Tesla’s Fight Against Charging Station Monopoly in Germany Moves to European Court

Tesla’s fight against the monopoly on charging stations located along the autobahns in Germany has gone to the European Court of Justice. Tesla and Dutch Fastned have sued Autobahn Tank & Rast, which received the sole right to place charging stations without a tender.

Tesla challenges Autobahn Tank & Rast monopoly in court

In April, Tesla sued Autobahn Tank & Rast, which is seeking to expand its monopoly to install charging stations along German autobahns. In Germany, Autobahn Tank & Rast has a monopoly on the installation of gas stations and rest areas on the autobahns. This monopoly could be expanded to include electric vehicle charging stations thanks to a permit last year it received without a tender. This situation prevents the growth of healthy competition and prevents consumers from having equal access to different providers. In Germany, Tank & Rast owns 95 percent of the concessions for the operation of petrol stations, hotels, and autobahn restaurants.

The case moves to the European Court of Justice (ECJ)

Tesla and the Dutch company Fastned are resisting the rise of the monopoly. The decision of the Federal Anti-Cartel Office was challenged by the companies at the Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf. However, it has now become known that the legal dispute will be dealt with by the ECJ. The Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf announced on Friday it had suspended proceedings in the case. This is done in order for the European Court to clarify the central issue.

Tank & Rast’s license has been extended without a tender

In May 2022, the EU Commission ruled that Tank & Rast is allowed to install charging infrastructure at gas stations located along autobahns. However, initially, the contract between the government and Tank & Rast, from the 1990s, only covered regular gas stations, not charging stations. Therefore, the extension of the contract to charging stations is unfair, without consideration of proposals from all market participants. In fact, the permit was issued without a tender. Tesla and Fastned require infrastructure expansion to be “openly and transparently to all interested market participants, and not directly to one party.”

The European Court must clarify important issues

In the first instance, Tesla and Fastned failed. In the second instance, the legal dispute was referred to the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf. Now this court wants the facts to be examined in Luxembourg in accordance with European law.

The Court must answer the question of whether the extension of concession contracts, which were originally awarded between various public sectors within the country and then transferred to a private company, should be put up for tender. After clarification of this issue, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf will make its decision.

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