Renault unveils charging network for French motorways

French motorists are to get a comprehensive electric vehicle charging network along the country's highway network.

French automaker Renault announced a partnership with VINCI Autoroutes, the firm which operates nearly half of the privately-run French motorways, July 13, promising to deploy electric vehicle infrastructure across the network.

The project, set to begin work later this year, will see quick-charging points installed in some motorway service plazas, so that drivers can rapidly charge cars that are running out of juice.

At first, the program will focus on sections of the network most regularly used for commuting, the partners said, including routes such as Paris to Orleans and Tours, Paris to Chartres and Le Mans, and Arles to Montpellier in the South.

In carpool parking lots, reserved for shared vehicles, VINCI is also set to set aside space for five electric vehicles in each lot, with electric charging stations made available for zero-emissions carsharing - a total of 738 electric carpooling spaces will be installed by 2013, the partners announced.

Renault, which plans to launch its all-electric range "ZE" (zero emissions) later this year, is one of the names leading the charge in the electrification of European motoring, already partnering with Better Place to install a charging network in Denmark.

This latest move will give it a high-visibility presence on the French motorway network, although it still faces competition - most notably from VW and Daimler, which are forging ahead with partnerships in Germany - in the European EV charging space.

Close to 2 million public charging points will be available in Europe by 2017, predicts analyst Frost & Sullivan.

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