In the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions pathway, 60% of all new car sales are electric by 2030. This was just 9% in 2021, which was already a tripling of EV stock compared to 2018. The question is, can the charging infrastructure follow suit?
The 2014 Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Directive recommended that EU member states reach 10 electric light-duty vehicles per public charger by 2020. In 2021, the EU’s average EV to charger ratio was 14. Proposed new EU legislation (the Alternative Fuelling Infrastructure Regulation [AFIR]) would mandate 1 kW of publicly available charger per BEV, which we were just above last year. The numbers vary across countries with Norway and the Netherlands generally having a good ratio, while Germany falls behind with 25 charge points per EV and Poland falling behind in capacity with 2.5KW of charging per EV.
Roland van der Put, Head of Charging Technology, Fastned talks about the importance of having goals that focus on capacity rather than number of charge points, as fast charging stations fill a great need for en-route charging and their value is often not reflected in regulatory ambitions. He also talks about the importance of software solutions to get the most out of hardware. "A lot of the focus is currently on getting more chargers into the ground, getting more capacity, but we can also make steps by using this capacity more efficiently, and by that I mean both the chargers and the grid," he says.
According to Gert-Jan Geerinckx, Head of Europe Power Business Development at NIO, "what you see is that we’re all struggling to get the basics in place: getting transformers, getting grid connections. Those things very often take a very long time and we’re talking high power. So, I think there’s a place for government and energy companies to look into solving those things but at the same time you need the guys in the cargo pants to do the real work." When it comes to battery swapping - NIO's unique selling proposition – Geerinckx adds: "When you come to end-of-life, we have a responsibility towards ourselves but also the community to make sure the batteries have the longest possible life. At the end of the day, it's a “battery as a service”- the user doesn’t own the battery, they pay a monthly fee, so it's in our interest to keep the battery at best health. If you keep a battery in a battery hotel it's constantly at ideal temperature, it's constantly monitored."
Tanya Sinclair, Senior Director of Policy in Europe at ChargePoint, says that there is still a demographic in Europe that continues to resist buying electric vehicles – whether private driver, taxi driver or fleet driver. "To that I would say you won’t have a choice, whether it is 2035 or sooner, these vehicles are going to be phased out. I think what we need to do in the interim is, not force anyone into these vehicles, but prove there is no aspect of compromise, whether it is perceived or real," she says.
Vincent Schacher, Electric Mobility and Energy Services Expert, believes that pricing for EV charging is an interesting question for governments. "How much do they want to protect the EV charging piece: public charging, private charging? This one I am curious to see where the needle lands. So that is one I would see as one interesting challenge that European governments will do in 2023 after the big scare of the winter passes."