September 19, 2017 / 6:01 PM / in 3 months

EDF sees rapid growth in electric car charging business

* EU-funded French EV charging network grows quickly

* Corri-Door is big part of French motorway charge network

* EDF’s EV business Sodetrel sees 50 pct revenue growth

By Geert De Clercq

PARIS, Sept 19 (Reuters) - French utility EDF is expecting rapid growth in its electric vehicle charging network and aims to increase the number of its docking stations, an EDF executive said.

EDF’s electric mobility business Sodetrel has achieved revenue growth of 50 percent annually in the past three years. It now operates some 4,000 charging points countrywide, mainly in public spaces.

Sodetrel’s new Corri-Door fast-charging network along French highways has also grown rapidly. The number of individual charges tripled to 3,000 in August this year from 1,000 in August 2016, Sodetrel CEO Juliette Antoine-Simon said at an EDF strategy presentation on Tuesday.

“There are no queues at our charging stations yet, but some of them are highly utilised,” she told reporters.

Corri-Door’s 200 fast-charging 50 kilovolt stations are placed at 80 kilometre (50 miles) intervals in petrol stations along French highways and allow an electric vehicle (EV) to be recharged in 20-30 minutes.

Antoine-Simon said Corri-Door stations in the Paris area, as well as on major motorways to the south, north and west were used intensively. Sodetrel is looking to increase the number of chargers in busy stations and is considering new locations.

The Corri-Door network, built at a cost of 10 million euros ($12 million), is operated by Sodetrel in partnership with Renault, Nissan, BMW and Volkswagen and is a key link in Europe’s EV charging network.

All electric car brands, including Tesla, can use Corri-Door and Sodetrel customers also have access to some 50,000 EV charging stations in other European countries.

Utilities are competing to build the first pan-European EV charging networks as the range of these cars increases. France’s Engie has bought Dutch EVBox, while Germany’s E.ON partners with Denmark’s CLEVER.

Asked whether EDF is also looking to build an EU-wide network, Antoine-Simon said Sodetrel had strong ambitions but would only invest where it saw demand.

Corri-Door is the biggest player on French highways as other brands only operate a handful of stations.

In terms of charging stations not on the major highways, Sodetrel has a market share of nearly a third of France’s 17,000 public charging stations.

It aims to grow that share as it takes over the running of charging stations from construction companies such as Bouygues which build these facilities as part of construction projects but then leave operation to others.

Sodetrel operates public charging networks in the cities of Paris, Marseille and Grenoble as well as for regions such as Hauts de France and Seine Maritime.

It also operates charging stations for parking lot operator Indigo, in parking lots for IKEA, retailer Auchamps and Paris airports ADP among others. ($1 = 0.8356 euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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