On September 1, 2021, the Monopolies Commission published its 8th Energy Sector Report focusing inter alia on competition for electric vehicle charging points.[1]  Just one month later, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) published its interim report on its sector inquiry into the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.[2]

The reports identify a three-tiered value chain of the charging infrastructure market.  First, local municipalities (and to a lesser extent private land owners) provide suitable areas for the construction of charging points.  Second, charging point operators (“CPO”) construct and operate the charging points.  Third, drivers of electric vehicles have two options to charge their car.  Either they buy electricity directly (ad hoc) from the CPO.  In the alternative, they acquire a charging card from an Emobility Service Provider (“EMP”) that allows them to charge their cars at the CPO charging points.  EMPs resell the CPOs services, offer apps to help drivers find partner CPOs and provide payment services.

Both the FCO and the Monopolies Commission observe that the municipalities’ practice to award charging point areas have created dominant CPOs in a number of regions, which are often the local municipal utility providers.  They therefore recommend mandatory public tenders.  Subsidies for the construction of charging points should be awarded in a non-discriminatory manner.

The FCO examined but did not find excessive prices for the charging of electric vehicles.  Differences in pricing may be due to varying degrees of utilization of the charging points, differences in charging speed, and due to the market still being nascent.  The FCO does not recommend regulation of prices, but rather encourages measures to promote competition among CPOs.

The Monopolies Commission suggests a creation of a public price register, akin to the register maintained by the FCO’s Market Transparency Unit for Fuels to enhance price transparency for customers.  The FCO does not support creating such a register in this nascent market.

Editor: Katharina Apel

[1]              The Monopoly Commission’s Press Release of September 1, 2022, available in English here; the full report is only available in German here.

[2]              The FCO’s Press Release of October 12, 2021, available in English here; the full interim report is only available in German here.  We also published an article on the commencement of the investigation, available on our Cleary Antitrust Watch blog here.