While the electric car market is growing at a good pace and the forecast for 2022 is even more promising, the same is not happening with one of the critical points for its definitive expansion: the network of charging stations.
New car sales have suffered a significant setback in recent years. The shortage of microchips and the increase of transoceanic transport prices have caused a crisis from which the automotive sector has not yet come out.
However, sales of electric cars continue to grow at a good pace. One in five new vehicles marketed in the European Union is an electric car. Despite this, not everything is good news in the electrified sector.
We have already warned of the problem on several occasions. Still, a report by the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) insists that the real problem facing the electric car in its quest to dominate the mobility of the future is growing more and more.
"The strong performance of electric cars is very welcome news," said ACEA Chairman and CEO of the BMW Group, Oliver Zipse. "However, we cannot forget that this is still a rather fragile market, highly dependent on support measures such as purchase incentives and, above all, the wide availability of charging infrastructure."
And it is precisely there where Europe, its administrations, and its industry are failing since the rate of growth of the recharging network is considerably slower than that of the mobile fleet of zero-emission vehicles.
"Electric car sales increased more than ten times between 2017 and 2021, while the number of public charging stations in the European Union grew less than 2.5 times during the same period," Zipse said. "If this situation is not addressed urgently by introducing ambitious targets for all EU Member States, we will hit a roadblock very soon."
Currently, having an electric car requires having a recharging point at home; otherwise, it is impossible to use it with the certainty that there will be a public point available.
As a result of all this, ACEA asks the European Parliament and national governments to "significantly strengthen the original proposal of the European Commission on the AFIR (Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation), to ensure that Europe builds a network sufficiently dense charging and refueling infrastructure.
According to Ey and Eurelectric, Europe currently has 374,000 public charging stations, two-thirds of which are concentrated in just five nations: the Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, some European countries do not even reach a charger for every 100 km of road, and this polarization between economies risks destabilizing electrification.
To keep up with demand, "Europe needs to add half a million public chargers to the grid annually until 2030 and a million a year after that," EY global energy and resources leader Serge Colle told Reuters.
But construction of public charging infrastructure today "faces massive delays" due to planning and permitting issues, Eurelectric Secretary General Kristian Ruby said. "We are sending a wake-up call to politicians at all levels that ambition requires permission," Ruby said. "If we want to pursue this (charging infrastructure) ambition, then we need permission to operate. "