Today’s EV Charging Experience - What's Changed?
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Charging is the Main Concern Today
The main questions customers had when purchasing electric cars were about price and driving range. However, this clearly has changed. The number-one concern today is about adequate charging infrastructure. While we know that the current reach of new electric vehicles is more than enough for our daily commute, the concerns of mainly new EV drivers is about what to do on a long distance trip or how to charge at charging stations that they haven’t frequented before.

Additionally, we need to cater for these EV drivers that don’t have access to their own charger at home or at work. With a high percentage of approximately 80 percent of all charging being done at home or work, there is still a considerable amount of work to do to cater for all charging ‘on the road’. Vast networks of publicly accessible chargers will need to be built and put into operation in a short time frame to keep pace with the rapidly growing interest in electric vehicles.

Many of our readers have seen my long distance reports - such as my recent trip to Oslo. Driving a good 1,800 kilometers one-way to the Norwegian capital in cold and wet November conditions didn’t prove to be a massive problem. That is thanks to Tesla’s supercharger infrastructure, providing us with fast chargers every few hundred kilometers, from South Germany through Denmark and Sweden up to Norway itself. Too easy.

While charging was not the problem, the user experience around the charging process itself was certainly not 5-star, more of a 2-star experience. Reason enough to have a closer look at some of the approaches of European entrepreneurs that want to change that. The MOTION team will explore what needs to be done in order to make charging a lifestyle experience.

Starting with clean toilets and some good food, we want to discover the offerings in places across Europe that do not stop here. What does it take, to help us enjoy charging, no matter whether this is on a long distance trip or whether this becomes a weekly routine? MOTION takes a closer look - and we will do this secretly, unidentified...

Sign of the times: EV Charging is the center of attention at the Zusmarshausen stop. © Michael Brecht

My Visit in Bavaria Zusmarshausen - Fast Charging Deluxe
First stop: Zusmarshausen. Zusmars… what? Well the small capital with its 6,500 inhabitants is home of Europe’s currently largest charging park. Conveniently located between Stuttgart and Munich, or Ulm and Augsburg along the Autobahn A8, the Innovation Parc of automotive supplier Sortimo hosts 72 different chargers.

Driving off the Autobahn and approaching the nearby roundabout, the new complex cannot be overseen. The futuristic-looking building looks a little like an unidentified flying object. Gathered under the roof of which are six giant charging mushrooms, each with several power trunks. This largest charging park in Europe is fed with green electricity from renewable sources, like a nearby wind park and from lots of solar installations.

Interesting fact here: The chargers are not relegated to the periphery of service stations, as is often the case. Almost as if they were something exotic. Here in Zusmarshausen they are the center of attention. There is plenty of space and greenery around the 72 charging points on the 35,000 square meter site, situated a mere 200 meters away from the Sortimo headquarter.

Use Cases for Charging in Zusmarshausen
The 72 charging stations vary in terms of speed and resulting costs for the charge. Power levels can be chosen from 35 to 280 kW. Charging times are between 15 and 45 minutes, and the payment process is uncomplicated too, as it can be made very simply without cash via an app or at a terminal that is accessible 24 hours a day. Tesla drivers find 12 superchargers, nicely located in the center of the park, and not tucked back behind other buildings.

So which typical use-cases does the Innovationspark cater for? In case you’d like to charge your car quickly, you can ideally limit your stay to a quarter of an hour. Those who want to get away more cheaply and bring more time with them, i.e. up to an hour or more, can visit a local bakery and restaurant in the building and enjoy the view of nature from the terrace while the children test the playground. Wireless LAN, a shop, several corners that can be used for work while sipping a cup of coffee. This all sounds familiar? Well, how about this:

The Swabian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK Akademie Schwaben) offers further and advanced training courses on the following topics for all interested parties:

-Energy efficiency

There is an Amazon Hub Locker for those that like to collect their deliveries here. Various empowered public transport lines are connected, or you simply use e-bikes that are available (if the snow doesn’t hit you, like it hit me while visiting).

All in all, the cleanliness, the fast charging options and its great accessibility make this place a highlight of my long distance charging experience. Watch out for my next visit to another charging park, it’ll happen soon.

Photos courtesy of Michael Brecht.