Insufficient support for electric vehicle charging infrastructure hampers uptake

A report recently published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that there is still serious underinvestment in electric vehicle recharging infrastructure across Europe, with only one in three EU member states providing incentives.

According to the EEA report, specific incentives for electric vehicle charging points were found in only 10 out of the EU28. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) cautions that investments need to be stepped up, as future reductions of CO2 emissions from cars and vans are strongly dependent on increased sales of electric and other alternatively-powered vehicles.

This will only happen with an EU-wide roll-out of a charging and refuelling infrastructure. As the EEA points out in its report: a sufficient charging infrastructure is required to give people the confidence that fully electric vehicles will reliably meet their travel needs and help reduce anxiety linked with possible limitations in range. In this respect, the Directive on Alternative Fuel Infrastructure (DAFI) set clear objectives for the 28 member states as far back as 2014. To date, however, the implementation of the DAFI by national governments has been poor.

Although electric vehicle sales have increased in line with global car sale growth in recent years, their overall market share remains low (1.4% of total EU car sales), growing by just 0.8% between 2014 and 2017.

Even though all manufacturers are expanding their portfolios of electric cars, we unfortunately see that market penetration of these vehicles is quite weak and patchy across the EU,” stated ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert. “Consumers looking for an alternative to diesel often opt for petrol or hybrid vehicles, but the large-scale switch to the EV is not yet taking place. This new EEA report confirms that a dense EU-wide charging infrastructure network is an absolute must if we want consumers throughout the EU to really embrace electric vehicles.”

Although the European Commission has acknowledged that the market uptake of alternatively-powered vehicles and infrastructure roll-out are intrinsically connected, its recent proposal on post-2021 CO2 targets for passenger cars and vans does not link the availability of charging infrastructure to the proposed CO2 objectives.

In order to reflect the reality of the market, ACEA believes that Europe’s long-term climate goals should be linked to future infrastructure availability and consumer acceptance.