Looking at a wider category of alternatively powered vehicles (APV’s), which lumps together pure Electric Vehicles (EV’s) and plug-in and non-plug-in hybrids, made up more than a half of the EU car market during the last quarter of 2022. With over 1.3m registered in total, it was the first time that APV’s overtook purely hydrocarbon-powered cars.
“The EU is the global front-runner in the adoption of EV’s,” according to a report last November by McKinsey, a consultant. The union’s member states are responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s EV production, and are large importers too. Carmakers looking ahead and early-adopting consumers could create a world-leading EV ecosystem, which could generate new jobs and speed up progress towards climate goals, according to McKinsey.
Not unsurprisingly, the largest stumbling block to an electric-car use, is the lack of charging infrastructure which has not keeping pace. According to European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), between 2016 and 2022 sales of electric cars grew almost three times faster than the number of charging-points. For electric vehicles to fully contribute to the EU’s ambitious climate goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, the EU will need to increase the number of public charging-points from around 300,000 to at least 3.4m and up to 6.8m by 2030, again according to McKinsey. Up to 14,000 public charging-points need to be installed per week until 2030, according to ACEA. The number is reportedly just 2,000 per week.
The EU will also need to ensure that charger infrastructure is more evenly spread out, harmonise payment systems, and to provide many more fast-charging points also for lorries. At the moment at least half of all EU charging-points are in the Netherlands (90,000) and Germany (60,000). A big country like Romania, which is six times larger than the Netherlands, only has 0.4% of all the EU’s charging-points.
The charging infrastructure is likely to remain problematical for the foreseeable future. In March the European Commission announced a new law aimed at overcoming the gaps in availability. It sets targets for electric-recharging and hydrogen-refuelling, such as a requirement that for each battery-powered car in an EU member state, a power output of at least 1.3 kilowatt (kw) must be provided by a publicly accessible charger. And for every 60km along the pan-European road network, a fast-recharging station with a total of at least 150kw of capacity should be installed from 2025 onwards.
Not convinced enough is being done at European level some carmakers, in response, have started building their own charging networks a while ago, led by Tesla. In January 2023 Mercedes announced it will put in place some 10,000 chargers worldwide by the end of the decade. Clearly there is a huge amount of work to do, if the EU are to meet their climate goals and that’s without moves to water down those aims by some countries in the EU.
(Source: The Economist / McKinsey)