VDA, BDEW and ZVEI: Pave the way for simple digital charging in Germany

    Berlin, May 05, 2021

    The industry associations VDA, BDEW and ZVEI have issued a joint appeal with criticism of the renewed discussion of previously agreed payment solutions at charging pillars for electric vehicles. This threatens to cause further delays in the already sluggish installation of charging points, and unnecessary increases in the costs of using them. The three associations call on the German Government to keep to the published plan with alternative payment methods and to swiftly and unbureaucratically push forward expansion of the charging infrastructure in Germany.

    Lost opportunity!

    E-cars are booming in Germany and the Federal Government is hampering the creation of charging pillars by requiring antiquated payment methods, according to a joint appeal by the heads of the industry associations VDA, BDEW and ZVEI.

    Sometimes progress looks desperate. The German Government is rightly spending billions of euros on achieving the climate protection targets, and promotes the growth of electric mobility. It provides incentives for purchasing e-cars, and support for private charging stations, for commercial charging stations and for those on employers’ premises or in public areas. All of this is tax revenue that should be used efficiently. It should all be supported by the most digital systems possible – because digitization is the other decisive factor driving the shift to climate neutrality in industry and transport, which we want to achieve by 2050 at the latest and which is essential if we are to remain internationally competitive.

    Electric mobility and digitization: the two major trends meet when a payment is made at a charging pillar. Charging must be simple everywhere, and payment must be simple, mobile and digital everywhere. But right here, the Government is now planning a system that would set expansion of the charging network back by years and make it much more expensive.

    The German Government wishes to prescribe a rigid payment system for each individual charging pillar. The companies want flexible, good value solutions that can be realized quickly, in the customers’ interest. The Government’s proposal means that every charging pillar must have a card reader. This will make most new pillars more expensive because a reader will be added, which will push up the price that customers have to pay for charging. But most of all, the requirement for card readers will delay the further expansion of public charging stations. Installing card readers is problematic: many models still have to be inspected under the calibration regulations and approved. This process took several years last time. And it’s not going to be much quicker this time round.

    This amounts to a lot of effort for all concerned, with very little benefit because the customers don’t even need it. They already use sufficient modern alternatives, which are generally already digital – most customers don’t pay at the charging pillars, and instead around 90 percent pay via direct contracts. The remaining 10 percent represent what is called “spontaneous charging” – which is an important component in charging and electric mobility. But why does a payment option have to be provided for this, which needs a card reader to be installed?

    The rapid development of mobile payment systems makes it clear that they have grown hugely in recent years and present suitable payment options for today and tomorrow. They are user-friendly, forward-looking and can connect with European systems. What is more, the number of charging pillars can be rapidly increased because nothing else has to be installed, nothing else has to be calibrated, and nothing else has to be approved. And today’s motorists always have their cell phones with them.

    Actually, all the stakeholders had already agreed long ago on this model for swift introduction of simple payments. But now the common position has been eliminated through the back door and replaced with a great amount of outdated bureaucracy: calibrated card readers with an official certificate and inspection stamp are now required across the board. The German Government is thus preventing the potentials of digitization from being utilized. It is obligating everyone to use technologies that are no longer necessary, and fails to recognize that the market and the state of the art have long since left policies behind. For users the proposed procedure means a considerable delay in introducing simple payments, and for the operators it makes everything very complicated.

    To give electric mobility an additional boost, it is important that the German Government keeps to the published plan with mobile payment methods. A modern, digital charging network does not need mandatory reading devices. The approvals required under the calibration regulations will not be issued until 2023. That does not motivate the operators to set up more charging pillars at top speed. But we need them in order to bolster the desired ramp-up of electric mobility.

    All over Europe digital payment systems are taking hold, and card readers will become vastly less important during the next few years. The German Government wishes to keep this technology alive in Germany, precisely where the future should be visible: at charging pillars for electric cars – which brings high costs. We cannot see why the Federal Government has taken up such a complicated and slow proposal, given that charging pillars with card terminals will remain an available option on the market. In the interests of all drivers of e-cars, we want to see the way paved for digital, mobile and simple charging in Germany.



    VDA – German Association of the Automotive Industry

    Moritz Krause


    +49 175 3260991


    BDEW – German Association of Energy and Water Industries

    Birgit Heinrich


    +49 30 300199-1170


    ZVEI – German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association.

    Thorsten Meier


    +49 69 6302-425