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17 Feb 21

OEMs campaign for massive increase in EV chargers for fleets

Vehicle manufacturers and environmentalists have joined forces to issue a powerful call for the European Commission to force governments to support last-mile delivery fleets, ride hailing operators and taxi companies in their efforts to run zero emission vehicles.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), green NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) and the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) have written to key European commissioners, demanding mandatory targets for the number of public EV charge points and hydrogen refueling stations across the European Union.

1 million chargepoints by 2024

The unlikely allies want to see this year’s revision of the EU-wide Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID) to require 1 million public charging points across the bloc in 2024, rising to 3 million by 2029, as well as 1,000 hydrogen stations by 2030.

They argue that setting bold, legally-enforceable targets for the number of public charge points will reassure consumers that public charging infrastructure will keep pace with the fast-growing demand for EVs.

Charging network more important than EV subsidies

In the UK, the independent think tank Policy Exchange calculates that the country needs to install chargepoints five times faster than the current rate if it is to keep pace with the demand from EV drivers. As of January 2021, the UK had 20,775 public charging devices, but this total will need to rise to 400,000 by 2030, the UK’s deadline for a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars, according to Policy Exchange. It argues that government grants and subsidies for the purchase of new EVs would be better spent on investing in the charging network. Studies in Norway and the US, for example, have found that investment in EV chargepoints increased EV sales twice as much as purchase subsidies for EVs, although the impact declines as more chargepoints are installed.

Early adopters of battery-powered cars typically charge at home, but for the technology to replace internal combustion engines, charging solutions will have to become available for drivers who do not have a garage or off-street parking where they can install a domestic charger and for those who make longer daily journeys.

EV charging as easy as filling with diesel

The ACEA, T&E and BEUC argue that drivers must find it as easy to charge an electric car as to fuel an ICE vehicle, and have called on the European commissioners for transport, the internal market and energy, to revise the AFID and introduce a regulation that would stipulate that the number of publicly accessible chargers should increase in line with the number of EVs on the road.

Moreover, to support last mile delivery fleets, ride-hailing firms, taxis, and electric vehicle drivers covering high daily distances, the three groups want to see additional targets for fast and ultra-fast public chargers in urban areas, as well as at least one ultra-fast (>150 kW) recharging site every 50 km on the TEN-T Core road network and at least one ultra-fast charging site (>150 kW) every 100 km along the TEN-T Comprehensive road network.

Oliver Zipse, ACEA president and CEO of BMW, said: “European automakers are driving the transition to e-mobility and are literally outperforming each other in launching new electric vehicles. But the success of this huge effort is seriously threatened by the delayed installation of charging infrastructure in the EU. The EU Commission quickly needs to take action and set binding targets for the ramp-up of charging infrastructure in the member states. Otherwise, even the current reduction targets in fighting climate change are at risk.”

He also wants to see a greater focus on workplace and home charging.

Uneven EV charging network

The distribution of public electric charge points is extremely uneven across Europe, with 75% of the bloc’s 200,000 chargers located in just four countries, France, Germany, Netherlands and the UK; while countries such as Greece, Bulgaria and Lithuania have only a few hundred each, according to the ACEA. This presents significant difficulties for multi-national fleets that want to transition internationally to a zero emission policy.

William Todts, executive director at T&E, said: “To speed up the transition [to electric] we need ubiquitous and easy charging not just in Norway and the Netherlands but all across Europe. EV charging targets per country are a great way to make that happen and the Commission should stop dragging its feet over this.”

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Jonathan Manning