As oil prices soar and governments crack down on combustion engines to curb global warming, more and more drivers are considering switching to an electric vehicle (EV).
For the first time, more than half of car buyers surveyed worldwide want their next purchase to be an electric or hybrid model, according to the survey. The latest Ernst & Young Mobility Consumer Index.
For many living in the European Union, switching to electricity may soon become an obligation as the EU approaches ban on sales of new gasoline or diesel cars from 2035.
But for now, as the summer holidays approach, new and potential owners may still be nervous when it comes to taking long trips in an EV, with a lingering fear of running out of power before reaching an EV station. loading.
According to Electric vehicle databasethe average battery range of EVs currently sits at a comfortable 200 miles, enough to alleviate so-called range anxiety when it comes to everyday use.
But cross-border car travel in Europe would require recharges along the way, and infrastructure across the continent remains patchy in many areas.
Not only are charging stations very unevenly distributed, but providers and payment systems also differ.
Here are three things you need to know about Europe’s electric vehicle charging landscape.
1. Europe’s EV charging infrastructure is very uneven
The EU has more than 330,000 publicly accessible charging points, and that number is growing, but their uneven deployment means that “traveling across the EU in electric vehicles is not easy”. European Court of Auditors warns in report last year.
Just three countries – Germany, France and the Netherlands – account for 69 percent of all charging points across the EU, while 10 European countries don’t have a single charger per 100 km of road.
The European Commission has a target of reaching 1 million charging points by 2025, but the ECA report warned that the target risks being missed “if deployment continues to follow current trends”.
It is estimated that around 150,000 new points would be needed each year – nearly 3,000 a week – to close the gap.
There are also disparities within countries, with cities much better covered than rural areas.
This is especially the case in Eastern Europe.
Half of Slovakia’s EVs, for example, are registered in the capital Bratislava, a city that is also home to a third of the country’s charging points, said Aaron Fishbone, director of public policy at GreenWay, which sells and operates chargers in Slovakia and Poland. .
“It serves the vast majority of users the vast majority of the time. But it is not suitable for long-distance travel and people who live in villages,” Fishbone, who also leads communications for trade group ChargeUp Europe, told Euronews Next.
Adding to the confusion are dozens of charging station operators across Europe, alongside Tesla’s proprietary network, which is just starting to open up to non-Tesla vehicles.
Many billing operators work with subscriptions, but non-members can pay roaming fees to use other networks.
2. There are apps and maps for navigating the jungle from charging stations
Fortunately, there are dedicated apps that help drivers navigate this jungle and map out their journey, like PlugShare and Chargemap.
Chargemap’s CEO likens the service to a “Charging Station TripAdvisor” where users can rate charging points and flag those in need of maintenance.
With a card that costs just under €20 a month, Chargemap users can access over 600 carriers (including Ionity, Fastned, EVBox Allego and New Motion) and around 230,000 charging points across Europe.
These billing operators all have different fees, but the unique badge makes it easy to track the invoices incurred for each top-up, and you don’t have to juggle subscriptions.
It can also help companies control the costs incurred by their electric fleets. Chargemap already has about 400 business customers who use their badges as company fuel cards.
Chargemap is well placed to describe how uneven Europe’s charging infrastructure is.
“I would say it goes from the Nordic countries, which are very well equipped, to the southern countries, which are much less equipped,” Chargemap CEO Yoann Nussbaumer told Euronews Next.
“So if you’re on holiday to Spain or Portugal, it’s going to be a little tricky,” he said, advising EV drivers to prepare their trip carefully.
3. The charging station landscape in Europe is rapidly changing
There are reasons to be optimistic, however. The market is starting to consolidate, and as more EVs hit the roads, more charging stations are popping up and infrastructure investment pays off faster.
One in 11 new cars sold in the EU in 2021 was fully electric, up 63% from 2020, according to data of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).
However, according to ChargeUp Europe, the number of charging points accessible to the public alone has increased sixfold since 2015. These are the chargers found on motorways, car parks or in supermarkets and shopping centres.
In fact, these public stations only represent around 15% of the total number of charging points in the EU.
The vast majority of EV charging takes place in private residential or commercial buildings, and this is where ChargeUp Europe sees the greatest opportunity for growth.
With electricity so ubiquitous across the EU, the electric vehicle charging industry would like to see regulatory barriers torn down so that charging points can be installed much more easily in more places, including older European neighborhoods with rules. strict urban planning and fire codes.
“So you top up at home, you top up at the office,” Fishbone said.
Recharging more often on the go, he added, would help “balance” the economics of charging EVs, as it is generally cheaper to recharge an EV overnight at home or during the day at the office than at public charging stations. ultra-fast charging.
The “right mix”, he suggested, would be to recharge 75% of the time at low price, low power charging points and the remaining 25% on the go, on the most powerful and fastest chargers.
Looking ahead, smart charging will help owners figure out when is the best time to use the grid to recharge their car – and some vehicles are already able to re-inject energy into the grid.
For now, industry players disagree with the notion that charging an EV should be as simple as refueling a car.
“We took that metaphor out because it’s the old paradigm,” Fishbone said.
“No, it must be like recharging your phone or your laptop. It’s filling. You connect a little bit wherever you are.”