    Before the BMVI develops the technical, economic and legal framework conditions for the provision of services in more detail, it must present a concept. This must contain the methodological basis and the criteria for determining the need for fast charging locations, the minimum requirements for the framework conditions and the principles according to which the interests of the existing infrastructure providers are taken into account.

  • Finally, the regulation on the formation of lots was adapted to the effect that at least 18 (instead of 10) regional lots must now be formed. In addition, in order to take into account the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises in accordance with § 97 (4) Act Against Restraints of Competition (“Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen, GWB”), at least one smaller lot is to be formed in each region in relation to the other lots (§ 4 (1) and (2) SchnellLG).

What happens next?

After the decision of the Bundesrat and pending signature by the Federal President, the Act will enter into force on the day after its promulgation in the Federal Law Gazette. The BMVI ordinance specifying the tender conditions and requirements for the charging infrastructure is expected soon in view of the ambitious timetable.

Companies interested in tendering are advised to keep an eye on the possibility of forming bidding consortiums now and on the federal tender portals and the Official Journal of the EU after the law comes into force.

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