Charging stations for e-cars must allow card payments

Berlin (dpa) – Drivers of electric cars will soon be able to pay more often by card when refueling at the charging station. From July 2023 readers for common debit or credit cards must be installed in all new charging points.

The Federal Council approved a corresponding ordinance by the federal government on Friday. Older charging stations do not have to be converted. From the perspective of the automotive industry, the new obligation is a step backwards.

How to pay previously

Currently there is for Paying at charging stations is not a uniform system. There are more than 46 000 public pillars, but hundreds of operators, contract models and tariffs. Charging works partly via customer cards, partly via apps. Sometimes a basic fee is paid monthly, sometimes only for each charging process. As a rule, drivers have to go to certain charging stations and cannot spontaneously use any one on their way.

The arguments for card payment

The federal and state governments want to make charging electric cars easier and more independent. If you can pay with your debit or credit card anywhere, it could be easier to find charging points on the fly. The banking industry, cities, municipalities and districts are also in favor. Consumers must be able to pay at every charging station with the card they have in their wallet, according to the German Savings Banks and Giro Association. The ADAC praises the decision as a “victory for the consumer”.

The proponents of the card readers argue that card payments are internationally widespread and secure. This would make it easier for holidaymakers to charge their e-cars in Germany. In addition, you can also pay contactlessly at the terminals, for example with your smartphone – just like at the supermarket checkout. In contrast to app solutions, no registration with sensitive data is necessary.

Consumers must have the security of being able to charge anytime and anywhere without a contract, emphasizes the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations. Relying on digital payment solutions alone excludes many. “Consumers want to be able to pay for electricity for their electric car as easily and conveniently with their card as they do today with their fuel bill at the gas station,” says Karl-Peter Schackmann-Fallis, the current head of the German credit industry. Now all eyes are on Brussels, where a decision is also pending. “In the interests of consumers, Europe’s legislators must also make it possible to pay with credit and giro cards at the e-charging stations”, demands Schackmann-Fallis.

The counter arguments of the car and energy industry

The President of the VDA Auto Industry Association, Hildegard Müller, considers the Federal Council’s decision to be a step backwards. EC card terminals mean additional costs for users, the pace of innovation will be slowed down, and digital payment service providers will be excluded in favor of outdated business models.

Instead, the automotive industry relies on digital solutions, such as apps or mobile providers such as PayPal. Volkswagen explains that currently more than 90 percent of charging processes are paid for without credit or debit cards. “Even ad-hoc charging processes in which customers spontaneously go to the charging station can be conveniently processed using a smartphone app or website.” Therefore, mandatory card readers are unnecessary. BMW also emphasizes that for spontaneous charging it is important not to rely on card readers unilaterally.

The head of the VKU municipal utilities association, Ingbert Liebing, criticizes the federal and state governments with their decision to expand electromobility the brake. “It would have been much more efficient to consistently rely on cost-effective, digital and mobile solutions.” The additional requirements made the expansion of the charging infrastructure more expensive and difficult. In addition, it could be that all requirements would soon become obsolete due to the decision at EU level.

And the drivers?

Many drivers who drive an e-car have adjusted to the fact that several cards or apps are necessary in order to be able to charge anywhere. Apps also show in real time which charging stations in the area are currently free. Many providers also offer roaming options, so that you can charge at thousands of stations with a card from a large chain of petrol stations or from an energy supplier, for example. Many drivers tend to be annoyed by defective charging stations that have not been repaired for weeks. They also want illegal parkers to be towed away more consistently at loading bays.

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