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AFCA publishes update on sector inquiry into EV charging infrastructure: positive developments on e-mobility market

The Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) presents an update on its sector inquiry into EV charging infrastructure; the final report was published a year ago. The update gives an overview of the developments in the industry and describes new legislation from which both competition and consumers will benefit.

The AFCA presented the results of its sector inquiry into EV charging infrastructure in November 2022, also putting forward a number of recommendations (see press release of 22 November 2022).

The update on the sector inquiry explains the current state of the market and also compares the status quo with the previous year, with a particular focus on the changes in the market that go back to the AFCA’s recommendations.

Huge increase in number of charging stations

Since the publication of the sector inquiry in 2022, the E-Control charge point registry, in which all public charging stations are registered, has recorded a 40% increase in charging stations (from 6,188 in Q3 2022 to 8,677 in Q3 2023). Charge points have also increased by 40%, from 14,441 in the third quarter of 2022 to 19,895 charge points in the same quarter of 2023. The largest growth was recorded in Styria and Upper Austria, equating to a year-on-year increase of 70%. The other provinces have also expanded their network of charge points.

More transparency with Charge Point Data Regulation

To increase transparency for consumers, the necessary parameters need to be set first. The charge point registry is an important step in this regard. Operators of publicly accessible charge points are obliged by law to register the addresses of their charge points as a minimum. The entry into force of the Regulation by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), which obliges operators of publicly accessible charge points to report statistical and dynamic data, will enable E-Control to display actual availability at the individual charge points in its charge point registry.

To ensure the highest possible transparency for consumers, rates for charging on an ad hoc basis and roaming should also be integrated in future.

A highly useful tool in this context is E-Control’s charging tariff calculator. It allows consumers to compare the charging offers of different e-mobility providers. Using this web-based tool, they can obtain real-time information on which charge card they can use for charging their vehicles at the respective e-mobility provider’s own tariff. The integration of additional information is planned for the future.

Usage-based billing legally regulated

At the time of last year’s sector inquiry, there were no legal provisions requiring publicly accessible charge points to offer a choice of usage-based (by the kWh) or time-based billing. This was perceived as hindering competition by both market participants and consumers. A Regulation issued by the Federal Office of Metrology and Surveying (BEV), which entered into force on 1 June 2023, now provides the legal basis to ensure that users can opt for usage-based billing at all publicly accessible charge points. Major providers (such as Wien Energie) have already reacted to this requirement and are offering new tariff models based on billing according to actual use. The AFCA welcomes this development, which satisfies both legal security needs and consumer wishes.

EU Regulation brings more charge points

The European Regulation on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, which entered into force on 12 October 2023, creates many new benefits for consumers and market participants. It should make the rates at publicly accessible charge points more transparent, for example, and offer low-threshold payment options. In addition, a publicly accessible EV charging infrastructure with a power output of 1.3 kW for each registered electric vehicle should be provided in every Member State.

Also, from 2025 onwards, public (fast) charging stations with a minimum output of 150 kW will have to be installed every 60 km along the routes of the Trans-European Transport Network.

Federal grants

The AFCA has recommended providing grants for charging stations and charge points in order to promote the expansion of infrastructure and local competition. The BMK has acted on this recommendation by launching the “LADIN - Ladeinfrastruktur” project to boost the expansion of (fast) EV charging infrastructure in less-developed areas. Furthermore, the volume of grants under the E-Mobility Campaign has been steadily increased over the past few years. While EUR 71 million had been earmarked for 2022, this figure had risen to EUR 95 million for 2023 at federal level.

The AFCA will continue to monitor the developments in the market.

Update on sector inquiry into EV charging infrastructure (in German)