The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is demanding the EU install more electric vehicle charging stations in a letter co-signed with Transport & Environment (T&E) and the European Consumer Organization (BEUC). This marks the hundredth time (rough estimate) an auto lobbying entity has tried to pressure the government into spending a fortune to drastically alter the European infrastructure to support the planned glut of EVs.
But it might be a fair request. Regulatory actions have effectively forced the industry into a corner and it now seems giddy at the prospect of an electrified world. The only real downside is that the charging infrastructure and power grids aren’t ready. ACEA estimates that the EU will need to build one million public charging points by 2024, with hopes of seeing three million installed before 2030.
Let’s see how feasible that is before it’s tried in our neck of the woods.
Automakers are convinced they’ll need a robust grid to mainstream EVs inside of Europe and have been working on supplying charging networks of their own. But the latest counts have the total number of public charging stations inside of the EU just shy of 250,000 units. Completing another 750,000 in four years would be a monumental undertaking, though allegedly worth it from the perspective of the ACEA. The group claimed that setting lofty targets would result in the creation of countless construction jobs and allow the European Union to adhere to its climate goals.
“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,” wrote ACEA President and BMW CEO Oliver Zipse. “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. In addition to public charging infrastructure, we also need to put a stronger focus on workplace and home charging.”
Unwilling to risk a scenario where most people continue to prefer liquid-fueled alternatives, the ACEA (which represents the largest automakers operating in Europe) really wants the EU to solidify its commitments here while also chucking on a few hydrogen stations for good measure. It’s also undoubtedly hoping that it will also foot a sizable portion of the bill.
Fortunately for them, practically all member states have issued some kind of promise toward installing more stations or further subsidizing the assembly and sale of EVs. For example, German has vowed to have a million charging points within its borders by 2030, plans to spend $4.8 billion on home charging solutions, and doubled incentives for electric cars over the summer. But it’s not abundantly clear that its electrical grid could handle an EV dominant landscape in the current format.
Energy prices have gotten brutally high in Germany ever since it started trying to tamp down coal and nuclear power for greener, albeit less reliable sources, like wind and solar. All manner of remedies have been proposed, including a few that had to be recalled. Last month, Germany’s Economics Minister Peter Altmaier presented a draft law that would allow electric utilities to temporarily suspend power for charging electric cars “when there is once again too little electricity available.”
As you might imagine, cutting off people’s electricity wasn’t an incredibly popular idea. Despite being just one example of the trouble the EU will have to contend with, it showcases the general issue in advancing these types of policies. It’s hard to give consumers what they want and still adhere to the kind of social engineering necessary for a carbon-neutral lifestyle. But people aren’t going to rush out and buy EVs if there’s no way of charging them — whether that’s due to a lack of charging points or because the electric company might randomly shut down the tap.[Image: nrqemi/Shutterstock]