Features
30 Jun 21

Charging rollout risks dividing Europe, ACEA warns

“Completely unbalanced”: that’s how ACEA, the association of Europe’s car manufacturers, describes the spread of publicly available charging points across the EU. Strong words, reflecting a major concern: that Europe could soon again be a divided continent – between countries where EVs are the rule, and those where they are the exception. 

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New analysis by ACEA shows that 70% of all EV charging stations in the EU are concentrated in just three countries: the Netherlands (pictured; 66,665 charging points), France (45,751), and Germany (44,538). 

Extreme example
Yet those countries make up just 23% of the EU’s total area. Conversely, the remaining 30% of EV charging infrastructure is spread out over 77% of the EU’s territory.

One extreme example: Romania, six times the size of the Netherlands, has no more than 493 charging points in the entire country. That’s just 0.2% of the EU total. Other examples or larger countries with minimal charging infrastructure include Poland (0.8%) and Spain (3.3%). 

ACEA points out that the two-speed rollout of EV infrastructure in the EU clearly reflects the dividing line between the Union’s richer member states in the west and the poorer ones in the east and south. But the gap is not just apparent between countries on either side of the spectrum. 

Bottom-ranked countries
Germany is number three in the infrastructure ranking, with 19.9% of the total number of charging points in the EU. Yet fourth-placed Italy has just 13,073 points, or 5.8% of the total - an indication of the gap between the top three and the rest of the EU. Sweden takes fifth place, with 10,370 points (4.6%).

The EU’s five bottom-ranked countries are Cyprus (70 charging points), Malta (96), Lithuania (174), Bulgaria (194), and Greece (275). Together, that’s less than 0.4% of the EU’s total.

“This patchy EU rollout in of both charging and refueling infrastructure for alternatively-powered cars has been evident since (we) started (our) annual analysis in 2018,” points out ACEA – warning that the gap doesn’t appear to be closing.

Binding targets
To improve the situation, ACEA calls on the European Commission (EC), which is about to review the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Directive (AFID) in July, to establish binding targets per member state. And this not just for EV charging points, but also for hydrogen stations. 

The EC has calculated that a further 6 million publicly available charging points will be needed to decrease CO2 emissions from cars by 50% by 2030. Today, the figure stands at 225, 000 such points across the EU – so we would need a staggering 27-fold increase in less than a decade. 

“Anyone who wants to buy an EV depends on a reliable charging infrastructure – whether at home, at work or on the road,” says Eric-Mark Huitema, ACEA Director-General. “The time has come for governments across Europe to pick up speed in the race to greener mobility.”

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs