ABB Group's 'Fastned' fast charging stationsEnlarge Photo
With the rate at which automakers are releasing new plug-in vehicles, the "chicken and egg" issue of whether cars or public charging points or the cars should debut first is much less of an issue than it was just two or three years ago.
Even so, abundant public charging can't hurt--and any country which provides ample fast charging will inevitably cultivate increased electric car ownership.
The Netherlands is one of those countries. It's soon to have the world's largest electric vehicle fast charging network, courtesy of power and utility company ABB.
By the time the network of highway-located 'Fastned' fast charging stations is complete, more than 245 stations will be spread throughout the country.
The goal is to have a fast charger within 30 miles of all the country's 16.7 million inhabitants--and that's fast chargers alone, with regular Level 2 charging points common in many European cities.
With schemes such as this, it's unsurprising that The Netherlands is one of Europe's most electric car-friendly countries--or that companies such as Tesla Motors are basing their European operations there.
The Netherlands' efforts certainly put those in the U.S. to shame. While there are more than 6,000 public charging points in the U.S, only 150 or so of those are fast chargers, capable of delivering a full charge in 15-30 minutes.
However, ABB says the lessons learned in Europe may benefit similar roll-outs in the States, particularly with regard to the different software of individual electric vehicles, how that works with charging networks, and how customers are billed at chargers where a fee is required.
The roll-out is also a little different in Europe to that of the U.S. In European countries, charger networks are often orchestrated as part of nationwide schemes, while U.S. networks often begin in cities and then radiate outwards, joining up along "electric highways".
This does leave some areas of the U.S. with fewer charging options than others, though the U.S. West Coast and the North East regions, where EV adoption is highest, are currently the best-supplied with charging networks.
For the time being though, The Netherlands will be top of the pile when it comes to electric car fast charging.
Whether we'll see the quirky yellow-arched Fastned stations in the U.S. is a different matter--another company getting into electric car charging on its premises already has a claim to that one...