Fastned used to grow just a little faster than the BEV fleet on the road. That trend was broken with the coronavirus pandemic. Vehicle growth in 2020 did not translate into more charging compared to Q4 2019 or January/February 2020 pre-corona. That is disappointing. This development is no fault of Fastned, but a lot less money entered the company’s coffers because of the lockdown.
Fastned was very optimistic during the presentation of the annual report for 2019 in late March 2020. That came just after the huge spike in BEV sales in December 2019, when pure electric vehicles reached 53% market share in the Netherlands. All of those new vehicles needed to charge, which resulted in many stations achieving solid black revenue and profits in early 2020. Corona started to rear its ugly head, but the impact was not clear yet. After the dip in Q2, though, it looks like Fastned is back on the growth path envisioned in March. It is just half a year delayed.
The good news is that the recent lockdown we entered two weeks ago did not show in the revenue stream. Probably because all traffic is now more essential and less susceptible to the lockdown measures. There is also a transition from public transport to traveling by car. With the next two cold and rainy quarters, when there is more need for charging, and with the expected continuation of BEV fleet growth, I expect growth of revenue will again follow the growth in the BEV fleet. Only, now it will be on a lower level.
The cash position improved due to €13 million raised in bonds and €2.7 million in bonds converted into stock. This is expected to cover the company’s cash needs until 2022.
Fastned put 7 new stations online in Q3 and plans to open an additional 10 stations in Q4. There are now 5 stations in the Newcastle–Sunderland region in the UK, and the first stations in Belgium and Switzerland will open in Q4. The opening of its 17th station, together with Tesla, in Germany got a lot of media attention. The international expansion is happening.
The collaboration with Tesla was for just this project, but it can be repeated when there are good opportunities. It needs to be done at locations with enough traffic to warrant large stations.
New stations along the Dutch border increase the practical range for the Dutch customers into parts of Germany and Belgium.
The 16 Mr. Green charging stations FastNed acquired in July are being replaced by real Fastned stations. I paid some a visit, but they did not look inviting to charge at. Replacing them is a good decision. It only requires the long road through the permitting institutions to get all the needed permits. Some patience is needed. The locations are among the most desirable in the Netherlands. They will contribute significantly when they reopen as Fastned stations.
The installation of 175kW/350kW chargers at existing stations is an ongoing project. It is a mix of expanding the stations and replacing 50kW chargers. The 50kW chargers are being reused as urban chargers, often at Albert Heijn (Dutch grocery chain) parking lots.