Actually, all customers of Fastned would rather not be a customer of Fastned. Charging your electric car is preferably done at night, at home in the driveway, or at a charging station at work. Not along the highway, where you have to wait next to it for fifteen minutes.
But Fastned’s (and competitors’) fast charging stations are indispensable. A good infrastructure of charging stations along highways is a precondition for the transition to electric driving. With the rapidly increasing number of electric cars, Fastned operates in a growing market.
Nevertheless, the share price of Fastned showed a slightly declining trend last year. Even last week’s relatively favorable sales figures had little effect. Fastned reported 154 percent more revenue in the fourth quarter of 2021 than a year earlier.
Analysts and investors do not look so much at those numbers. The company has never made a profit since its inception in 2012. The current share value is mainly based on expectations. And then a price of about 50 euros is quite high, thinks ING analyst Marc Hesselink. “It has to go very well to make that happen.”
The most important thing for Fastned is that it acquires new locations for charging stations. This concerns so-called high traffic locations along highways. “There are 245 such locations in the Netherlands,” says Hesselink.
Fastned now has 132 fast charging stations in the Netherlands. Stations in five other countries brought the total to 188 at the beginning of this year. Fastned has already ‘introduced’ another 331 locations. Next year, the eyes will mainly be on France. Hesselink: “The French government has now designated 360 high traffic locations where fast charging stations will be located. 120 of these will be put out to tender shortly.”
That is an interesting market for Fastned, and according to analysts the company has good opportunities. Last year, the French government ordered the construction of charging stations for fourteen locations, twelve of which went to Fastned.
“A great achievement for a small company”, says Hesselink. Although, according to him, it is unrealistic to expect Fastned to be able to maintain this market share for the whole of France. Because the competition is great. For example, from Allego, which already has the largest market share in Europe and hopes to raise a lot of money on the American stock exchange soon for further expansion.
That is what the company EVBox had in mind, by the way, until it turned out that the turnover and margin figures had been polished up a bit in the report for 2019. Hesselink: “It shows again: this is a world of pioneers, that includes cowboys.”
And what influence does the sharply increased electricity price have? “It has indeed suddenly become a factor,” says Hesselink. “Previously, a kWh cost 4 or 5 cents. Fastned charged 59 cents at the fast charging station. But the electricity price has quadrupled. That has an impact.”
According to analyst Jan Richard of the German investment bank Berenberg, Fastned is willing to temporarily accept a lower margin. “Good for scoring in tenders and also for maximizing customer satisfaction.” But there is a limit to it. In November 2021, Fastned therefore raised the price for a kWh along Dutch, Belgian and German highways to 69 cents.
“The good news is,” says Richard, “that the demand for power at Fastned’s locations will remain unchanged for the time being.” People with an electric car appear to be willing to pay the higher rates.
That’s right, says Hesselink, the customers are not that ‘price sensitive’. “That’s because most of them are now lease drivers. The boss will pay. But I am curious what will happen if more people buy an electric car themselves.”
Jolanda van de Beld A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of January 17, 2022