GERMANY. Fastned, E.ON, TotalEnergies and Autostrom win motorway charging tender in Germany

According to Autobahn GmbH, the three operators or three individual operators and the bidding consortium should have installed the charging points by 2026. A total of six nationwide lots were put out to tender, each containing 32 to 34 locations. Each site comprises 4, 6 or 8 fast-charging points – so in total, around 1,000 HPC points are to be created.

In the announcement on the awarding of the lots, however, Autobahn GmbH only states which four bidders were awarded the contracts. However, with six lots put out to tender, it is clear that some bidders have won more than one lot. However, the announcement does not reveal who these are. Fastned has stated in a separate announcement that it has been awarded one of the lots. “The 34 new sites are mainly located in the northern half of Germany so that the company can expand its network there,” it says. 400 kW charging points will be installed at these locations.

In its press release, the Autostrom consortium only mentions “several lots” for which it has been awarded the contract. It refers to “more than 300 charging points”, which suggests two lots. The leading consortium partners of the Autostrom consortium are the consulting, planning and project management company Drees & Sommer, which specialises in construction, real estate and infrastructure, Enercity AG from Hanover and the charging park and filling station operator Q1 Energie AG, based in Osnabrück. Other members of the consortium are the Pohl Group, Cologne-based RheinEnergie AG (which has a charging infrastructure subsidiary, TankE GmbH), SWN Stadtwerke Neumünster GmbH and the charging infrastructure service provider Westfalen Weser Ladeservice GmbH from Paderborn.

Within the Autostrom consortium – which refers to itself as ‘Konsortium Autostrom’, but is called ‘Bietergemeinschaft Autostrom Nord’ by Autobahn GmbH – Enercity will coordinate the commissioning of the new Autostrom charging points and also provide the 400 kW columns. Drees & Sommer is contributing its experience in planning and installation. Q1 Energie is providing its extensive experience in the billing and operation of decentralised supply infrastructures.

With the award of the contracts, the second part of the tender process for the German network has now also been completed. The contracts for the first part – the so-called regional lots – were already awarded in September 2023. E.ON, Fastned and TotalEnergies had already participated at that time – Fastned had been awarded the contracts for two lots, E.ON and TotalEnergies each for three. Fastned’s charging park in Düren, which opened shortly before Christmas, is still the only company to have put a German network site into operation.

Motorway lots were controversial for a long time

While only a “search area” was put out to tender for the regional lots, in which the operator itself had to find a suitable area for the charging park, the motorway lots were about specific locations – after all, the federal government already owns the land there via Autobahn GmbH. For the federal government, the lots were also a kind of win-win situation, as not only are urgently needed charging points created along the motorway, but the unmanaged rest areas are also upgraded. These sites are often only equipped with an unheated toilet block and the entire car park is usually not illuminated. The sites therefore do not have a sufficient power connection for four to eight fast-charging points, which is why the grid connection has yet to be built. All of this had led to criticism of the project in the run-up to the tendering process.

Linda Boll, Country Manager of Fastned Germany, is happy with the contract award and is pleased that Fastned will be building fast-charging parks directly on German motorways for the first time. However, she also sees room for improvement in the tender plans: “So far, there are no plans to build restaurants and shops at the rest areas or to upgrade the sanitary facilities, which would make the sites a lot more attractive. In our opinion, real competition can only be created with a comprehensive and contemporary range of services at the charging station. We hope to enter into dialogue with Autobahn GmbH and the Federal Ministry in this regard and ultimately be able to offer our customers the best possible charging experience.”

There is no mention of such details, which ultimately determine the attractiveness of the taxpayer-funded charging parks at unmanaged motorway service areas, in the press release from Autobahn GmbH. It states: “Autobahn GmbH ensures that all requirements regarding charging capacity, the number of charging points, accessibility, the payment system and availability are implemented. This creates confidence in the future of electromobility.”

The German Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing is also positive: “Individual mobility is a valuable asset in a free society. That’s why I’m delighted that the Deutschlandnetz is now being expanded to include fast-charging points on the nationwide motorway network,” said the FDP politician. “This will increase the range available to users and the charging network on motorways will become noticeably denser. Our goal is for the nearest fast-charging station to be just a few minutes away nationwide.”

Michael Güntner, Chairman of the Management Board of Autobahn GmbH, adds: “Drivers need to be able to charge reliably in order to cover long distances in an electric car. We want to make our contribution to this and help them to travel along the motorways without range anxiety. Autobahn GmbH is also underlining its commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility on the motorways.”

According to Burkhard Seizer, Overall Project Manager at Autostrom and Senior Manager at Drees & Sommer, the consortium was able to score points above all with the experience of its members: “We cover the entire spectrum when it comes to planning, constructing and operating fast-charging parks. We have prepared ourselves intensively and are ready to go. We are therefore delighted that the federal government has placed its trust in our many years of expertise and has awarded Autostrom the contract for several lots.”