VIENNA Austrian energy and petrol station group OMV (OMVV.VI) is to buy a 40-percent stake in Smatrics, a company that provides charging points for electric cars, owned by hydropower firm Verbund (VERB.VI) and Germany's Siemens (SIEGn.DE), the Austrian companies said on Thursday.
Smatrics manages around 400 charging points in Austria, which Verbund supplies with green power. It also handles the construction and management of charging points at petrol stations, for private households and companies such as retailers Ikea and Rewe, hotels and transport companies.
"Verbund has green power. OMV has a lot of infrastructure. It basically is a logical combination to try to contribute a little to the reduction of CO2," OMV's downstream chief Manfred Leitner told reporters.
Smatrics' priority is to expand in Austria and Germany while considering a push into the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary at a later date, the companies said.
The aim is to increase the number and quality of so-called swift charging stations so that electric cars would be able to drive 100 kilometers (62 miles) an hour after five minutes of charging, Verbund chief Wolfgang Anzengruber said.
The companies did not disclose the purchase price for the 40-percent stake, which OMV will pay for in cash. Ultimately, OMV and Verbund will each hold 40-percent of Smatrics and Siemens the rest.
There were 13,000 electronic vehicles in use in Austria at the end of 2016, Leitner said. In terms of newly registered private cars, Anzengruber said there was a 74-percent rise between the first quarter of last year and this year.
In the commercial sector, the numbers more than doubled since 2015, he said.
"Admittedly this is coming from a low level, but there is something developing here," Anzengruber said.
"Austria expects its market to include 175,000 electric cars by 2020 and the European Union has defined a 30-percent stake of new registrations for electric mobility by 2030."
Smatrics revenues were in the small million-euro-range at present, Anzengruber said. He said investments financed by the company along with European and Austrian subsidies would reach two-digit million euro amounts over the coming years.
Siemens and Verbund, together with Austrian steel maker Voestalpine (VOES.VI), are also planning to build a plant in Austria to make green hydrogen more suitable for industrial use. OMV and Verbund are also evaluating cooperation in hydrogen projects.
(Reporting By Shadia Nasralla. Editing by Jane Merriman)