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In which car parks are electric vehicle charging stations mandatory?

Plug-in vehicle users need to know where they can find a charging station. In fact, more and more places are installing them, partly because certain car parks are legally required to do so.

Besides, by law these infrastructures must meet various technical requirements. Specifically, they have to comply with the provisions of the low voltage regulation, which sets out different schemes depending on aspects such as the location of the charging station and the knowledge of those who are going to use it.

Which car parks are required to install charging stations?

Article 4 of Royal Decree-Law 29/2021 requires the installation of charging stations in two types of car parks, provided that they have more than 20 spaces:

  • Car parks not attached to buildings. This means outdoor spaces used for vehicle parking, whether for free or for a fee.
  • Car parks located inside non-residential buildings to which they are attached. This includes workplaces, educational, health, social health, shopping, leisure and many other frequent destination points when travelling within or to the urban centre of cities and towns.

 

What is the aim of mandatory charging stations in car parks

If you think about it, these car parks are the parking point for a significant portion of traffic. However, it does not include some important routes, such as those where you park in the following spaces:

  • Residential buildings. However, many installations of charging stations in homes are facilitated because, according to article 17.5 of the Commonhold Property Act, only prior notification is required in resident communities. Of course, these are designed for private use, so if you're not heading to your own home, you should ask the person you are visiting.
  • Parking spaces located outside car parks or in smaller car parks.
  • Charging stations. However, they have their own obligations to install electric car charging stations.
  • Spaces outside the limits of towns and cities.

In any case, the idea is to be able to have, through charging stations in car parks, instruments to improve the possibilities for managing the autonomy of the electric car. In addition, it is not uncommon for these buildings to be an intermediate stop and for other activities to be carried out in them, in addition to the recharging itself.

For example, you go to work, you recharge there, and when you leave, you may want to go to a leisure facility located in another town. The time that your working day has lasted has allowed your vehicle to cover more kilometres, even longer journeys.

 

How many charging stations are mandatory in car parks?

The regulation distinguishes two cases:

  • In general, there should be one charging station for every 40 spaces and so on up to 1,000 spaces. Therefore, if there were 1,000 parking spaces, there would be 25 charging stations. Once these figures are exceeded, there would be one charging station for every 100 spaces or fraction thereof.
  • If the car park belongs to the General State Administration or to the public bodies that depend on it, there must be one charging station for every 20 spaces or fraction thereof. For a car park with 500 or more spaces, there will have to be an additional station for every 100 spaces or fraction thereof. 

 

Are there any exceptions to mandatory charging stations in car parks?

Historical buildings or buildings with architectural value belong to a kind of grey area. The regulation does not exempt them from providing charging stations, but it does allow for the possibility of not installing them.

For example, it leaves the decision in the hands of the competent heritage authority, which is usually a regional body. The authority may determine that charging stations do not need to be installed if they significantly alter the character or appearance of these buildings.

This is important because there are many historical buildings for public use that attract a lot of traffic. This includes monuments but also buildings that have been adapted for other uses: schools, health centres, commercial facilities, hotels, government offices, etc.

Drivers of plug-in vehicles are therefore advised to check before going to a historical building or a building with architectural value.  Even though many of them have large car parks, they might not have an electric car charging station.

 

The legal deadlines for installing mandatory charging stations

Royal Decree-Law 29/2021 set out a time frame for the installation of charging infrastructures in different places, including petrol stations. In the case of car parks, the date set was 1 January 2023.

Even so, there is still a long way to go. However, it does seem clear that it is going to get easier to find a place to charge your electric vehicle. In addition, these legal obligations should make it easier for more users to buy an electric car. This will generate a greater demand for this type of infrastructure, which could lead to the figures set by current obligations being comfortably exceeded over time.

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