Yesterday, we published a new report on electric vehicle sales in France. Some commenters quickly complained about EV charging options in France (something we are quite familiar with due to a few road trips through the country). Then, a few hours ago, another commenter, Pitounet, directed us to some great recent news out of France on this topic.
Clearly, you’ve already seen the title and know what the news is — the oil & gas giant Total, which has gas (aka petrol) and diesel stations in place across Europe, is planning to add ultrafast EV chargers at 300 stations across France.
The plan is to have all 300 ultrafast charging stations installed by the end of 2022. They will each have a power capacity of 175 kW.
Pitounet added some apt comments on the plan: “This is massive. I think that will be a game changer. Total is everywhere and their stations are always well placed. I don’t know how much faith we can put in Total realizing this project in time, but I think they realize they need it to keep their customers in highway stations where they sell foods and other goodies.” Indeed, looking at the plugin vehicle share of auto sales in France these days, the writing is on the gas station bathroom wall.
Total currently has 20,000 charging points installed across 5 countries (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Germany), but those are primarily slower chargers. Overall, the company does intend to get this number up to 150,000 by 2025.
“The idea is to have a perfectly complementary network on the Total network with a station every 150 kilometers to meet the long-distance needs of users,” says Stéphane Chambon, Director of Public Affairs and Strategic Accounts at Total Marketing France, says (translation from French courtesy of Google). “300 will be deployed along the national road network, including motorways, and the rest in urban areas where we will develop charging hubs.”
The charging station is also more adequate and future-focused on a station level than some I’ve seen. They are mostly installed 6–8 charging ports at a location right now, but they’ve also worked in the potential to grow those numbers as demand grows. What else should we expect from a true fueling station operator?
“All this will be harmonized and steered by a single platform with a European approach. The entire network has been combed through and the equipable stations have all been identified. We are in the planning phase of the work with a ramp-up plan until 2022,” another PR executive, Xavier Bourat, stated.
Payment will be possible through a simple QR code. The current payment system is pay-per-minute because that’s what regulations require right now, but the goal is to shift to a pay-per-kWh model.
While Total is indeed an oil & gas company, it pops up on CleanTechnica from time to time because of its long involvement in the solar industry, most notably through ownership of SunPower, but not only. Also, it bought London’s largest EV charging network in late 2020. The network, Source London, includes more than 1,600 charge points. Overall, it seems like the leadership at Total is one of the most aware or open to the fact that the future is zero-emissions tech, from solar panels to charging stations. For comparison, imagine Exxon buying the largest EV charging network in New York City or San Francisco.
Demonstrating Total’s complete-picture view of this, it has also been keen to power charging stations with renewable energy. “Total Gas & Power Limited, another subsidiary of Total, will supply the Source London network with 100% renewable electricity for the charging stations. Reportedly, Source London users will see no difference in service — initially, at least,” we reported in October.
Of course, in general, European oil & gas majors have been recognizing the cleantech shift underway and getting into the game. As I wrote with regards to that Total acquisition, “There’s now a pattern of oil and other energy giants acquiring or investing in EV charging companies. A few years ago, Shell bought NewMotion, BP bought the UK’s largest charging network (Chargemaster) in 2018, and Engie acquired EVBox, two of the most notable investments in the sector.”
What EV charging announcement is next from an oil & gas giant?
What do you think of Total’s plans in the EV charging space?