free electric car charging is outdated

Lidl has announced its intention to stop free charging for electric cars in Belgium. In France, this was already the case. Although disappointing for consumers, this transition was inevitable given the economic reality: offering free electricity comes at a cost.

There was a time when free electric car charging was a powerful argument to encourage consumers to go all-electric. For brands, it was an ingenious way to attract customers to their establishments. Whether on public terminals, in supermarkets, and for a long time at Lidl. In Belgium, however, the tide is turning.

Lidl recently announced to the newspaper Belang van Limburg that it would soon end its free charging stations. Although no specific date has been set, the transition should be done quickly. The brand mentions difficulties in maintaining this free service, in particular after the rise in energy prices observed this winter. Despite everything, Lidl reassures its customers: they will always benefit from a preferential rate at paying charging stations. Lidl is not the only brand to take this step. In Belgium, Delhaize and Ikea have also indicated their intention to charge for charging electric cars in the future.

In France, Lidl has gradually made its payload. However, this transition was accompanied by the introduction of fast charging terminals at a preferential rate. A significant advantage for users of electric cars. At Carrefour, in France, for example, the situation is a little different. To benefit from one hour of free charging, you must hold a loyalty card.

To quickly check which charging services are chargeable, how much they cost and check the availability of terminals, you can use the Chargeprice app. You will see that free charging stations are now rare. In the Paris region, they can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

When it’s free, it’s slow

It should be remembered that when these services are free, they are usually slow and time-limited. In most cases, these are alternating current charging stations, with a power of 3.7 kW, 7 kW, 11 kW or 22 kW. Concretely, this means that after one hour of charging, you can recover enough energy to cover between 20 and 150 kilometers. For customers who easily spend several hours in shopping malls, this allowed the battery to be recharged almost completely.

Yes, it can be disappointing for consumers to learn that the services they used to use for free will start to charge. However, in the case of electric car charging, this transition was inevitable. Companies that once offered this service for free must face an inescapable economic reality: providing free electricity has a cost.

One of the main factors is the cost of the charging equipment itself. Charging stations for electric cars are sophisticated devices that require a significant financial investment. In addition, they require regular maintenance to stay in good working order. All of this is an expense that businesses must bear.

The second factor is the rising cost of electricity. Over the past few months, energy prices have risen significantly. Companies that provide charging services are not immune to this trend. The higher the cost of electricity, the more expensive it becomes to provide these services for free.

It is essential to remember that companies cannot afford to lose money indefinitely. While offering free electric car charging can be a great way to attract customers, this needs to be balanced against the reality of operational costs. If a business loses money every time it provides a service, it can jeopardize its long-term viability.

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