Electric cars: unrealistic CO2 targets proposed by EU Parliament ignore lack of charging points

Brussels, 5 July 2018 – Ahead of next week’s European Parliament votes on future CO2 targets for cars and vans, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) warns that the severe lack and unbalanced distribution of charging points is putting consumers off buying electric cars.

A new study provides a much-needed reality check for the Parliament, showing that the CO2 targets proposed by some MEPs are simply unattainable given these issues with infrastructure.

Today, there are some 100,000 charging points for electric vehicles in the EU. At least two million will be needed by 2025, according to conservative estimates by the European Commission. That means there should be, at a very minimum, a twenty-fold increase within the next seven years.

“MEPs need to be aware that without radical action by the member states, this simply won’t happen,” cautioned ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert.

Because of the limited room for further improvements to the combustion engine, future CO2 reductions are strongly dependent on sales of alternatively-powered vehicles. Given the low market uptake of these vehicles, ACEA is concerned that the 30% CO2 reduction proposed by the European Commission is overly challenging.

The Parliament is now proposing even more aggressive CO2 targets, going as far as -50%. However, according to EU Climate Action Commissioner Cañete, a 50% reduction target would require 700,000 new charging points for electric cars to be installed every year from now on. This would mean a total of 8.4 million new charging points over the next 12 years, or 84 times more than today – a goal which is clearly unrealistic.

Although the EU’s Directive on Alternative Fuel Infrastructure set out objectives for member states in 2014, its implementation has been poor so far. Several countries have failed to come up with the required national policy frameworks outlining their plans for deploying infrastructure, and the Commission has even been obliged to launch infringement procedures against some member states.  

What is more, the findings of the recent ACEA study show that of all charging points that exist in the EU today, 76% are concentrated in just four countries which cover only 27% of the EU’s total surface area (the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK).

By contrast, a vast country like Romania only counts 114 charging points, or 0.1% of the EU total. Not surprisingly, sales of electrically-chargeable cars are also extremely low here, representing 0.2% of all new cars sold last year.

“All 28 member states must urgently step up their efforts to ensure an EU-wide network of recharging and refueling infrastructure. Without this, consumers will never be convinced to make the switch to electrically-chargeable cars on a large scale,” Jonnaert said. “We need to be able to show our customers that the infrastructure availability matches their expectations to be able to travel without anxiety.”

“Two things are very clear,” explained Mr Jonnaert. “Future CO2 reductions depend on greater sales of electric vehicles, and greater sales of electric vehicles depend on a dense network of charging infrastructure. The CO2 legislation must therefore make the link between these two elements.”

ACEA is therefore requesting that the legislation includes a mid-term ‘reality check’ to assess the availability of infrastructure and the maturity of electrically-chargeable vehicle market, allowing the targets to be adapted accordingly.

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Notes for editors

  • On 10 July, the European Parliament’s Committees on industry (ITRE) and transport (TRAN) will vote on the European Commission’s proposal for future car and van CO2 targets.
  • The ACEA study ‘Making the transition to zero-emission mobility: Addressing the barriers to the uptake of electrically-chargeable cars in the EU’ can be found at: https://www.acea.be/publications/article/study-making-the-transition-to-zero-emission-mobility.
  • The accompanying infographic may be republished, provided that ACEA is credited as the source of the material.
  • Electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECVs) include full battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, both of which require appropriate recharging infrastructure:
    • Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are fully powered by an electric motor, using electricity stored in an on-board battery that is charged by plugging into the electricity grid;
    • Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) have an internal combustion engine (running on petrol or diesel) and a battery-powered electric motor. The combustion engine supports the electric motor when required, and the battery is recharged by connecting to the grid as well as by the on-board engine.

About ACEA

  • ACEA represents the 15 major Europe-based car, van, truck and bus manufacturers: BMW Group, DAF Trucks, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford of Europe, Honda Motor Europe, Hyundai Motor Europe, Iveco, Jaguar Land Rover, PSA Group, Renault Group, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen Group, Volvo Cars, and Volvo Group.
  • More information can be found on www.acea.be or @ACEA_eu.
  • Contact: Cara McLaughlin, Communications Director, cm@acea.be, +32 2 738 73 45 or +32 485 88 66 47.

About the EU automobile industry

  • 13.3 million people – or 6.1% of the EU employed population – work directly and indirectly in the sector.
  • The 3.4 million jobs in automotive manufacturing represent over 11% of total EU manufacturing employment.
  • Motor vehicles account for some €413 billion in tax contributions in the EU15.
  • The sector is also a key driver of knowledge and innovation, representing Europe's largest private contributor to R&D, with €54 billion invested annually.
  • The automobile industry generates a trade surplus of €90.3 billion for the EU.