Currently less than 7% of new registrations in Europe are electric cars, but this percentage is growing.
Currently less than 7% of new registrations in Europe are electric cars, but this percentage is growing.
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Basic Knowledge Electric vehicle charging explained

Author / Editor: Jamie Thomson / Isabell Page

One of the biggest barriers to electric vehicle uptake is a lack of charging infrastructure. But what does this mean exactly and what is the current state of EV charging in Europe?

According to a survey carried out by UK company LeasePlan, 64% of drivers say that insufficient charging infrastructure is preventing them from choosing an EV, while 62% cite ‘range anxiety’ as the reason. Despite the majority of those surveyed being in favour of the adoption of electric vehicles, widespread adoption of EVs in Europe is unlikely to happen until a comprehensive charging infrastructure is put in place.

In short, a charging infrastructure refers to a country’s ability to host electric vehicles on its public roads by providing accessibility to charging points. This article gives you deeper insights at the dynamics of EV charging capacity and range and look at how Europe is gearing up for a new phase in charging infrastructure.

The different types of electric vehicle charging

There are three main types of charging for EVs – rapid, fast and slow:

  • Rapid chargers, as the name suggests, are the quickest way to charge an electric vehicle. They charge via direct current (DC). Rapid charging points typically charge at between 100 kW and 350 kW and usually take between 20 and 30 minutes to provide an electric vehicle with a full charge.
  • Fast chargers, on the other hand are the most common type of public EV charger in Europe. They provide power from 7kW to 22kW and take around 3 to 4 hours to provide a full charge.
  • Slow chargers provide between 3kW and 6kW of power and are more commonly found in independent charging stations at homes or businesses. They typically take between 8 and 12 hours to provide a full charge,

Public network and independent charging

According to Statista, as of July 2019, there were 170,149 public charging stations for EVs in Europe. Some of the major Europe-wide networks include Ecotricity, Charge Your Car, InstaVolt, Tesla and Pod Point. Payment and access to networks vary by location and although some charge points are free to use, most networks that provide rapid and fast chargers, require payment on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis.

Independent EV charging typically refers to home and business charging points. As illustrated by the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association (ACEA), national incentives for EV chargers vary widely across Europe. As of March 2020, there only 12 EU countries that offer bonuses or premiums to those who buy electric vehicles, although most offer tax reduction. For a comprehensive list of EV incentives by EU country, take a look at this guide from charging point manufacturers, Wallbox.

Electric vehicle charging range

The variable that most drivers are interested in when it comes to electric vehicles is charging range. Unlike traditional fuelling stations, which are plentiful across Europe, EV charging points are more difficult to come by. As of September 2018, all EVs need to confirm their standard range according to the process set by the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).

There are a number of factors that can influence an EVs driving range. Outdoor temperatures, for example, can affect battery life as they tend to perform more efficiently in heat, so colder climates may not get as much range from an EV. Similarly, the rate of acceleration, topography, vehicle weight and battery age can all affect how much range a full charge can provide.

According to What Car? magazine as of 2020, cars with the largest range include the Tesla Model X (233 miles at a cost of £15.95), the Kia e-Niro (253 miles at £10.19), the Jaguar I-Pace (253 miles at £13.84) and the Hyundai Kona Electric with a range of 259 miles at a full charge cost of £10.09.

Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in Europe

In January 2013, The EU’s Clean Fuel Directive set a target for 800,000 public EV charging stations to be installed across Europe by 2020. Going by Statista’s most recent figures (170,149 charging stations in 2019), it’s clear that there’s still a long way to go until Europe has a large enough infrastructure to support a wide adoption of electric vehicles.

Currently, less than 7% of new car registrations in Europe are electric, however this percentage is growing due to support from governments, the automotive industry and consumer awareness. In Norway, for example, electric vehicles made up almost half of all cars sold in in 2019. Other recent developments include EDF Energy buying a majority stake in EV network Pod Point, and Total securing Europe’s largest contract for EV charging in the Netherlands.

BP are also said to be making investments in EV charging and Mobility as a Service leasing. These investments from large energy firms reflects the increasing demand for electric vehicles across Europe. European governments are also setting out plans to expand EV networks, for example, earlier this year, Romania received approval from the European Commission to fund a €53 million project for EV charging stations. Despite slower growth than initially targeted, electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Europe is improving, driven by investment from energy firms, automotive companies, governments and public demand.