On 3 March 2021 the European Alternative Fuels Observatory (EAFO) published a policy paper titled “On the Electrification path: Europe’s progress towards clean transportation”.
The European Green Deal – Europe’s central key roadmap to achieving carbon-neutrality by 2050 – outlines that by 2025, 1 million public charge points will be needed to power the anticipated 13 million zero and low-emission vehicles within the European Union. In order to accelerate the transition to electric cars, significant efforts will be needed by the European Union, Member States, as well as regional and local governments.
The policy paper was developed at the request of the European Commission, as part of the EAFO 2.0 contract. It highlights the current uptake of electric passenger cars – battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – and the rollout of the relevant public recharging infrastructure network. In addition, it provides recommendations for future policy making at European Union level.
Key findings from this study include:
- The European electric passenger car market and recharging infrastructure is concentrated in few markets. As such, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands accounted for a combined share of 70% of Europe’s electric passenger car fleet at the end of 2020. In addition, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden led the way in new registrations making up 70% of total BEV and PHEV passenger car registrations by 2020. The Netherlands had the largest number of public charge points followed by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Norway, with these 5 markets making up 73% of public charge points available in Europe.
- 2020 was a breakthrough year for the electric passenger car market in most European markets. Overall, the share of electric vehicles in the European fleet increased from 3.6% in 2019, reaching 11.0% in 2020. With a few exceptions, European countries recorded higher total electric passenger car registrations in 2020 than the previous year. Slovakia, Greece, and the Czech Republic experienced the highest growth rates between 2019 and 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a significant drop in electric car registrations in April 2020, registrations continued an upward trend in May 2020. The study also shows that tighter CO2 emission performance standards have successfully boosted the European electric passenger car market in 2020.
- There is no silver bullet for the deployment of the public recharging infrastructure network. On a national level, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the number of public recharging points needed. As such, the number of public recharging points per electric vehicle in 2020 varied significantly, ranging from 1:3 in Croatia, Latvia, and Lichtenstein to 1:39 in Iceland. This highly diverged from the ratio of 1:10 suggested by the European Commission’s 2014 Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID). The analysis suggests that high electric vehicle uptake can be achieved through tailored national deployment strategies beyond policies addressing cost and awareness. In addition, the amount of home and workplace charging available has a direct effect on the number of publicly available recharging points needed.