Policies to support the take-up of electric vehicles (EV) in European countries are proving largely ineffective. In 2011, only 11,500 EVs were registered, representing just 0.09% of all cars sold in Europe. To meet targets for reducing carbon emissions – and to position Europe at the forefront of developments in EV technology – policy makers must find a way to overcome the obstacles that are preventing people from choosing EVs.
Policy makers can promote EVs more effectively by addressing the common misconceptions that currently shape consumer attitudes to EVs: anxiety about their range, concerns about cost of ownership and worries about lack of charging infrastructure.
Anxiety about range
Anxiety about EVs’ limited range dissuades many consumers from choosing them. However, EVs have a range of 50 to 100 kilometres, while the average car journey in Western Europe is approximately 15 to 25 kilometres. For many drivers, therefore, range anxiety is unfounded.
Concerns about running costs
While some Europeans can afford expensive cars, concerns about running costs are recognised as a factor in deterring them from becoming EV buyers. This view is often reinforced by the positive results experienced in places where such costs are reduced, such as in Denmark where EV owners are exempt from vehicle registration tax – and which had twice the average European EV market share in 2011. However, the situation in Norway – which has the highest EV market share in Europe – suggests that running costs are not necessarily the deciding factor. Oslo is the only city in Europe where EV drivers are allowed to use bus lanes, which reduces their travel times every working day. This suggests that users will accept higher running costs and other limitations if driving an EV gives them easier access to city centres.
Worries about charging infrastructure
It is widely accepted that an extensive EV-charging infrastructure would be required to stimulate wider take-up of EVs. In fact, most charging takes place at home and work. The real challenge lies in installing enough charging points at homes or workplaces: many city dwellers do not have a driveway and rely on on-street parking. For those who do have a driveway or garage, the high cost of installing a charging point at home adds to the already significant cost of buying and running an electric vehicle.
As well as addressing common misconceptions about EVs, another way of increasing their take-up would be to focus on use rather than ownership. Paris, for example, already runs the EV sharing scheme, Autolib, while EVs are included in Peugeot’s vehicle leasing service, Mu. Policy makers could also encourage businesses to choose electric vehicles when they renew their fleets. Although EV take-up is complex, a best practice exchange between European countries can ensure Europe is not falling behind in car electrification.
PA Consulting Group is working with a wide range of private and public sector organisations to develop the right car for a resource-efficient future. This includes encouraging convergence across industries to improve overall vehicle technology, energy supply, connectivity, finance and business models and the new generation of megacities. We work closely with car makers to cut the costs associated with batteries and hybrid transmissions and to reduce vehicle body weight. We also work with utilities to define and develop business cases relating to charging infrastructure and to enable better EV market share.
To find out how PA can help your organisation make green mobility a reality, please contact us now.