Renault plans to build a network of fast charging stations for electric cars along motorways across Europe, as the automotive industry accelerates its shift away from combustion engine vehicles.
The French carmaker's e-mobility services unit, Mobilize, said on Monday it would open 200 fast charging stations by mid-2024 across France, Belgium, Italy, and Spain.
"Eventually, drivers of electric vehicles will be able to travel from Hamburg to Seville with complete peace of mind," Mobilize said in a statement.
Rolling out an adequate charging infrastructure is one of the main challenges faced by producers of EVs, as batteries generally offer less driving radius than fuel tanks and take much longer to recharge. This generates what is known as "range anxiety" among prospective EV buyers hesitant to make the switch.
Charging stations open to all EVs, with lounges and kids' areas
The new fast charging stations will be open to all-electric vehicles (EVs) - not just Renault models - and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The stations will be installed at Renault dealerships located close to motorway exits, with dedicated spaces where drivers can rest during the average half-hour charging period.
They will be accessible around the clock and offer a lounge, playing corners for children and refreshments.
To avoid installing new power grid infrastructure, Mobilize said it would use a stationary storage system the size of a small container capable of charging up to six regular cars of any make at the same time.
"This will allow us to charge these containers very gently, without disrupting the power grid," said Nicolas Schottey, head of Mobilize Power Solutions.
The first will open in a few months in southern France, to reach a total of 90 nationwide - or one ultra-fast station every 150 km on France’s main roads, Mobilize said.
It added it was in advanced talks with potential partners to finance the network.
Trying to compete with Tesla
Renault, whose share price value has declined almost 70 per cent since early 2018, is far from being a leader in the European electric vehicles market.
But the company is pushing ahead with plans to split its EV and combustion engine businesses in a bid to compete with rivals such as newcomer Tesla and German giant Volkswagen in the race to electric driving.
Tesla has been rolling out high-performance superchargers for years and has a global network of about 30,000 fast chargers that it says can give a 200 km boost in 15 minutes.
Volkswagen expects its network of fast chargers to nearly quadruple to about 45,000 by 2025, with 18,000 EV pumps in Europe, 17,000 in China, and 10,000 in North America.