German Gas Station Monopoly Won't Let Tesla Install Chargers Along The Autobahn

Electric Vehicles / 3 Comments

Tesla is responding with a lawsuit.

Tesla is suing Tank & Rest, a large gas station company operating in Germany, for its right to install charging stations along the famed Autobahn.

According to the German publication Focus, Tank & Rust is a monopoly because it has the rights to 95% of rest stops, hotels, restaurants, and gas stations along the Autobahn. It has installed some electric vehicle chargers, but those units are not from Tesla but rather from EnBW, MER, Ionity, and Eon-Innogy.

Tesla has understandably taken issue with the current situation because it's Germany's most popular EV automaker. It also has a massive Gigafactory outside of Berlin, churning out Model 3 and Model Y to keep up with growing demand. Why shouldn't Tesla be allowed to add more chargers along the world's most famous highway (whose lack of speed limits could be preserved by EVs)? That's precisely the automaker's point.


Tesla is arguing its case before the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court to determine "whether the federal government will extend the Tank & Rast monopoly at motorway service stations to include fast charging."

It's important to know that before Tank & Rust assumed control over this station network, it was a state-owned company until privatization happened in 1998. It's now owned by Allianz Capital Partners, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and the Canadian infrastructure fund Borealis Infrastructure. It retained a very close working relationship with the government, which has done little to nothing to allow fair market competition.

Tesla's argument is straightforward: Tank & Rust's gas station monopoly should not apply to charging stations because it's a different business entirely. Tesla is not saying the company needs to stop building charging stations, but it also wants a slice of the pie. Another argument is that Tank & Rust has too much power in general.

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For example, it currently has the sole ability to decide where charging stations can be installed along the Autobahn. Fastned's German market representative said this is "not just about this case, but about the competition in general. We see a realistic chance of winning the process."

It's worth pointing out that the EU has taken an uncompromising approach to corporate monopolies in general, including Google and Meta. And, not to mention, it has banned sales of new ICE vehicles starting in 2035. If this case eventually makes its way to the European Court of Justice, Tesla and Fastned have a powerful argument.

The case is also embarrassing for the German federal government, not only because of its ties to Tank & Rust but also because of its strong endorsement of EVs. It embraced Tesla CEO Elon Musk with open arms when he wanted to build the Gigafactory.

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