Tesla and Dutch EV charging company Fastnet have partnered to sue German petrol station giant Tank & Rast over its monopoly on EV charging stations on the German Autobahn.
According to the publication Tesmanian, Tank & Rast has a near monopoly on the installation of gas stations and rest areas on autobahns across Germany. The service station’s autobahn monopoly has resulted because Tank & Rast’s was originally a government entity but was privatised in 1998.
“In Germany, Tank & Rast has 95 percent of the concessions to operate gas stations, hotels, and restaurants on the motorways. This monopoly can now be expanded to include electric vehicle charging stations due to last year’s permit,” said Tesmanian in a blog post.
“In May 2022, the EU Commission ruled that Tank & Rast is allowed to expand its charging infrastructure at gas stations. However, Tesla and Fastned filed a lawsuit to ensure that the expansion of the infrastructure is carried out “openly and transparently to all interested market participants, and not directly to one party,” said Tesmanian.
“In fact, the concession agreements negotiated between the federal government and Tank & Rast in the late 1990s only cover regular gas stations, not charging stations. However, now Autobahn just wants to extend these contracts to charging stations.”
Tesla and Fastnet are suing because Tank & Rast recently acquired a controversial permit to install EV chargers at its locations which would result in the company having an almost complete monopoly on EV charging across Germany’s huge autobahn freeway network.
Tesla and Fastnet can’t block Tank & Rast from installing EV chargers but their legal case hopes to give them the right to install their own chargers at Tank & Rast locations as well. The case argues this will ensure consumer choice and availability.
“It’s not just about this case, but about the competition in general,” said a Fastned representative before this week’s court hearing. “Charging at service areas should become fairer, more open and cheaper.”
The case is being held at the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf. The case is expected to drag out and appeals are anticipated regardless of who wins. The case could head to a higher German court or even make its way to the European Court of Justice, an international court operated by the European Union.
With EV sales booming in Europe the outcome of the case will have massive ramifications for competition in the EV charging market and for Germany’s charging network.
Daniel Bleakley is a clean technology researcher and advocate with a background in engineering and business. He has a strong interest in electric vehicles, renewable energy, manufacturing and public policy.