Can public electric vehicle corridors drive faster EV adoption? - Photo by JUICE on UnsplashThe first corridors for electric vehicles are starting to open up across Europe. Rolf Bienert, Managing Director and Technical Director at industry body OpenADR Alliance, looks at what EV corridors are and whether they can deliver on their promises of ultra-fast charging.

Have you purchased an electric vehicle (EV) yet?

According to figures by EVvolumes.com, global sales of EVs are strong. 10.5 million were delivered in 2022, up 55% on 2021. However, sales in Europe are slowing. They are only 15% up on 2021 due to a combination of factors, not least component shortages and the war in Ukraine. Sales in the US and Canada are also holding their own. They are up 48% year on year, while China has not just defied the odds of Covid lockdowns but blown it out of the water to see a huge increase of 82% year on year.

But despite the impressive growth figures, not everyone has bought into the EV revolution. Ask a random number of people why not, and it will likely be down to two main reasons – cost and what’s known as ‘range anxiety’. That’s the fear of running out of power because of the distance between charging stations.

So, could EV corridors be the answer? This interesting concept was pioneered by Tesla in the US with its proprietary charging network designed for Tesla owners.

Recent news suggests that Tesla will open up its extensive charging infrastructure to other manufacturers’ EVs. Tesla chargers are known as Superchargers, the biggest, best and mostly in the best locations. Importantly, they offer reliability, which is critical when travelling long distances.

Perhaps this ‘democratising’ of reliable EV charging can help change people’s minds and encourage them to buy in and plug in?

The US is one of the biggest EV charging markets and is well-funded for future development. The Biden Administration announced more than 7 billion USD in funding for the country’s charging infrastructure as part of its bipartisan infrastructure law passed in 2021. Projects will focus on electrification for heavily trafficked domestic corridors. It will also focus on freight corridors as part of its plans to reduce emissions from these routes.

Europe’s first public charging corridors

But in Europe, the idea of EV corridors is also attracting attention from some of the biggest names in the business. bp pulse, the electric charging division of bp, announced in January that it is building Europe’s first public charging corridor for medium and heavy-duty electric trucks.

Six e-truck charging stations with ultra-fast 300kw charge points have been launched along a 600km stretch of the Rhine-Alpine corridor across Germany. This is no coincidence. It is one of Europe’s busiest road freight routes, connecting ports in the North Sea with those in the South in Italy. The entire network of roads totals 1,300km. Two additional locations are set to open to complete the corridor.

Having dedicated e-truck stops like this, complete with rest facilities, makes sense. It provides convenient places for drivers to take mandatory rest breaks and grab food and a hot shower. But looking at the bigger picture, it’s all part of the important journey towards decarbonising freight (and passenger) transportation.

With ultra-fast charging – according to bp, each 300kw charger can charge more than 20 e-trucks per day – this will surely boost the e-truck industry. The e-truck market is relatively small right now, especially when compared to cars. The lack of a fast-charging infrastructure has the potential to hold back electrification.

We could also see a ripple effect from this sort of initiative with more dedicated public EV charge stops being developed, such as Shell Recharge Solutions. It offers more than 20,000 public EV charging points across the UK and over 300,000 across Europe.

Potential for growth

The potential is to create a series of EV corridors – or perhaps we should call them ‘EV superhighways’ – criss-crossing Europe and beyond.

Ultra-fast public charging in key locations and across key routes that work in tandem with millions of charge points at homes, workplaces, and destinations will create an infrastructure that is fit for purpose. It will meet the needs of all electric vehicle users – from freight operators to passenger cars.

This potential for growth offers huge opportunities for many parties, not just electric vehicle manufacturers and those operating fuel and rest stops.

As an industry alliance, the OpenADR Alliance has seen a growing number of companies operating as part of the wider EV ecosystem joining our ranks. These range from automotive manufacturers like Ford Motor Company, to some 40+ of those developing EV charging management systems, software and tools. Through the promotion and adoption of OpenADR standards as part of a robust and reliable EV charging infrastructure, I believe we can play an important role as the global market continues to open up.

The rollout of fast-charging EV corridors cannot come quickly enough. Right now, we are in the early stages where anything is possible, and there is no shortage of innovation as companies collaborate to solve problems and create solutions.

The scale of these efforts cannot be underestimated.


openADRThe OpenADR Alliance, a non-profit corporation created to foster the development, adoption, and compliance of OpenADR and related standards, helps utilities manage the growing pool of distributed energy resources, which includes renewable energy, energy storage, demand response and electric vehicle charging. The OpenADR standard supports communications to all DER resources to manage changes in load shape, energy inputs and power characteristics of DER assets. The recently added EcoPort standard additionally enables smart appliances to be connected. More information can be found at http://www.openadr.org/.

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