Electric cars lack progress on charging infrastructure, a challenge for EU and industry players
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is urgently calling for a comprehensive plan to enable the transition to zero-emission mobility in Europe. This should include a major ramp-up of charging and refuelling infrastructure, as well as meaningful purchase incentives to stimulate sales, helping to achieve the goals set by the EU.
ACEA launched the first edition of its annual report on the key “enabling factors” for stronger consumer acceptance of electric and other alternatively-powered cars in the EU. If the extremely ambitious 2025 and 2030 CO2 targets set by the EU are to be achieved, sales of such vehicles will have to pick up rapidly.
The aim of ACEA’s report is therefore to track progress on the availability of infrastructure and incentives (such as bonus payments and premiums) ahead of the “mid-term review” of the CO2 targets, to be conducted by the European Commission in 2023.
“Our industry is eager to move as fast as possible towards zero-emission mobility. But this transition is a shared responsibility,” underlined Carlos Tavares, ACEA President and Chairman of the Board of PSA Group. “It requires a 360 degrees approach.”
Tavares continues: “From our side, we are offering an ever-growing choice of alternatively-powered cars to our customers. In parallel, governments across the EU need to match the increasing pace at which we are launching these cars by dramatically stepping up investments in infrastructure. Moreover, they also have to put in place sustainable purchase incentives that are consistent across the EU.”
ACEA’s 2019 progress report shows that in 2018 there were less than 145,000 charging points for electrically chargeable vehicles (ECVs) available throughout the entire European Union. Although this is three times more than five years ago, it still falls far short of the minimum 2.8 million charging points that will be required by 2030, which translates into a 20-fold increase in the next decade.
But it is not only the overall lack of infrastructure that poses a problem, it is also the huge imbalance in its distribution across the EU. Indeed, four countries covering roughly one quarter of the EU’s total surface area – the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the UK – account for more than 75 percent of all ECV charging points in the EU, according to the latest ACEA’s analysis.
In addition, there is a clear link between the market uptake of ECVs and the number of charging points per 100km of road: almost all EU countries with less than one charging point per 100 km of road also have an ECV market share of under one percent.
Another major issue is affordability. The new ACEA data shows that the market uptake of electrically chargeable vehicles is also directly correlated to a country’s standard of living. All EU member states with an ECV market share that is less than one percent have a GDP per capita below 29,000 Euro. That includes not only many countries in Central and Eastern Europe, but also Greece, Italy and Spain.
“We need to safeguard people’s right to mobility, regardless of where they live or their financial means,” concluded Carlos Tavares. “Mobility must be clean, safe, and affordable.”
Key findings of ACEA report
- Market uptake of alternatively powered cars
– Two percent of all cars sold in 2018 were electrically chargeable (+1.4 percentage points since 2014).
– 3.8 percent of new passenger cars in the EU were hybrid electric last year (+2.4 percentage points over the last five years).
– 0.4 percent of all cars sold in 2018 were natural gas-powered (-0.4 percentage points since 2014).
– Fuel cell vehicles currently account for a negligible share of total EU car sales.
- CO2 emissions of new passenger cars
– In 2017, petrol cars became the most sold type in the EU for the first time since 2009.
– 2017 also marked the first increase (+0.3 percent) in CO2 from new cars since records began.
– 2018 saw an even bigger drop in diesel sales, and a stronger surge in demand for petrol, resulting in a 1.8 percent increase of new-car CO2 emissions.
– The market uptake of electrically chargeable vehicles (ECVs) is directly correlated to a country’s GDP per capita, showing that affordability is a major barrier to consumers.
– All countries with an ECV market share of less than one percent have a GDP below 29,000 Euro, including EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe and also Spain, Italy ,and Greece.
– An ECV share of above 3.5 percent only occurs in countries with a GDP of more than 42,000 Euro.
– Only 12 EU countries offer bonus payments or premiums to buyers of ECVs. These purchase incentives, and especially their monetary value, differ greatly across the European Union.
– If we expand the scope to also include tax exemptions and reductions (related to acquisition and ownership), four member states do not offer any tax benefits or incentives for ECVs at all.
- Infrastructure availability
– Although there has been a strong growth in the deployment of ECV infrastructure, the total number of charging points available across the EU (144,000) falls far short of what is required.
– According to conservative estimates by the European Commission, at least 2.8 million charging points will be needed by 2030. That is a 20-fold increase within the next 12 years.
– Four countries covering 27 percent of the EU’s total surface area – the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK – account for 76 percent of all ECV charging points in the EU.
– Almost all EU member states with less than one charging point per 100 km of road have an ECV market share of less than one percent.
– There were just 47 hydrogen filling stations available across 11 EU countries in 2018.
– 17 member states did not have a single hydrogen filling station.
– There are some 3,400 natural gas filling stations in the EU, up 17.5 percent since 2014.
– Two-thirds of these filling points are concentrated in two countries (Italy and Germany).
Access to electric vehicle chargers must be guaranteed, urge automakers, electricity sector, NGO
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), Eurelectric and Transport & Environment (T&E) are calling on the European institutions to facilitate a rapid roll-out of smart charging infrastructure for electrically chargeable vehicles. This is a unique collaboration as it marks the first time that the EU auto industry, electricity sector and the green group have joined forces to push for a common goal.
E-mobility has a crucial role to play in decarbonising road transport and meeting Europe’s climate objective. The three associations are urging policy makers to guarantee the “right to plug” to all those who use an electric vehicle, so that everyone across Europe can get access to charging which should be as simple as refuelling today.
This will require a massive deployment of strategically located “smart charging” infrastructure all across the EU. Smart infrastructure will enable drivers to charge without severely affecting or overloading Europe’s electricity grids. It provides clear benefits to customers, the power system, the automobile industry, and society at large, the associations believe.
ACEA, Eurelectric and T&E signed this joint call to action at ACEA’s “Leading the mobility transformation” Summit in Brussels. On this occasion, the auto and electricity industries confirmed their commitment to making more focused investments in both vehicle technology and smart charging solutions.
Whether it is urban or motorway public charging, all barriers to infrastructure deployment and e-mobility growth must be removed. In order to make charging at home, work and on motorways easy and accessible for all drivers, policymakers should reform and strengthen key legislation, such as the soon to be revised EU alternative fuels infrastructure law (AFID) and the EU buildings directive (EPBD). Existing EU funding instruments must also be better leveraged to speed up the roll-out of infrastructure, and other financial instruments should be targeted to unlock new solutions to improve coverage across all member states.
“The EU auto industry wants to work with all stakeholders to make zero-emission mobility a reality,” stated ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert. “To convince more customers to make the switch to electric vehicles, we have to remove the stress associated with recharging. This means that everyone must have the option to recharge their vehicle easily, no matter where they live or where they want to travel to.”
“The race to the future is on. We must remove all barriers and make the shift to electric mobility as easy and convenient as possible. Every consumer should have a ‘right-to-plug’ – and the roll-out of public charging points must accelerate. By 2025, we need 1.2 million public charging points in Europe,” said Kristian Ruby, Secretary General of Eurelectric.
Julia Poliscanova, Clean Vehicles Director at T&E said: “A rapid shift to electric cars powered by clean electricity is essential if we want to halt dangerous global warming. Now that carmakers are preparing a wave of new and affordable electric models, we need to ensure the fast and easy deployment of charging points at home, at work and on the road so that charging an electric car becomes a completely hassle-free experience for citizens across the EU.”
Electric car sales not taking off in lower-income EU countries
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has published new data highlighting the correlation between the affordability of electric cars and their market uptake. This ACEA analysis compares national data on the sales of electrically chargeable vehicles (ECVs) with GDP per capita in the EU member states for the full-year 2018.
The new ACEA data shows that all countries with an ECV market share of less than one percent – or half of all EU member states – have a GDP per capita below 29,000 Euro. This is the case in several southern countries – such as Spain, Italy, and Greece – as well as in Central and Eastern European countries, like Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Slovakia.
In Latvia, for instance, only 93 electric cars were sold last year. Poland has the lowest uptake of electric cars in the EU, with an ECV market share of just 0.2 percent. By contrast, an ECV share above 3.5 percent only occurs in countries with a GDP of more than 42,000 Euro, like Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
The EU institutions recently approved the new CO2 regulation for passenger cars, setting reduction targets of -15 percent and -37.5 percent for the years 2025 and 2030 respectively. These targets will follow on from the target of 95g CO2/km for the year 2021, set in 2013.
Sales of electric and other alternatively powered cars will have to pick up strongly if these CO2 targets are to be achieved. Unfortunately, however, in 2018 only two percent of all new passenger cars registered throughout the EU were electrically chargeable.
“Besides investing in charging infrastructure, governments across the EU need to put in place meaningful and sustainable incentives in order to encourage more consumers to make the switch to electric,” explained ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert at a press conference in Barcelona.
“People throughout the EU should be able to consider purchasing an electric vehicle – no matter which country they live in – north or south, east or west. The affordability of the latest low- and zero-emission technologies needs to be addressed by governments as a matter of priority.”
Although fiscal measures to stimulate electric car sales are available in nearly all EU states, the nature and monetary value of these benefits varies widely. Indeed, while most countries grant simple tax reductions or exemptions for electric cars, only 12 EU member states offer premiums or bonus payments to buyers of these vehicles.
EU should take global lead in connected and automated driving, urge automotive, telecom sectors
The European Automotive and Telecoms Alliance (EATA) urges policy makers to step up efforts in order to ensure that the EU takes the global lead in connected and automated mobility.
As global players launch new products and services in the automotive and transport sectors, EATA calls for a new, digitally driven mobility ecosystem to be created in the EU. Safer and cleaner cars moving smoothly across Europe, less congested cities, increased productivity in the logistics sector, and self-driving vehicles making lives easier are just some of the things we can expect.
In this context, EATA has just launched its manifesto to accelerate the deployment of connected and automated mobility (CAM) in Europe. In the manifesto, four enabling principles for creating the right policy environment are central:
- Enable a clear framework aimed at fostering investment and innovation;
- Avoid fragmentation through coordination of policy initiatives;
- Recognise that technology neutrality is critical to the development of connected and automated mobility;
- Accelerate cooperation on the global stage.
Similarly, it will also be of particular importance to ensure that Europe develops a globally competitive digital infrastructure, which is a key enabler of CAM.
“The regulatory environment today is very different from the past, when policies were seen in a more isolated way. That is, automotive from a technical, product regulation point of view and telecoms from a service point of view,” explained Erik Jonnaert, EATA Chairman and Secretary General of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). “We are calling upon the next European Commission and Parliament to put in place a coordinated and consistent legal framework to remove remaining legal and regulatory barriers to CAM.”
Afke Schaart, EATA Vice-Chairman and Vice President & Head of Europe at the GSMA (representing mobile operators worldwide and the broader mobile ecosystem) added: “With the manifesto that we present, we do not just formulate our common vision on the deployment of connected and automated driving in Europe. It is also an expression of unprecedented collaboration between the two industries with the aim to bring Europe’s transport system to a higher – and safer – level in the upcoming years.”
Embracing these principles will be particularly important from a societal viewpoint, as connected and automated mobility can significantly contribute to creating new growth opportunities for Europe and help the EU economy transition to a more environmentally sustainable model.
EATA is a unique organisation, as it is the only European platform to bring together key players from the auto and telecoms sectors, comprising 32 companies as members and six founding associations. Its aim is to promote a horizontal, cross-industry understanding of the policy and regulatory enablers for CAM.
(From the print edition)