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Uneven and inconsistent charging infrastructure could hamper consumer uptake of EV | Europe

Uneven and inconsistent charging infrastructure could hamper consumer uptake of EV

A myriad of hurdles must yet be overcome before a charging infrastructure can be established to truly support the widespread uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe, according to a new report by IMS Research, a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry. IMS Research forecasts that there will be an installed base of 12.5 million public and private charging stations across Europe by 2019, with 23 percent in Germany and 17 percent in the UK.

?Despite the hype from governments looking to push their environmental agendas or vehicle manufacturers seeking to excite green consumers, EVs cannot hope to take-off across Europe without a robust and consistent charging infrastructure,? says Helena Perslow, Senior Market Analyst at IMS Research.

?European government policies encouraging and subsidizing the development of an EV charging infrastructure are vastly different from one country to another. Equally, operators? reluctance to work together to agree a consistent charging network, and differences in the types of connectors OEMs are using to charge vehicles, all paint a confused and discordant picture ? and conspire to delay consumer uptake of EVs.?

Beside barriers caused by the absence of operator agreements to create a consistent network of charging stations, there are still important technology barriers to overcome too. There are two different plugs / connectors), one favored by German manufacturers, and the other preferred by the French. The European Commission has issued an intention to standardize the plug throughout the EU, and the European Automobile Manufacturers? Association (ACEA) has only recently made its recommendation. The ACEA does not anticipate full implementation for at least another vehicle cycle ? so not real progress until 2017.

European countries can be characterized as leaders like Norway, Germany and The Netherlands; and laggards including the UK and France.

Norway, which welfare and strong economy is due to their oil and gas deposits in the North Sea, has the most EVs on the road per capita in the world. Norway does not have any incentives to purchase EVs but some tax reliefs on ownership.

Germany has the highest number of EVs on the road in Europe. The government does not offer any monetary incentives to buy EVs, but three of the world?s leading car manufacturers are German and its four main utility companies have aggressively pursued charging infrastructure development.

The Dutch government has made the Amsterdam area one of Europe?s best developed EV charging infrastructures ? to the point where there are too many EV charging bays, reserved for EVs only.

France has been slow in deployment, partly because there is only really one player, state owned EDF. However, its government has been actively regulating and advising businesses and the public on EV charging.

The UK only has Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy Plan to hold-up as meaningful action. In general, without a robust infrastructure, people in the UK would only be able to charge at home, and then, realistically, only those with a garage or driveway.

Portugal and Ireland have large nationwide government funded charging station projects, including generous incentives to buy EVs. But, hit hard by the financial crisis, it is uncertain of this level of support is sustainable.

?Beyond the obvious environmental benefits, consumers will also get a lot more from the typical EV,? Perslow adds. ?EVs tend to offer much more in terms of telematics and infotainment, and due to the need to find charging stations all EVs have some type of connectivity as standard. With purchase incentives, tax exemption of ownership, and less servicing, the higher initial cost will be outweighed by a much lower longer-term cost-of-ownership. And with companies ? like Qualcomm ? working hard to bring to market technology solutions to address interoperability issues, the EV promise is slowly becoming a reality.?
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Posted by Gloria Llopis | 2012-03-22