Here's how EV drivers charge their cars across Europe

4 min read
Nov 12, 2020 8:00:00 AM

We at Virta have been gathering EV charging stations usage data since 2013. Dive into our data, see how European countries are charging, and learn how you can build up the usage rate of your charging stations.

By the end of 2019, 7.2 million electric cars could be plugged into 7.3 million charging stations around the world. Electric vehicles are mostly charged at home all over the world: it is the most convenient and economical way to have the batteries full for a day.

Approximately 12% of global EV charging stations were in public use in 2019. In summer 2020, the number of public charging plugs around the world ticked above the 1 million mark. 

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Norway, being the global leader in the number of electric cars on the roads, currently has more than 18 000 public charging stations available for EV drivers. Finland and Denmark both have less than 4000 public charging stations – a number that comports with the electric vehicle stock in these countries.

EV charger utilisation rates of five European countries

We gathered together utilization rates of 12 000 selected charging stations in Virta network from 5 different European countries. All data is based on the assumption that most charging stations are available for customers 365 days a year, for 24 hours per day.

The data set gathered from stations in the Virta network has been divided into DC charging points, including mostly fast chargers, and AC charging points in both public and private use.

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The most popular AC charging stations are always in use

The highest AC charging station utilization takes place in Finland and Sweden, where the average station utilization rate is 11%. The average utilization of the top 30 most used charging stations in these countries reaches almost 70%.

A large number of AC charging stations in Finland are located in residential buildings. The average station utilization at private, residential charging stations can differ from 30 to 70%.

Another very popular AC charging station location in Finland are airport parking spaces, where the utilization rates of the chargers can differ from 50 to even 95%.

However, in the data set, the average station utilization rates drop down to 11%, due to less frequently used public stations that affect the statistics.

Also in Switzerland, the top 30 AC chargers have 69% utilization rate. Most of the top 30 chargers are located in busy parking houses, where cars are parked for long periods, pushing the utilization rates up.

According to our data, the countries with a smaller number of public charging stations, have a larger variety in the utilization rates. In these countries, the most popular stations, probably located in busy places and traffic knots, are used very frequently

Danish EV drivers love their DC chargers

Another interesting detail that stands out from the data is that in Denmark, the DC charging station utilization rates overrun the AC charging station rates. Generally, DC charging stations have less potential use cases, because the pricing is time-based. DC charging stations are most often public fast charging stations, whereas most AC stations are private. Private stations are located in places where charging is the most convenient, such as at home or at work.

However, in Denmark, the average DC charging station rate is 13,6 %, and the top 30 stations’ utilization rate reaches 26%. Basically, the 30 most popular charging stations are in use one-fourth of the day. Hooray for Danish people charging hard!

This can be due to the fact, that the number of electric cars in Denmark per each public charging point is rather low. In 2020, there are approximately 11 electric vehicles per 1 public charging point. Since the charging infrastructure development is ahead of the development of the vehicle population, the price of fast charging is kept low to encourage people to purchase electric cars. As the market matures, the fast charging prices are usually pushed up to enable more customers to have access to charging stations.

What affects the charging station utilisation rates?

In essence, the utilization rates depend on the location, type of use and pricing. 

Choosing a charger that fits together with the location and the needs of customers is an essential step in service development. Knowledge about the local market and customers’ desired type of use of the chargers are required when making decisions about the right kind of chargers. A fast charging station in the wrong place is a loss investment you don’t want to make.

Yet, a device is only one step of creating an effortless charging experience. Customer support and technical problem solving, payments, charger management, customer credit risks and roaming services all have a great influence on the credibility of a charging service, and hence also affect the utilization rates of the chargers.

As the Danish charging utilization rates show, pricing is one of the most effective ways to have an influence on the EV charging station usage rates. With dynamic charging pricing, the charging station owner can also steer customers to behave in the desired way.

Grow or lower the EV charging station utilisation rates with pricing.

Just like the pricing of flights and taxi services, also the prices of electricity vary depending on supply and demand. With low EV charging prices, customers can be attracted to spend more time at a shopping mall. On the contrary, higher prices can be used to encourage fast charging station customers to move their vehicles away from the station quickly after the battery is full.

In a nutshell, different pricing scenarios are suitable for different locations, and should be carefully researched in advance instead of making an empirical test with valuable customers. Yet another reason to rely on the help of professionals when choosing the right way to offer charging services. Professionals like us.

Virta takes care of all the complexities

Join the tribe of over 22 000 EV charging stations with high utilization rates. With our broad experience, you can build a charging service to match with your customers’ needs.

Virta provides you with EV charging as a service – download our e-book to learn more.