The state of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in Europe

In the last decade, E-mobility had the chicken and egg problem, not enough customers buying electric vehicles for the lack of ubiquitous public charging infrastructure, and not enough EV charging infrastructure in place because of too few electric vehicles on the road.

However, thanks to favourable policies and advances in technology driving down the price and driving up the speed and performance of electric vehicles and EV charging stations, the picture of electromobility in Europe has changed drastically. Add to that increased collaboration among energy companies, automobile companies, and EV charging equipment manufacturers, the number of EV charging points in Europe stands at 170,149 in 2019 from just 3201 in 2010; the biggest growth being registered from 69,094 in 2015 to 132,114 in 2016. Out of this Netherlands has over 37,000 charging points, Germany 26,200, France 24,770 and UK 18,200. Europe is already ahead of the goal of one charging station per 10 electric vehicles; however, the infrastructure has to keep expanding to cater to the growing number of electric vehicles that hit the road each year. It is estimated that by 2025, 14% of all light vehicles sold in Europe would be electric.

In Europe, 79% of the public charging infrastructure is operated by utilities and oil companies. The general strategy among Energy giants seems to be acquiring and investing in promising new EV charging technology startups. Among Oil and Gas companies, the interest of Shell in electromobility has been the most noteworthy. Shell New Energies is investing $1billion annually in renewable energy and EV charging. Shell has acquired New Motion, which operates a network of over 100,000 charge points in 28 countries(as of 2019). Shell has also acquired Sonnen, which specializes in EV charging and home energy storage solutions, and US-based EV charging operation platform, GreenLots. Another Oil and gas major, Total has acquired G2mobility, a French charging network operator with more than 10,000 charge points. BP has acquired Chargemaster, UK’s largest charging network operator with over 7000 charging points and also a leader in the installation of home charging and workplace charging solutions. The British oil and gas giant has also invested in  FreeWire Technologies, provider of mobile charging solutions, StoreDot, a battery technology startup, and PowerShare, a Chinese startup that connects EV drivers, charging operators and power companies.

Utility companies have also entered the EV charging space. French utility, EDF has ambitious plans to capture a big share of the European market, its subsidiary Izivia operates more than 5000 charging points in Europe and has close to 50,000 in its network for its customers.EDF has also invested in Nuvve, a Vehicle to Grid (V2G) charging startup. EDF, E.ON, and Enel are collaborating with Nuvve and Nissan to pilot V2G (Vehicle to Grid) charging technology. Engie has also entered the game by acquiring EVBox, a charging network operator from Netherlands and PowerDale, a Belgian charging station operator.

Nordic countries have been the front runners of EV charging infrastructure race much before it was fashionable in other countries, Norway and Sweden are leading, with Denmark and Finland following closely. However, an interesting trend surfaces from mature markets such as Norway, there is high penetration of home chargers in Norway, 9 out of 10 EV owners have the option to charge their vehicle at home, with the total number of private wall box EVSE charging stations reaching 90,000 at the end of 2018. According to the report from Transport & Environment,

“while there has been considerable focus on and investment in public recharging infrastructure, evidence from studies shows that it is a very minor part of the way electric cars are charged and just 5% of vehicle charging happens at public charging locations including on-street city charging, car parks and fast charging along road corridors, 95% of EV charging happens home and at work. Evidence from Norway, the most developed EV market in Europe, shows that as the EV market matures, public urban charging is used less rather than more.”

This is a clear indication while lack of public charging infrastructure was a deterrent for customers in purchasing electric vehicles, as the market matures, there would be more interest in charging solutions at home and at work where electric vehicles spend most of their time, parked.

Considering that 75% of new bus registrations come from pubic bodies, public transportation and other fleet operators also play a significant role in the future of electrification of transportation. Currently, fully electric buses account for only 9% of urban bus sales in Europe. While there is are instances of nations and cities stepping up, a more directed policy at the European level is much needed for the electrification of public fleets. France and Poland have put in place decarbonization targets for their public fleets. Several capital cities such as Madrid, London, and Brussels have put in place low-emission zones, and Copenhagen has decided to produce only electric buses going forward. Deutsche Post DHL Group has deployed the largest fleet of electric vehicles in Germany, this includes electric trucks, and over 12,000 street scooters, e-bikes and e-trikes. UK’s major energy suppliers Centrica and SSE have committed to switching their vehicle fleets to fully electric by 2030.

While it is still early days for EV charging, the market has already gained critical momentum, and the only direction it is going is up. The high interest of Energy majors in new and innovative technologies has made the market attractive for technology companies and startups working in the field.

At Prospero Group, we are bringing together decision-makers from the leading European energy, automobile, and EV charging technology companies to brainstorm and discuss the strategic, regulatory, & technological aspects for effective charging infrastructure. You can connect with me to know more about what is happening!