New study highlights lack of progress on infrastructure & incentives for alternatively-powered cars

Sep 11, 2019   OEM

At the start of a new EU political term, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is urgently calling for a comprehensive plan to enable the transition to zero-emission mobility in Europe.

This should include a major ramp-up of charging and refuelling infrastructure, as well as meaningful purchase incentives to stimulate sales, helping to achieve the goals set by the EU.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 11, ACEA launched the first edition of its annual report on the key ‘enabling factors’ for stronger consumer acceptance of electric and other alternatively-powered cars in the EU. If the extremely ambitious 2025 and 2030 CO2 targets set by the EU are to be achieved, sales of such vehicles will have to pick up rapidly.

The aim of ACEA’s report is therefore to track progress on the availability of infrastructure and incentives (such as bonus payments and premiums) ahead of the ‘mid-term review’ of the CO2 targets, to be conducted by the European Commission in 2023.

“Our industry is eager to move as fast as possible towards zero-emission mobility. But this transition is a shared responsibility,” underlined Carlos Tavares, ACEA President and Chairman of the Board of PSA Group. “It requires a 360 degrees approach.”

Tavares: “From our side, we are offering an ever-growing choice of alternatively-powered cars to our customers. In parallel, governments across the EU need to match the increasing pace at which we are launching these cars by dramatically stepping up investments in infrastructure. Moreover, they also have to put in place sustainable purchase incentives that are consistent across the EU.”

ACEA’s 2019 progress report shows that in 2018 there were less than 145,000 charging points for electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECVs) available throughout the entire European Union. Although this is three times more than five years ago, it still falls far short of the at least 2.8 million charging points that will be required by 2030, which translates into a 20-fold increase in the next decade.

But it is not only the overall lack of infrastructure that poses a problem, it is also the huge imbalance in its distribution across the EU. Indeed, four countries covering roughly one quarter of the EU’s total surface area – the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK – account for more than 75% of all ECV charging points in the EU, according to the latest ACEA’s analysis.

In addition, there is a clear link between the market uptake of ECVs and the number of charging points per 100km of road: almost all EU countries with less than 1 charging point per 100 km of road also have an ECV market share of under 1%.

Another major issue is affordability. The new ACEA data shows that the market uptake of electrically-chargeable vehicles is also directly correlated to a country’s standard of living. All EU member states with an ECV market share that is less than 1% have a GDP per capita below €29,000. That includes many countries in Central and Eastern Europe, but also Greece, Italy and Spain.

“We need to safeguard people’s right to mobility, regardless of where they live or their financial means,” concluded Carlos Tavares. “Mobility must be clean, safe and affordable.”

Key findings of ACEA report

1. Market uptake of alternatively-powered cars

2% of all cars sold in 2018 were electrically-chargeable (+1.4 percentage points since 2014).
3.8% of new passenger cars in the EU were hybrid electric last year (+2.4 percentage points over the last five years).
0.4% of all cars sold in 2018 were natural gas-powered (-0.4 percentage points since 2014).
Fuel cell vehicles currently account for a negligible share of total EU car sales.

2. CO2 emissions of new passenger cars

In 2017, petrol cars became the most sold type in the EU for the first time since 2009.
2017 also marked the first increase (+0.3%) in CO2 from new cars since records began.
2018 saw an even bigger drop in diesel sales, and a stronger surge in demand for petrol, resulting in a 1.8% increase of new-car CO2 emissions.

3. Affordability

The market uptake of electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECVs) is directly correlated to a country's GDP per capita, showing that affordability is a major barrier to consumers.
All countries with an ECV market share of less than 1% have a GDP below €29,000, including EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe, but also Spain, Italy and Greece.
An ECV share of above 3.5% only occurs in countries with a GDP of more than €42,000.
Only 12 EU countries offer bonus payments or premiums to buyers of ECVs. These purchase incentives, and especially their monetary value, differ greatly across the European Union.
If we expand the scope to also include tax exemptions and reductions (ie related to acquisition and ownership), four member states do not offer any tax benefits or incentives for ECVs at all.

4. Infrastructure availability

Although there has been a strong growth in the deployment of ECV infrastructure, the total number of charging points available across the EU (144,000) falls far short of what is required.
According to conservative estimates by the European Commission, at least 2.8 million charging points will be needed by 2030. That is a 20-fold increase within the next 12 years.

  • Four countries covering 27% of the EU’s total surface area – the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK – account for 76% of all ECV charging points in the EU.
  • Almost all EU member states with less than 1 charging point per 100 km of road have an ECV market share of under 1%.
  • There were just 47 hydrogen filling stations available across 11 EU countries in 2018.
  • 17 member states did not have a single hydrogen filling station.
  • There are some 3,400 natural gas filling stations in the EU, up 17.5% since 2014.
  • Two-thirds of these filling points are concentrated in two countries (Italy and Germany).

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