17 Apr 18

EV subsidies lower CO2, but infrastructure fails, EEA finds

CO2 emissions from new passenger cars have dropped in several European countries where a range of tax breaks, subsidies and other incentives are used, reports the European Environmental Agency (EEA). The number of countries offering incentives for electric vehicles in particular, continues to grow. However, the same report concludes that emissions from trucks and buses are expected to increase further if new measures are not taken.

Positive CO2 evolution

Almost all European Union member states have adopted some kind of incentive, resulting in a steady decline of average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars. Across all EEA Member States, Norway had the lowest average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars sold in 2016. That makes perfect sense, as Norway is Europe’s number one EV adopter.
A study done by the EEA's European Topic Centre on Air Pollution and Climate Change Mitigation (ETC/ACM) found that consumers more readily purchased lower emitting cars where sufficiently large and targeted taxes and incentives were in place, with Norway and the Netherlands points in case.

Subsidies and infrastructure, please

The number of countries offering incentives promoting the use of hybrids and battery electric vehicles has jumped considerably from 2010 to 2016. All but one (Poland) have incentives for hybrid and battery electric vehicles.

The EEA warns that to foster the uptake of electric vehicles, more charging facilities are needed to reassure people on reliability and range limitation concerns on using battery-powered cars. Today, only 10 of the 28 EU member states offer incentives to install charging stations.

The same warning is expressed by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). They say 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 recharging and refuelling infrastructure, say ACEA. The EEA pointed out in its report: “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.”

European approach needed

Although sales of electrically-chargeable vehicles have increased in line with the overall growth of car sales 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, ACEA report.

“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 are not yet making the switch to electrically-chargeable cars on a large scale. This new EEA report confirms that a dense EU-wide network of recharging infrastructure is an absolute must if we want consumers throughout the EU to really embrace EVs.”
Picture copyright: VW, 2018
Authored by: Dieter Quartier