Original publication: May 2018
Authors: Ecofys, a Navigant company: Matthias Spöttle, Korinna Jörling, Matthias Schimmel, Maarten Staats
Navigant Research: Logan Grizzel, Lisa Jerram, William Drier, John Gartner
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2JBVvHq


Electromobility is currently seen as the most promising technology to curb Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions in individual transport. Electromobility refers to the use of Electric Vehicles (EVs), which are defined as vehicles that use one or more electric motors for propulsion. Its proliferation is a key element in the efforts to reach European Union (EU) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction targets and the goals set in the Paris Agreement[1] to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius. Additional advantages of electromobility include increased energy efficiency in transportation and reduction of smog and noise. However, the development of electromobility in the EU has been rather slow, with the exceptions of a few front-runner Member States.


When compared to the total stock of passenger cars, the total share of Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs) was only around 0.3% in 2017 in the EU. The deployment of charging infrastructure is essential to facilitate the development of electromobility, and more specifically the uptake of PEVs. The availability of charging infrastructure has been steadily increasing, similarly to the total stock of PEVs, in the EU. Figure 1 below provides a 2017 snapshot of the status of electromobility in Europe (EU28 and Norway) by providing an overview of the PEV stock, market share of new registrations, and publicly available charging points per EU Member State and Norway.

Figure 1: Number of PEVs (M1 ) and publicly accessible charging points in Europe (EU28 and Norway) (2017)

Aim and approach

This study analyses the various challenges of the deployment of charging infrastructure within the EU. This includes existing technologies and standardisation issues, metering systems and pricing schemes, business and financing models, the impact of charging infrastructure on the dissemination of PEVs, and the appropriateness of current technologies, business models, and public policies. This study relates to charging points for electric cars, vans, buses, and bikes. The objective is to highlight the key issues likely to be of concern to the Members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) and to indicate possible actions that might be taken by the Committee. This study also serves as input for the revision of Directive 2014/94/EU[2] (Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive).

Key findings

The respective PEV charging networks are varied in EU Member States. Funding programmes exist largely at national level and are complemented by further funding programmes from the EU. The information on existing national and EU funding programmes is imperfect, as there is no centralised information platform at EU level for providers of PEV charging services.

In terms of the technical hardware, the standards for the EU’s PEV charging modes and types are sufficient to guarantee uniform quality, safety of charging, and investor security for market actors.

The analysis carried out in this study shows that the density of charging infrastructure generally correlates positively with PEV adoption. However, the influence of charging infrastructure as a variable differs depending on the national context. Furthermore, there is a range of other factors that are proven or suspected to be correlated with PEV uptake, such as model availability, financial incentives, urban density, etc. At this point of early market development, it is unclear how these different factors will interact with and influence PEV adoption. Despite the uncertainty about the extent of its influence, charging infrastructure is necessary – but not sufficient – for PEV adoption in any given market. In this early stage of market development for PEVs, most front-runner countries have applied a demand-oriented approach for charging infrastructure rollout (with the exception of the United States of America (USA)). The demand-oriented approach follows the assumption that charging infrastructure should be constructed at those sites where existing and future demand can be determined. This approach aims for the optimal allocation and utilisation of all charging points and avoids redundancies. The coverage-oriented approach follows the premise that public infrastructure should guarantee a minimum standard of service to the widest possible public by minimising the distance between the charging points.

To increase market penetration, a shift towards a coverage-oriented approach is needed as this will have a significant positive impact on range anxiety at the consumer level by providing a safety net for emergency situations. If the number of charging points is too high compared to the number of PEVs, there will not be a viable business case for charging point operators. There are a lot of business models and ideas for operating charging infrastructure, but the profitability of most remains limited. This is largely due to the high capital costs for charging stations, siting (i.e. finding the most appropriate location for charging infrastructure) challenges, the cost of electricity for high power charging, and uncertainty of utilisation at specific locations.

The ratio of PEVs per public charging point combined with a street map showing areas not covered with public charging stations could be used by policymakers to determine the quantity of public charging stations needed per region. A successful, coverage-oriented approach in the EU will require a central register for publicly accessible charging stations to allow for a coordinated approach to identify gaps in geographical coverage.

The lack of a coordinating agency at EU level is the most important issue to address in the current phase of market development. The responsibilities of such an institution would include the build-up of a reliable database of existing infrastructure, provide comprehensive information about funding programmes, and develop coordinated approaches for the further development of infrastructure in cooperation with the EU Member States. Further policy recommendations are listed in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Policy recommendations

Table 1: Policy recommendations

[1]    The Paris Agreement sets out a global action plan to tackle climate change by keeping global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
[2]    Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure.

Link to the full publication: http://bit.ly/617-470

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