Electromobility in Europe: Serious lack of choice

October 17, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Though the European market for electric vehicles is the second largest in the world, there is still a “serious lack of choice” for customers, in particular in the van segment, states Transport & Environment. The pan-European umbrella organization for NGOs pursuing sustainable transport sees this market at a critical point.

According to a recent study from T&N, sales of electric cars have reached the milestone of a 1% market share. In 2015, the market doubles to 144.000 electric vehicles population Europe’s roads, and though no final figures are available yet, indicators hint that the growth is continuing. In 2016, the Brussels-based organization expects that during the current year, more than 200.000 plug-in vehicles will be sold throughout Europe; the number of electric vehicles in use will therefore cross the 500.000 units mark.

Norway and the Netherlands are driving the development of the EV market by incentives for buyers. T&N complains that there is no such thing yet as a single market for electric cars in Europe. In most EU countries, EV sales are virtually zero and so is the charging infrastructure. The reason, according to the organization: Lack of political support. “If Europe is to become a leader in electromobility and in particular compete with China as the world’s largest EV market, this needs to change”, the study concludes.

The same reluctance characterizes the attitude is observed throughout the European car industry with the notable exception of Nissan-Renault. Until recently, most European carmakers have until recently been keen to talk down the prospects for electric cars and vans, the organization states. This attitude is now about to change; since the recent Paris Motor Show, T&N observes a paradigm shift, underpinned by a rapidly falling price for batteries with performance improving in lockstep. By the mid-2020s, the lease price for battery and conventional vehicles will be similar, the T&N experts extrapolate.

Contrary to rhetoric, the shift to EVs need not lead to the destruction of value in the European automotive industry with batteries imported from the Far East or the US. Instead, there are a number of planned new production facilities in Germany, Hungary and Poland; and research indicates the transition will create 0.5-1 million jobs.

However, there remains a serious