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Lack of charging points threatens surging electric vehicle sales in the EU

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The available charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EV) in the EU still falls far below what is needed amid surging demand, according to a new report by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

In its annual study which tracks progress on the availability of EV charging points, ACEA found that while EV sales in the EU increased by 110 per cent over the past three years, the number of charging points grew by just 58 per cent (to under 200,000).

“This is potentially very dangerous, as we could soon reach a point where growth of electric vehicle uptake stalls if consumers conclude there are simply not enough charging points where they need to travel, or that they have to queue too long for a fast charger,” ACEA director general Eric-Mark Huitema warned.

The analysis also reveals that just 1 in 7 charging points in the EU is a fast charger while normal points account for the vast majority.

Furthermore, many of the charging points that are included in EU statistics are common-or-garden, low-capacity power sockets that are not suitable for charging vehicles at an acceptable speed, such as ordinary power outlets in garages.

The existing infrastructure was also found to be unevenly distributed throughout the EU with the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK alone accounting for more than 75 per cent of all electric charging points.

The country with the most infrastructure, the Netherlands, has over 1,000 times more charging points than the country with the least infrastructure (Cyprus, with 38 charging points).

ACEA wants the European Commission to fast-track the review of the EU Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive as part of its Covid-19 recovery plan and include binding deployment targets for charging infrastructure for member states.

“With Europe’s higher climate ambitions in mind, there is now an even greater urgency to upgrade the infrastructure requirements for all alternative vehicles,” Huitema added.

The coronavirus pandemic has sent overall car sales tumbling this year but battery and plug-in hybrid models have bucked the trend with increased sales.

A recent study found that European lorries will need to be equipped with hybrid engines by 2025 in order for the EU to meet its climate targets. 

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