The Autobahn — the German highway famous for its lack of speed limits in some sections — is state-owned.
But the gas stations along the Autobahn are controlled by Tank & Rast, a formerly state-owned entity that was privatized in 1998. And apparently, Tank & Rast has not been very welcoming to electric vehicle charging stations operated by non-German companies.
As a result, American EV maker Tesla and Netherlands-based charging operator Fastned are suing Tank & Rast, challenging its monopoly on service stations. The plaintiffs argue that Tank & Rast’s near-monopoly on parking lots and gas stations should not extend to EV charging stations, which they say should be in a different category.
Though Tank & Rast does currently have EV charging stations scattered alongside the Autobahn, it has limited which companies are allowed to build them.
As of late April, Tesla was not on that list. Out of the four companies that currently operate EV charging stations on the Autobahn, three — EnBW, Ionity, and E.ON’s innogy — are based in Germany. The fourth, Mer, has headquarters in Norway and operates in multiple countries, including Germany.
According to the company’s website, “Tank & Rast is also a key player in the topic of electric mobility in Germany and is actively shaping the transition … By enabling long-distance journeys, we are making a significant contribution to the acceptance of electric vehicles and are thus advancing to the breakthrough of electric mobility in Germany.”
Tesla and Fastned seem to disagree with this self-assessment, or, at the very least, they would like to get involved in the action.
Tesla vehicles can be charged anywhere with access to an outlet and with an adapter at many third-party and public EV chargers. They will charge the fastest at a Tesla Supercharger, but it is important to note that it is still viable for Tesla owners to drive along the Autobahn and charge along the way.
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