As the number of plug-in cars on the roads rises, there’s an ever-increasing demand for public electric car charging infrastructure, especially in the form of reliable, high-power quick charging along major freeways and arterial inter-city routes.
To help build that infrastructure and encourage the adoption of plug-in vehicles, governments around the world have offered generous incentives ranging from grants to tax breaks and even loans for companies willing to build, install and operate public charging networks for electric cars. While those networks may flourish for a while, most falter as soon as public funds have run out, unable to codify a sustainable business model on which their networks can grow.
Many charging networks falter as soon as public funds have run out, unable to codify a sustainable business model on which their networks can grow. Fastned has a solution.
Of the charging networks which fold, most are driven out of business by the disparity between high everyday running costs and a relatively low income from charging customers to charge their cars. Those who put their prices up too high simply find users refuse to use the network at all, put off by fees that are seen as being an order of magnitude higher than domestic electricity prices for the same amount of power.
But now one Dutch company thinks it may have cracked the problem of keeping its network growing while keeping prices down and reliability high: offering shareholders a chance to charge for free on its network for life.
Enter Fastned, an Amsterdam-based company with plans to dramatically expand the number of rapid charging stations it operates throughout Europe by offering investors the chance to buy shares in the company in exchange for free charging for the company’s existence.
Unlike most charging providers, Fastned focuses exclusively on rapid charging provision by installing multiple-standard charging stations with on-site redundancy (multiple charging stations) in each location it serves. Rather than simply installing a charging station attached to a convenient business or parking lot, Fastned charging sites are built very much like a gas station, with a photovoltaic solar panel canopy covering multiple charging stations arranged to allow drive-thru operation.
This not only makes it simple for customers to stop at an appropriate place to allow the charge cable to reach their vehicle’s charge port, but avoids any nasty snarls when all the charging stations are already in use.
In addition, each charging station is powered entirely by renewable energy sources, and each site offers free WiFi connectivity, essential to keep drivers — and their passengers — entertained while their car charges.
Customers can choose from one of three different membership options: a pay-as-you-go system costing €0.83 per kilowatt-hour consumed; a standard monthly tariff costing €12 per month for access plus €0.35 per kilowatt-hour consumed; or an all-you-can-eat plan for €100 per month with unlimited free charging.
At the moment, Fastned has 31 locations operational throughout Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Holland, but now it plans a massive expansion throughout other electric car-loving european countries.
To fund that, its Founders Club was born. While shares in Fastned are currently being offered at a price of €10 each, Fastned’s Founders Club is an exclusive club open only to those who have purchased more than 2,500 shares in the company. Or if you prefer, investors who have stumped up €25,000 ($27,500) to support the company.
Currently, Fastned says there are already 17 members of the Founders Club, which by our reckoning means that the company has already raised more than €425,000 ($462,000) through this innovative share scheme.
“Our goal is similar to mobile telephony — to create a national network of fast chargers, which allows electric cars to go anywhere with peace of mind,” said Michiel Langezaal, CEO and co-founder of Fasned. “Anyone who invests a substantial amount today becomes co-owner of the infrastructure of the future and can use it free, forever.”
While we applaud the creativity used to offer investors the chance to become owners of the Fastned network in exchange for at least €25,000 of their hard-earned cash in exchange for free charging for life, we’re doubtful that particular incentive will be of importance to anyone with the funds to actually stump up that kind of cash.
To put it bluntly, if you’ve got €25,00 to invest in a rapid charging network, the chances are you already own a Tesla Model S — which comes with Tesla’s lifetime access to its own proprietary network of Supercharger stations all over the world.
In other words, dividends at some point in the future, rather than free charging for life — is the real draw.
Would you want to invest in a public charging network? What would you expect in return?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
DISCLAIMER: Transport Evolved is not affiliated with or connected to any financial institution or financial advisor. The above article does not constitute financial advise and should not be used to make any investment decisions. Always consult a licensed financial advisor before making any long-term investments.
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