Cars | 01 December 2015

5 questions for a Renault Expert in EV infrastructures

At Renault we are convinced that in only two letters we have the solution in the automotive industry to fight climate change: EV (electric vehicle). Since a couple of years a great progress has been made in the EV domain and today's EV range perfectly responds to the need of most car users. Still a certain number of questions remains regarding the infrastructure and investment needed when switching for an EV. To answer to most frequently asked questions we have met with Thomas Orsini, head of business development for electric vehicles at Renault.
by Groupe Renault
Thomas Orsini, head of business development for electric vehicles at Renault
We hear a lot about recharging infrastructure being vital to speed up the introduction of electric vehicles. But in practical terms, what are motorists’ real needs and uses in this respect?

Thomas Orsini – We have to distinguish between two types of recharging: the main recharging, i.e. the one done every day or almost every day at the same charging point – which may be at the motorist’s home, place of work, or in the street – and which now accounts for 95% of all recharges. And occasional recharges, which top up the main recharging when longer journeys than usual are made, or if something unexpected happens, in which case when the battery can be topped up at a recharging point open to the general public.

The main recharging is usually done at a private point or socket: at home, making it like a home-based service station. Even so, in 10% of cases, motorists say their main recharging point is at their place of work or in the street. That proportion is liable to grow as companies and city authorities become better equipped, offering motorists an alternative to installing a recharging point at home.

In addition to main recharging, electric vehicle users carry out complementary or “occasional” recharges at points open to the public. These may be either to make the motorist feel more secure by keeping the battery more highly charged throughout the day, or to cope with the occasional need for a longer journey than usual.

The deployment of public charging points plays a key role in helping the electric vehicle to expand. The more charging points motorists see, the more reassured they will feel. Moreover, these points will extend the vehicles’ range, allowing drivers, for example, to go away for the weekend 300 kilometres from home, or as a standby in case they have simply forgotten to plug their vehicle into the charger overnight at home.


So we have understood that the great majority of electric car users recharge their vehicle at home. How much does installing one’s own private infrastructure cost?

T. O. – In most cases it’s a simple and fairly inexpensive procedure. Moreover, many European countries offer financial assistance.

In France, for instance, Renault contributes €500 to the installation, which covers most of the cost, and offers a turn-key installation. In addition, the French state has introduced a tax credit that covers up to 30% of the cost, excluding labour charges.

In the United Kingdom, the government pays the full cost of installing a private recharging point. In Italy and Spain, a large part of the cost is paid for by electric network operators.

And if motorists do not have recharging facilities at home, can they still opt for an electric vehicle?

T. O. – That is not the simplest solution, but it is still possible. In some countries, such as the Netherlands and Portugal, 70% of drivers do not have their own parking space (either privately owned or in an apartment block car park), so they park in the street.

In such cases, a main recharge is made easier by the installation of public recharging points in residential areas, intended for recharging electric vehicles at night. In five big cities in the Netherlands, as soon as a customer buys an electric car, they can apply to the municipal authority to install a public recharging point close to their home.


Generally speaking, how fast is the installation of public recharging facilities taking place in Europe and worldwide?

T. O. – Since 2013 the number of public points has increased every year by between 30% and 60%, in Europe and the rest of the world. In 2014 there were more than 100,000 public recharging points in the world – a rise of 60% compared to 2013. In Europe we have to reach 60,000 points by the end of the year. And that figure should be doubled over the next two years.

In France there are now about 10,000 recharging points, spread over 2,700 centres. The launch of numerous recharging infrastructure projects makes it possible to envisage dense coverage of the country in the very short term, with the number of points doubling by the end of 2016. This network includes both points recharging at “normal” power rates in urban areas and faster recharging facilities on main roads.

On a European level, we are witnessing the development of “green corridors” like those in the RTE-T (Trans-European Transport Networks) programme, in which Renault is taking part. This is based on the installation of rapid recharging points along motorways.

What are the different types of public recharging point, and what are they used for?

T. O. – Public recharging points are intended to respond to specific needs depending on where they are installed. The power available at each point is adapted to the time the vehicle will be parked there. The four main types are 43kW for rapid recharging that fully recharges the battery in 30 minutes on motorways or at fuel stations, 22kW in supermarket car parks, allowing an average shopping time of 50 minutes, 11kW in cinema car parks for at least two hours, and 3kW or 7kW at airport and railway station car parks, etc.

Thanks Thomas Orsini !


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