Action on charging points to help electric vehicles

The EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas has floated the idea of the EU legislating to oblige member states to provide more charging points for electric vehicles. The proposal came as part of a ‘Clean Power for Transport’ package launched last month that looks to encourage a greater take-up of alternative-fuel vehicles by the public. T&E said it was ‘a small but largely welcome step’ in the right direction.

With the EU looking to reduce transport emissions by 60% between 1990 and 2050 – which means 70% from now given the rise in emissions since 1990 – one of the avenues for action is  to look beyond traditional petrol and diesel. But alternative fuels such as electricity and hydrogen are being held back by low public acceptance mainly due to the high retail price of the associated vehicles  and a lack of charging stations.

Kallas’ proposal for member states to have targets for a minimum number of charging  points is aimed at breaking a vicious cycle. Many motorists currently do not dare to buy an electric car because there aren’t enough charging points, yet because there are so few electric cars, there is no incentive to provide more charging points.

Kallas also wants to set targets for electric vehicle charging stations and for both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG). The recommendation for CNG is for refuelling points every 150km, while for LNG it would be every 400km along the trans-European network priority routes. 

The clean fuels strategy also proposes harmonised technology. It recommends the two-pin German plug for electric vehicle charging points, simply because it is the most widely used. This news will be unpopular in France, which uses a different type of plug which would not be compatible.

T&E director Jos Dings said: ‘Setting up more charging points is a small but largely welcome step towards breaking the monopoly of oil and biofuels that cause climate change. Electric vehicles are not the Holy Grail of transport, but they will certainly have an important role to play. We need the average new car to reach 60 g/km by 2025, and in that context providing for more electric vehicle charging points is a good move.’

The clean fuels package also includes an action plan for the development of LNG in shipping.