Left Unplugged

Leading the Charge for Electric Cars

Stromnetz nicht vorbereitet für Ausbreitung von E-Autos
Every e-car owner’s worst nightmare. Source: Jan Woitas/DPA.

By now, everyone agrees: the future of cars is electric. In recent weeks, even General Motors and Ford – the great American fossil fuel behemoths – have both announced major strategic shifts towards electric cars.

But there’s a chicken-egg problem. Without charging infrastructure, many drivers are reluctant to drive electric. Without a critical mass of electric cars, who will invest in a charging infrastructure? Norway is the poster child for electromobility, with every third new car now lithium battery-powered. But manufacturers in Oslo recently asked customers to hold off on electric car purchases, citing a serious shortage of public charging stations.

In Germany, the infrastructure bottleneck is even worse. Electric car charging currently means patchy coverage, competing technologies and major regional discrepancies.

“This will be a market worth billions,” says Frank Mühlon, head of e-charging for ABB, the Swiss technology conglomerate which is the global market leader in charging stations.

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