Europe’s cross-border charging firms lament more national approaches
Lack of a continent-wide approach is a major hurdle in developing successful European charging infrastructure
“We are not in the United States of Europe, so some of the powers and abilities that the [US] federal government has to deploy funding — for example, through the Nevi program, through the IRA Act — we do not have those levers available to us.” So says Tanya Sinclair, European policy director for Chargepoint, a California-headquartered charging firm that is also active across 12 European countries.
“But what we do have is quite similar market penetration in parts of the US and parts of Europe. The numbers of vehicles as a proportion overall look relatively similar, and the imbalance of some ‘not spots’ and ‘hot spots’ when it comes to vehicles and charging,” she further told the IAA Mobility conference in Munich.
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Consultancy BCG forecasts that EV sales will reach the same 65pc level in both Europe and the US by 2030. With China still far in advance of that, BCG foresees EV charging as a key driver in global demand for electricity growing eightfold, reaching 500TWh/yr by the end of the decade.
And it estimates that Europe alone will need 2.4mn public chargers by 2030 in order to keep up with the expansion of EV usage, with particular focus on fast charging, which it predicts will grow 30pc year-on-year in Europe. For China, that number is 4.9mn, while in the US it is 1.7mn.
So the importance of joined-up supra-national and national regulatory approaches in Europe is paramount. But Sinclair also stresses that such frameworks should be light touch.
“It is almost like the invisible hand of regulation,” she says. “That is how you want it to be. You do not want to feel as a business, or as a driver, regulated.”
Location, location, location
Another challenge for the furthering of Europe’s charging infrastructure will be geographical; where is best to install charging stations and how much focus should be placed on public versus private charging points.
“The customer needs to feel it is really convenient, whatever that means in terms of shelter, light, safety, security, easy to find, drive-thru, all these kinds of options,” says Michael Hajesch, CEO of pan-European CPO Ionity. “We are on a good way to achieve this, because of the huge learning curve and now the mass market being on it.
"Recharging will be available everywhere; home, workplace, food courts, construction sites and long distance,” Hajesch predicts.
“That is it basically,” agrees Michael Halbherr, CEO of charger manufacturer ABB E-Mobility. “The whole topic of what the time [a vehicle is charging] offers, whether it is convenient for the customer”.