EU underestimates charging demand, auto lobby says

Acea report says EU has undershot 2030 charging demand by over 5mn units

EU underestimates charging demand, auto lobby says
Acea finds the EU will need 8.8mn chargers by 2030, not 3.5mn

The EU will needs more than double its current target for public EV chargers by 2030, according to a new report published by the European auto manufacturers' lobby, Acea.

Under the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (Afir), the European Commission is calling for 3.5mn charging points by 2030, as part of its target to reduce CO2 emissions by 55pc by the end of the decade. Acea, however, emphasises that Afir sets out only "minimum targets" and is insufficient on its own.

Acea says that its projections "suggest a significantly higher demand, estimating the necessity of 8.8mn charging points by 2030." "Reaching this would require 1.4mn chargers to be installed per year or 22,438 per week," it says

Just over 153,000 EV charging points were installed in the EU in 2023, Acea says, citing data from the European Commission, a pace which, if maintained will see the bloc having only 1.6mn chargers by 2030, below even the EU's current targets.

"Over the past seven years, sales of BEVs have outpaced the growth of the charging point network by more than threefold. Between 2017 and 2023, electric car sales increased over 18 times, while the number of public chargers in the EU grew merely sixfold during the same period," it warns

And only around one in seven of all chargers are capable of fast charging above 22kW, Acea also finds.

Challenges ahead

The industry faces considerable obstacles to as such a rapid build-out as Acea is forecasting, not least because the sector is made up of a slew of relatively small players, most of which are national rather than continent-wide in scale. This means a surplus a smaller players struggling to reach scale, as well as intensified competition in procurement processes.

And it has also created geographical imbalances across the EU in terms of charging infrastructure distribution. Just three EU countries covering c.20pc of the EU’s surface area — the Netherlands, France, and Germany — are home to almost two-thirds (61pc) of all EU charging points.

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The level of upfront investment required by the public charging installation business model also means that firms often take up to four years before reaching positive free cash flow. Installations are typically lumpy and increased utilisation rates — which are largely proportional to EV market share — are needed for CPOs to register material revenue.

Acea calls for the European Alternative Fuels Observatory to implement a "monitoring system" to incentivise national governments to invest charger rollout, but stops short of making any specific recommendations.

Currently, 22 EU member states do not offer any financial incentives for infrastructure development or installation, despite many of these nations incentivising EV purchases.

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