Queues at charging stations for electric cars in Spain

In line at the charging stations: drivers need to plan their journey through Spain carefully

by Lorraine Williamson
electric cars

Social media in Spain were abuzz: queues at Tesla superchargers in Spain. The traffic on Spanish roads was heavy around Easter. With the increasing number of electric cars, it became clear last weekend how vulnerable the charging infrastructure is.

Spain currently has 29,301 public charging points for electric cars. That number is still far from the intended 45,000 that the country should have. Those unlucky found themselves in queues for a spot at the charging station around Easter. Due to the heavy traffic during Semana Santa, it became clear that the infrastructure for public charging points is currently vulnerable. However, a report from ANFAC, the Spanish trade association for the automotive industry, states that the problem in Spain lies not so much in the number of charging points but rather in the number of properly functioning charging spots.

Semana Santa crowds expose charging problem

During Semana Santa, the crowds at Tesla Superchargers even made the news in Norway, a country that holds electric mobility in high regard. Especially at the charging stations on the A-31: La Gineta and Atalaya del Cañavete, with 8 and 10 charging points respectively, long lines of Tesla owners waited for their turn.

Crowds only at Tesla Superchargers

Incidentally, queues were only at Tesla Superchargers. This problem did not occur at other charging networks, such as Ionity or Zunder. A plausible explanation for the problems is the fact that Tesla is the brand that sells the most electric cars in Spain. The most extensive and reliable charging network is therefore linked to Tesla. Tesla recently opened part of its Supercharger network for use by other brands. However, the biggest demand for charging comes from its own vehicles. While Tesla drivers can also charge their cars at charging points from other brands, in practice, this happens infrequently.

Tesla charging spots offer less hassle

There are several reasons for the popularity of Tesla chargers. For example, charging costs are much cheaper at points in Tesla’s own network. However, that is not the main reason; the simplicity of the process is. At Tesla charging points, you just have to plug in your car. At those of other brands, you have to download an app, create a user account, log in, enter your credit card details, and then wait for everything to work…

Cogesa Expats

Another advantage of Tesla’s network is the car navigator that keeps track of all information about each Supercharger. This allows for easy route calculation based on location, status, whether they may be out of service, whether they are occupied, and for how long. This information generally keeps waiting times short. Moreover, the network is usually more reliable than that of other brands. The two stations that experienced problems on Easter Sunday allow the charging of any brand of electric vehicle. This led to high demand, resulting in long queues.

Network reliability

According to ANFAC’s report, besides the shortage of charging points, the challenge for Spain lies in the reliability and distribution of these charging points. Currently, 7,000 charging points are not in use, which is one in four. Moreover, the installation of new points often takes time due to bureaucratic red tape. Drivers prefer reliability because non-functioning charging points can cause a lot of frustration during a journey.

Many agree that the number of fast charging points along highways needs to increase. It is also desirable for the charging points to have higher power. Until then, every driver will need to plan their journey well. They need to know which charging points they will encounter on the route and especially whether they are operational. There is nothing more frustrating than having a nearly empty battery and finding out at a charging point that it doesn’t work. Improving the system requires the commitment of charging network operators. They need to keep track of the status of the charging points and realise new charging points in the coming years.

Be warned and plan your trip well until then!

Also read: Where can you find charging points for your electric vehicle in Spain?

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