Charging infrastructure FAQs

What are the basic differences in the charging infrastructure?

Distinctions are made between Home, Travel and Destination charging.

Home charging: This is when your vehicle is charged at home. It generally takes place without any time pressure (e.g. overnight). For that reason, the charging capacity is often limited (up to approx. 11 kW). Charging is carried out using alternating current via the mains.

Destination charging: This is the term given to charging at a destination. Be it at work, a shopping centre or a restaurant. In other words, anywhere you travel to and stay for a certain amount of time. Generally, the capacity ranges from 4 kW to 22 kW. In this case too, charging is generally carried out using alternating current via the mains.

Travel charging: This is the term given when charging at an intermediate stop. The stop itself usually has no purpose other than to charge the batteries. As a result, the charging time – or rather the charging capacity – has priority. Standard charging capacities for "quick-charging" are 22 kW and above. Unlike Home and Destination charging, Travel charging is carried out using direct current and is therefore not connected directly to the mains.

What capacity do I require?

As described above, it depends a great deal on the application. For quick-charging, in other words charges of 22 kW and above, direct-current systems have been implemented. Such systems easily cost several hundred thousand Swiss francs and require a larger installation.

Alternating-current systems can be used for up to 22 kW, which is normally fed directly from the mains. There are various factors to consider in this matter:

How much capacity can the vehicles actually take? This paints an interesting picture: The vast majority of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids have two charging options. Either via a 4 kW alternating-current system (230 V 1-phase, 16 A) or via 20 kW – only on the basis of a direct-current quick charge, however.

How long do the cars remain at the charging station? At home, hotels or at your place of work the car will happily remain in the parking space and connected to the charging station for 8 hours or more. In addition, a longer stay in shopping centres and restaurants is also desirable from the point of view of the proprietor.

Do I need a billing system?

Many manufacturers now offer systems that charge consumers for the electricity used. The offers are varied: They include almost everything, from access via a chargeable RFID card through to app-based solutions. This leads to folders full of different cards and countless apps from a variety of different providers.

We are convinced that ultimately the consumer-friendliest solution will prevail. As far as charging for electricity costs is concerned, we are very sceptical: Depending on the battery status, a single charge costs between CHF 1.00 and 5.00. We are of the opinion that electricity costs will easily be recovered by consumption on-site. In any case, billing can be settled considerably more easily using ticket prices in multi-storey car parks and flat-rate rental of parking spaces.

We'd like to refer to Wi-Fi connection in hotels or restaurants as an example. At one time, people tried to charge for the duration of Internet usage. Now it's considered victimisation if a Wi-Fi connection is not included in the service.

Is some form of access control required?

Legally, no access control is required. That is because barrier-free access considerably improves user-friendliness. However, practically all stations can now be fitted with an access control system, if desired.

As the driver of an electric vehicle, how do I find the nearest suitable charging station?

There are currently various online directories that list the locations and configurations of the relevant charging stations. They are updated by users and providers on an ongoing basis. One of the most well-known directories is Chargemap (www.chargemap.com).

How do I know whether a charging station is still free, or whether it's already occupied?

Once again, there are various systems, all of which communicate via the Internet. There are some stations which automatically report when they are occupied. At others, you can check in or out directly via the charging station directory (e.g. www.chargemap.com). That makes it immediately clear whether a charging station is free.