Rheinmetall is launching another pilot project for innovative curb chargers

The Rheinmetall Group, together with the municipality of Nörvenich as the initiator and Westenergie AG as the energy and infrastructure provider, is launching a pilot project to trial curb chargers on the municipality’s public roads. The aim of the project is to integrate and pilot the curb chargers developed by Rheinmetall at two different locations. The municipality is located within the catchment of the Cologne metropolitan area and is rural in nature with around 12,000 inhabitants. After Rheinmetall and the project partners recently signed a pilot contract, representatives of all project partners came together in Nörvenich for the official launch on April 29, 2024.

The pilot project follows on seamlessly from the recent rollout of the first curb chargers in the metropolitan area of the city of Cologne. While cities are known for their high population density and the associated challenges, such as low availability of space, urban planning restrictions, and high parking pressure, comparable problems arise in small communities, especially in areas dominated by apartment buildings. Other factors that have to be taken into account during planning and implementation include the width of sidewalks, lines of sight, supply lines in the sidewalk, and issues relating to listed buildings. These factors often make locations unfeasible or unattractive in terms of cost. Ambitious climate protection targets and the central role assigned to smaller municipalities by the German government in the expansion of public charging infrastructure pose challenges. Simple and widely available charging infrastructure addresses these challenges and makes the municipality a more attractive option for residents in the long term.

The integration of the electronic module into a curb utilizes existing infrastructure and facilitates the installation of charging infrastructure even in places where it would not normally be possible to install a charging station. Christoph Müller, Division Manager Power Systems: “We are delighted that the municipality of Nörvenich has seen the value of our solution and has set things in motion to be one of the first to pilot the systems in public areas. Our curb chargers, which seamlessly blend into the streetscape, help to solve a major problem as we move towards more electromobility on a wider scale. Charging infrastructure needs to be available to everyone across the board, easily and reliably.”

Dr. Timo Czech, Mayor of the municipality of Nörvenich, explains why the innovative charging concept is a logical approach for a range of different locations, and one that is underpinned by the commitment of a modern and open-minded municipality to proactively help shape the mobility transition: “It is often difficult for people in apartments or houses without parking spaces on their own property to make the transition to electromobility. They cannot install a wallbox, nor are they allowed to lay a cable across the sidewalk to charge their vehicle. This is precisely why the Rheinmetall curb charger is the perfect solution – it provides a charging point located directly next to parking spaces in public areas, without having to install a standard charging station on the sidewalk, which further restricts the space available to pedestrians.”

Dr. Timo Czech was quick to express his interest in the charging solution and offered up his municipality for a pilot scheme. Westenergie Metering, which already operates more than 1,700 charging points, acted as his partner. They were Rheinmetall’s perfect match: a company with experience in charging infrastructure and a municipality that would allow them to test charging in public spaces.

The municipality and Westenergie worked together to find suitable areas within the municipality that were both highly frequented and had the necessary network infrastructure. Two locations were selected: Heribertstrasse in Eschweiler über Feld and Ubierstrasse in Nörvenich. The Düren-based civil engineering company Lück und Wahlen carried out the essential connection and civil engineering work for the project within a very short time frame.

Dr. Stefan Küppers, Chief Technology Officer at Westenergie, commented: “The expansion of electromobility requires new, innovative solutions that take into account specific local conditions and the needs of citizens. Curb chargers are an excellent addition to conventional charging points. We managed to complete the project within a very short space of time – thanks to the municipality of Nörvenich, the project partners, and a certain amount of pragmatism.”

In the coming years, rural areas will face just as many challenges as growing metropolises: climate change and climate protection, mobility, economic change, and digitalization. Public charging infrastructure has a key role to play in the mobility transition: nationwide charging facilities are an essential prerequisite for the switch to electromobility. The German government can only achieve its ambitious target of 15 million electric cars by 2030 with a proportionate expansion of this infrastructure. This will require around 1 million public charging points in Germany to enable people without their own parking and charging facilities to switch to low-emission electric vehicles.

The fast, flexible, scalable, and cost-effective installation of freely accessible public charging points is crucial for this. For this reason, the solution developed by Rheinmetall relies on the intelligent use of existing urban infrastructure and offers electric vehicle drivers charging facilities capable of delivering up to 22 kW. This makes the curb charger the perfect addition to conventional charging stations in public spaces. This robust solution can be installed almost anywhere and is therefore scalable, which is crucial for infrastructure providers such as Westenergie: this means that reliable charging infrastructure can be offered across a wide area and can also be rolled out in locations where it is not possible to install a charging station.

Safety is Rheinmetall’s top priority: the systems have undergone extensive testing before being deployed in public spaces as part of another pilot project. Rheinmetall is making an important contribution to the mobility transition with the solution it has developed and is taking responsibility for creating a future that works for us.

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