As reported in Reuters, the progress of building car charging stations across France has not been to automaker Renault’s preferred pace, so the company decided to pick up the slack and fund of some on its own to fill in the gaps.
In a collaborative move with its Japanese affiliate Nissan (Renault has a 43% ownership of the company), Renault is planning on handing out charging stations for installation in public places across the country.
“It is not our job to install chargers, but somebody has to kickstart the market…this cannot be a long-term policy,” Renault’s head of its electric vehicle program Thierry Koskas stated. The plan is to give away 1,000 fast chargers that cost about $6,300 each mostly in France. The free chargers will go to parking lots, supermarkets and other high-visibility places under private ownership.
France (which incidentally has a 15% stake in Renault) is already onboard with building upwards of 75,000 charging stations by 2015, but most of Western Europe’s 15,000 charging stations are in Germany and Holland with a scant 2,000 in France.
It’s because of the lack of French EV infrastructure that is causing Renault's trepidation with the launch date of its EV Zoe later this year. Its existing EV models, the Fluence and Kangoo, are not selling as well as the automaker would like. As analyst Tim Urquhart of IHS Automotive stated, “The relatively small numbers are explainable but still not comfortable viewing for Nissan and Renault…high prices and low levels of infrastructure pose a big stumbling block.”