EU takes big step towards making charging anxiety a thing of the past
Yesterday the European Commission presented a completely revamped infrastructure law to make charging anxiety a thing of the past. As part of the Fit for 55 climate package, EU countries will be mandated to deploy enough public chargers to match the fast-rising sales of electric cars. This is a huge improvement on the current outdated version of the law from 2014, and means that there will be a comprehensive public charging network from 2025 for electric cars, vans and trucks to drive seamlessly across Europe.
A regulation for an EU-wide single charging market
By changing the legislative instrument from a directive to a regulation, the European Commission has answered the unanimous calls of carmakers, NGOs, consumers and the whole electric vehicle value chain to create an EU-wide single charging market. Sticking with a directive would have delayed the implementation by a couple of years as it would need to be translated into national law, with quality of coverage varying in different EU countries. Now, via a regulation, the law will be immediately binding across the EU, creating a harmonised and seamless network for all.
The new regulation also guarantees unified standards, making charging cheaper to install and easier to use thanks to requirements on ad hoc payment, price transparency and comparability, connectivity and access to information.
The power of a microwave for each electric car
The proposed law takes a big step in the right direction by ensuring that the number of public chargers increases hand in hand with the number of EVs on the road. EU countries from France to Romania will be required to provide enough public charging capacity to power their electric fleets. In other words, there needs to be 1 kW of public charging power available – about the power of a microwave or dishwasher – for each battery electric car.
That may not sound like a lot, but given that almost all charging is private, mostly at home but also at work, the 1 kW per car target for publicly accessible chargers should guarantee plentiful charging opportunities for drivers.
Driving across Europe will get a whole lot easier with requirements on the coverage of highways ensuring European EV drivers will be able to drive from Portugal to Estonia and from Denmark to Greece. While main roads will be covered by 2025, unfortunately EV drivers will have to wait until 2030 to have the full road network covered. In urban areas, electric car drivers that need to top up, or that don’t have a private charger, have no guarantees under the current proposal that they will find fast charging hubs or chargers at their local supermarket or other stores.
The 2020s is the critical decade which will democratise EVs. Although the framework of the law is adequate, EU policymakers and countries need to take a small extra step to fully guarantee that chargers are available in the right locations, and people can use their car for all their needs.
The electric truck future starts now
It’s not just a win for car drivers. For the first time the EU is targeting charging infrastructure for electric trucks. Setting targets for truck chargers along the highways and at the main urban areas in 2025, the European Commission is clearly signaling that the future of trucking is electric and that the future starts now. However, unlike for cars, the law doesn’t plan to set any targets that will guarantee the number of electric truck chargers increases hand in hand with the total number of e-trucks.
The Commission did get one thing horribly wrong, though. By continuing to consider gas refuelling infrastructure as a credible Green Deal compliant option for trucks, it is backing a solution that can never fully decarbonise. It is time to let go of false solutions and seize this opportunity to build a harmonised and seamless charging law for trucks, which would set an example on the global stage.
There is still work to be done, but the Commission has gone a long way towards making charging anxiety a thing of the past. In doing so, it has replaced the stick used to beat electric vehicles, with a carrot that will incentivise a more rapid transition.