Press Release

Only 5 percent of EV charging happens at public charging points

September 7, 2018

Despite the perception that public recharging is a major barrier to the mass uptake of electric vehicles (EV), public chargers are only used for about 5% of charging events, including on-street city charging, car parks and fast charging along road corridors. The data compiled in various studies to date shows that the vast majority of EV charging happens at home or work and it is a lack of choice and availability of electric cars that is the principal barrier.

The visibility of public recharging may, however, be an important psychological factor in encouraging existing drivers of combustion cars to switch to electric alternatives, especially those who don’t own a garage or forecourt parking space.

In Norway, the world’s most mature EV market, the share of drivers relying on public slow charging on a daily basis dropped from almost 10% in 2014 to just 2% in 2017 – only about 15% of drivers use it on a weekly basis. Fast charging along main road corridors is the only charging type that has increased in use in the country. Plausible explanations include an increase in driving range and improved charging network coverage.

At present there are about five EVs on the road for every public charging point, comfortably within the recommendation of 10. With growth in both vehicle and charger numbers there should be about 220,000 chargers in urban areas by 2020 and good coverage of fast chargers along the European motorway network with about 5,000 fast charging sites planned. This translates into one charging point every 34 km along the strategic road network.

Greg Archer, Clean Vehicles Director with Transport & Environment (T&E), said: “Carmakers are creating a smokescreen claiming there is insufficient recharging points in major markets. The truth is the chicken or the egg problem is fixed in northern and western Europe, where three in four new EVs are sold. The primary bottleneck in increasing sales of electric cars is the lack of cars to plug-in.”

The analysis estimates the initial need for private and public investment in recharging infrastructure will gradually reduce and in the period 2018-2030 the cumulative cost of public charging for leading EV markets is estimated at €12 billion, a small fraction of the 100€ billion invested by the EU every year in transport infrastructure.

Recharging is not being rolled out uniformly across Europe – but neither are sales. The EU’s 11 northern and western countries are clear market leaders. These countries are expected to represent about 80% of EVs and public charging infrastructure in 2020 and accounted for over two-thirds (10 million) of the 15 million new cars sold in the EU in 2017. Already in 2017, 91% of the registered EVs were sold in these countries, representing a 1.9% market share. Sales in southern, central and eastern Europe are expected to lag by five to 10 years providing time for the build up of recharging points in these places later.

For these countries, the draft European Commission budget for 2020-7 has committed at least 60% of the EU’s cross-border infrastructure fund to finance schemes that help the fight against climate change, including EV infrastructure.

Greg Archer added: “There is time and funds available to build the recharging and grid infrastructure that will be needed as the market for electric cars expands. The question is whether carmakers will be pushed to supply electric cars through ambitious CO2 reduction targets for new cars in 2025 and 2030. The status quo is a Europe that continues to be a dirty diesel island in a world increasingly dominated by electric cars. Decisions in the European Parliament and Council in the next month will set the future trajectory and whether Europe is a leader or laggard in the shift to electromobility.”

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