28.1.2013 EU plans 500,000 charging points by 2020
The European Union has new plans to install half a million charging stations by 2020, as part of a new plan to boost electric vehicle sales in Europe.
The ambitious plan will mean that electric vehicle charging ports will be almost as common as petrol stations, and is expected to attract more people to buying plug-in vehicles.
The European Commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, said that this approach will, "finally stop the chicken and egg discussion on whether infrastructure needs to be there before the large scale roll out of electric vehicles."
Connie said that by rolling out a widespread and well distributed charging point network, using a common plug type, people would be sure to understand plug-in vehicles more, leading to more purchases.
The charging point plan is part of a wider scheme – the 8 billion Euro 'Clean Power for Transport Package'. This package will also include funds for developing hydrogen, biofuel and other natural gas networks. It is considered vital to allocate significant money to develop low emission fuel infrastructures, as alternative fuels for transport will make Europe less dependent on oil and more resource efficient.
Today, around 250 million cars are on the roads in Europe, and only a fraction of these are plug-in vehicles. In 2011 for example, Germany sold 1,858 electric cars, France sold 1,796, Norway sold 1,547 and 1,170 were sold in the UK. However, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association has predicted that plug-in models could account for as much as 8% of the total by 2025, suggesting that serious growth on this technology may be on the cards.
However, countries will need to move fast with regard to installing electric charging points. Germany for example, considered to be relatively advanced in plug-in technology, had less than 2,000 public charging points by the end of 2011, and would have to install an additional 148,000 by 2020 to keep up with targets.
Having a single plug standard is essential to ensure that international usability is maximised. The scheme ensures that the 'Type 2' Mennekes socket and plug would become the standard European system.
However, not everyone entirely agrees with the assumption that providing a widespread charging network will alone boost electric vehicle sales significantly. Dr Ben Lane of Next Green Car commented: "My basic concern is that the main barrier to electric vehicles isn't recharging points, it's the vehicle price. While having more public charging points will certainly help, it's not in itself going to reduce the vehicle cost."
Noting that a vast majority of electric car or plug-in hybrid drivers avail themselves of private charging points, either at home or at work, Dr. Lane suggested that the funds would be more effectively spent by subsidizing the high cost of purchasing electric cars.
A visible and user friendly public charging point network is however necessary to help electric vehicle uptake. The see where your nearest charging point is in the UK, see Next Green Car's Zap-Map.
The International Herald Tribune
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