By on February 11, 2021

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is demanding the EU install more electric vehicle charging stations in a letter co-signed with Transport & Environment (T&E) and the European Consumer Organization (BEUC). This marks the hundredth time (rough estimate) an auto lobbying entity has tried to pressure the government into spending a fortune to drastically alter the European infrastructure to support the planned glut of EVs.

But it might be a fair request. Regulatory actions have effectively forced the industry into a corner and it now seems giddy at the prospect of an electrified world. The only real downside is that the charging infrastructure and power grids aren’t ready. ACEA estimates that the EU will need to build one million public charging points by 2024, with hopes of seeing three million installed before 2030.

Let’s see how feasible that is before it’s tried in our neck of the woods.

Automakers are convinced they’ll need a robust grid to mainstream EVs inside of Europe and have been working on supplying charging networks of their own. But the latest counts have the total number of public charging stations inside of the EU just shy of 250,000 units. Completing another 750,000 in four years would be a monumental undertaking, though allegedly worth it from the perspective of the ACEA. The group claimed that setting lofty targets would result in the creation of countless construction jobs and allow the European Union to adhere to its climate goals.

“European automakers are driving the transition to e-mobility and are literally outperforming each other in launching new electric vehicles. But the success of this huge effort is seriously threatened by the delayed installation of charging infrastructure in the EU,” wrote ACEA President and BMW CEO Oliver Zipse. “The EU Commission quickly needs to take action and set binding targets for the ramp-up of charging infrastructure in the member states. Otherwise, even the current reduction targets in fighting climate change are at risk. In addition to public charging infrastructure, we also need to put a stronger focus on workplace and home charging.”

Unwilling to risk a scenario where most people continue to prefer liquid-fueled alternatives, the ACEA (which represents the largest automakers operating in Europe) really wants the EU to solidify its commitments here while also chucking on a few hydrogen stations for good measure. It’s also undoubtedly hoping that it will also foot a sizable portion of the bill.

Fortunately for them, practically all member states have issued some kind of promise toward installing more stations or further subsidizing the assembly and sale of EVs. For example, German has vowed to have a million charging points within its borders by 2030, plans to spend $4.8 billion on home charging solutions, and doubled incentives for electric cars over the summer. But it’s not abundantly clear that its electrical grid could handle an EV dominant landscape in the current format.

Energy prices have gotten brutally high in Germany ever since it started trying to tamp down coal and nuclear power for greener, albeit less reliable sources, like wind and solar. All manner of remedies have been proposed, including a few that had to be recalled. Last month, Germany’s Economics Minister Peter Altmaier presented a draft law that would allow electric utilities to temporarily suspend power for charging electric cars “when there is once again too little electricity available.”

As you might imagine, cutting off people’s electricity wasn’t an incredibly popular idea. Despite being just one example of the trouble the EU will have to contend with, it showcases the general issue in advancing these types of policies. It’s hard to give consumers what they want and still adhere to the kind of social engineering necessary for a carbon-neutral lifestyle. But people aren’t going to rush out and buy EVs if there’s no way of charging them — whether that’s due to a lack of charging points or because the electric company might randomly shut down the tap.

[Image: nrqemi/Shutterstock]

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18 Comments on “European Auto Lobby Demands More EV Charging Stations for Hundredth Time...”

  • avatar

    The association should build them – let the members foot the bill, and then restrict the usage to those brands, or at least have tiered pricing. If any other companies want in, they can contribute funds.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Adding an EV to a household isn’t a 100% increase in consumption; mine has been about 20%.

    And since not every household, business, and municipal customer is going to suddenly add EVs overnight, grid infrastructure can easily grow in concert with the market growth of EVs.

    The real squabble is over who will pay for all the charging stations, and how to bill for their use. Toyota sat around hoping for the American states to install hydrogen stations for its Mirai, and its expansion has been laughable.

    Tesla read the tea leaves early and decided to foot the bill for its own charging network. So while people scoffed at Tesla’s annual losses, it expanded its footprint in the EV market via product and infrastructure in North America, Asia, and Europe.

    As for the quantity of chargers, I wonder what the rationale is for so many. People who charge at home have little use for public chargers except for long trips, and this is why Tesla placed its Superchargers near highways. In nearly 6 years of EV driving, I’ve used a public charger less than ten times.

    Perversely, the need for a dense charging network was in 2010 when EVs had very short range. With today’s 200-400 mile range EVs, the need for public charging is greatly reduced.

    Perhaps the EU policy makers aren’t very familiar with the EV ownership experience?

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with you, but TSLA was able to do so because the laws of time and space do not apply to it. No established manufacturer go could years without profits and still pay for a refueling network while being solvent, this is why Toyota pushed off hydrogen responsibilities to the gov’t (or gov backed third party).

    • 0 avatar

      “People who charge at home have little use for public chargers except for long trips”
      “Perhaps the EU policy makers aren’t very familiar with the EV ownership experience?”

      How many people in Romania can charge at home the way you can?
      Closer, I know some people that live in high-rises. How are they going to charge at home?

      • 0 avatar

        The high-rises I go into have 7 or 8 floors of garage underground complete with power outlets in many spaces that I’ve used to charge my car.

        • 0 avatar

          What kind of outlet? And how many is “many”?

          • 0 avatar

            Depends on the building. Level 2 chargers in some cases. Some were 20 amp. There are NEMA 14-50s too. Not sure how many. The 20 amps were probably every 25ft. You just park, look for the nearest outlet which was always within the length of the cord. You could design a building for EVs. There could be NEMA 14-50’s throughout. I just remembered the level 2 count for one facility. They’ve got 50 Enel level 2 chargers. The facility with 50 chargers has a massive Bloom Energy natural gas powered fuel cell system. The Bloom Energy Systems are one way to add additional power to charge EVs. They could definitely add more level 2s when the time comes.

            The 20 amp outlets I’ve used were fine because I’m at the facilities long enough for my battery to charge. I’m only about 20 miles away, so maybe 5 or 6 kWh to get the car to full. In fact, I usually go for the plentiful 20 amps because I don’t want to deal with moving the car from a quicker charger when it’s done.

            Most of the time with an EV, you’re not going for 300 mile drives every day. Usually you just top up the car. Most of the time I go on an errand, I’m only using 2 or 3 kWh. So even a 15 amp is enough to charge it.

            Check out Bloom Energy. It’s an easy way to add power capacity. It also reduces the buildings overall power costs. Lots of corporations are using their system to lower costs.

          • 0 avatar

            “Could” is doing a lot of each lifting throughout that comment.

            The government “could” also build out the charging infrastructure rather than hoping apartment complexes install “massive” Bloom Energy fuel cell systems or puts a 20amp plug at every reserved spot and hopes no one wants to go very far. Plus, it’s hardly a sure thing that every homeowner will be able to install an at-home charger.

            There’s around 280 million vehicles in the EU. 1-3 million public chargers doesn’t seem like overkill.

            I’m surprised the BEV advocates on TTAC wouldn’t want to make it easier for people in certain living situations to own one.

          • 0 avatar

            ““Could” is doing a lot of each lifting throughout that comment.”

            “Could” means they have the space and the money to add more level 2 charging. They have the means and ability to add the charging spaces. The Bloom system gives the extra power needed and lowers costs for the buildings. Right now, there aren’t enough people using the chargers to justify an increase.

            One of other entities that own the other buildings I’m talking about has over 40 billion in endowments and has the space and the money to add chargers.

            I’m just talking about the high rises and other facilities I park in. It’s possible to add charging facilities to high rises.

            For Europe, some of the charging systems are going into gas stations. The technology i“Could” is doing a lot of each lifting throughout that comment.s progressing fast enough that you could get a quick charge in a reasonable amount of time not much different than a gas car. Right now the ranges are 250 miles at the low end and 500+ miles for six-figure EVs. The price for a 500+ mile EV will probably drop and it would be possible for someone to only need a charge every couple of weeks.

            Wait and see what the Toyota battery and EVs are capable of. They might deliver the sort of charging speed and capacity needed along with the faster charging speed needed. I’ve seen the specs in the patent applications and it looks good. Then again, what’s delivered in mass production is usually disappointing, so we’ll have to see what they deliver out the door.

            The model we end up with may very well be something similar to what we have with gas cars. The technology is in sight that would give us gas car range and 10 minute charge times. What we have now in terms of range, cost, weight, and charging times isn’t what we’re going to have 5 to 10 years from now. Advances in material sciences are making it possible.

            Here’s just a sample of some of the research:


            Sure, a lot of stuff doesn’t make it out of the labs, but some of it does eventually find it’s way into products.

      • 0 avatar

        “Closer, I know some people that live in high-rises.”

        I lived in high-rise in Russia. It is not Romania but similar – former communist country where everybody lived in high-rises except of elite of course. I had a brick garage about half a mile away from high-rise and I could do there whatever I like, like drink vodka with friends or charge battery. It had 220V outlet that could handle anything and basement which also served as an oil pit, and also separate room for humans to store stuff.

  • avatar

    “Adding an EV to a household isn’t a 100% increase in consumption; mine has been about 20%.”

    Drive around my neighborhood with me at night (I’ll wear three masks) and I’ll show you homes where the owner could cover the better part of the electricity for an around-town EV just by switching to LED floodlights [ten to twelve 90-watt incandescent floodlights burning ~10 hours per night, 365 days per year].

    After that we can discuss phantom loads. (It all adds up.)

  • avatar

    I’m more than a bit leery of how fast these proposed drivetrain shifts are supposed to occur. I’m not a naive observer, I understand that the most dramatic public statements are just political positioning, but eventually all of these proposals written to take effect on the next guys watch will come due. Every single region in this country relies on automobiles, we drive massive distances and we do so from every single economic position. I think we will have an order of magnitude more logistical needs than the EU when it comes to electrical charging networks.

    Also, we’re still at the place where no one wants to make the switch. Not outside of a niche sub genre of auto enthusiasts and people who don’t want to own cars that is. So, there’s zero reason to think customers will tolerate even minor inconvenience as part of the process.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Since we have an X7 for road trips, I would consider an EV for a local runabout. Problem is, I’m doing so little driving right now (working from home) that I can’t justify purchasing any car at this time. I’m having to rotate a battery charger between my two cars to make sure they stay charged for the rare occurrence of driving.

  • avatar

    “I’m doing so little driving right now (working from home) that I can’t justify purchasing any car at this time”
    I hear you, I’m on a 10K mile/year lease, month 14 with only 7K miles driven, at this rate I will have under 20K miles by lease end, I will be forced to buy it out right or someone will get a great low mileage deal when turned in! I do want an EV though.

  • avatar

    I live in Los Angeles now, and have lived in NYC. MOST people there live in apartments and there are definitely not enough, if ANY, assigned parking for each car. People spend hours looking for a spot, and when they find one they are loathe to move. Also, on any given day, there are lines at regular gas stations for fuel. Now add to this: long charging times. What happens now? I just can’t see a solution to millions of cars needing electric charging and no place to charge. As it is, people park at charging spots LONG after they are charged, just because they are busy or there are no other spots open. All of these issues clump together, but I just don’t see how there is a solution with current technology.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      I tend to agree. The best governments and the environmental zealots who are pushing EVs should hope for is some limited penetration, like 20-30% of EVs relative to ICE vehicles over the next 30 years or so.

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