Declining fossil-fuelled car sales turned 2022 into a bad year for automakers. In contrast, the market share of battery-powered electric vehicles grew to a record 12.1%, in a show of strength for sustainable mobility solutions, data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) show.
With transport accounting for one fourth of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, this is a critical development on the road to achieving EU carbon neutrality goals.
However, purchasing an electric vehicle is only one aspect of the otherwise complex and still evolving electric market. Today, all potential e-car owners face a basic challenge: where to recharge their cars as close, easily and conveniently as possible to their home, workplace and other areas of interest?
In the absence of an adequate answer to that question, many consumers will just continue to buy traditional petrol and diesel cars out of fear that it would otherwise be too difficult and inconvenient to power an e-vehicle.
Indeed, only an effective and widespread network of electric charging facilities across the EU can inspire consumer confidence and foster the adoption of battery-powered vehicles on a broader scale.
The EU-funded USER-CHI project was conceived to respond to that issue by supporting the development and roll-out of new charging infrastructures as well as encouraging e-mobility uptake, with a focus on user needs.
Since its inception in 2020, USER-CHI – to which Eurocities is a partner – has been working with seven European municipalities to design new e-charging networks, develop and test innovative charging systems, make legal recommendations, inspire confidence in e-vehicles, among other activities.
USER-CHI also boasts its own podcast to explore the many facets of e-mobility and raise awareness about the challenges of electric charging.
The podcast’s first episode offers a first glimpse into electromobility and, with the help of two industry experts and an e-car driver, helps to dispel some misconceptions.
Are electric cars truly effective in curbing air pollution? What are the benefits and advantages for users, city dwellers and society in general?
Listen to the podcast below, and read on to learn more!
Passenger cars account for around 12% of the total EU emissions of carbon dioxide and are the largest source of nitrogen dioxide pollution.
On the other hand, electric cars emit three times less CO2 than their petrol or diesel equivalents. Although e-vehicles still produce greenhouse gas emissions, they also release fewer toxic pollutants and have an overall-all lower environmental impact than fossil-fuelled cars.
These simple data alone could be enough to advocate for a switch to e-vehicles to reduce reliance on petrol-powered vehicles and improve people’s life quality and health.
Electric vehicles play a leading role in all EU plans to reduce air pollutants from road transport: by 2030, the sale of battery-powered cars could contribute to up to 75% of emission reduction from new vehicles, which would be crucial to meeting EU climate ambitions.
But what are electric vehicles anyway? The category includes all cars, vans and trucks that are powered by electricity and draw their energy from storage batteries or an external source. Only battery-powered electric vehicles are fully electric, unlike plug-in hybrids and hybrid vehicles that also run on petrol.
Unsurprisingly, with the climate crisis turning into an emergency in recent years, the number and popularity of electric vehicles has increased dramatically.
In 2021, international sales of electric vehicles hit the 6.6 million mark – that same year, almost 10% of global car sales were electric, four times the market share compared to 2019. Numbers continued to grow in 2022, and no doubt we’ll see more and more electric vehicles on the road in the coming years.
Is an electric revolution unfolding before our eyes?
“There is certainly a rapid change right now that could be seen in some way seen as revolution,” says Thomas Neumann, who at the time of the interview was a Policy Manager at the European Association for Electromobility (today Neumann works as an accredited EU Parliament assistant on Industrial Policy).
EU climate ambition is what mainly sparked this change, together with legislation such as an EU ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035.
“We now have standards for carmakers who have to reduce their CO2 emissions from cars and, as a result, need to produce and sell electric cars across Europe,” explains Julia Poliscanova, Senior Director for Vehicles and e-Mobility at the European Federation for Transport and Environment. “At the moment, the key pillar of the European strategy is to first focus on the supply of electric vehicles, to make sure that there is enough offer for European consumers,” she adds.
A number of other factors are adding to battery-vehicles’ success. “We’ve also seen advances in technology: it’s become much cheaper to produce batteries. Meanwhile batteries’ range has increased, so they’ve become more convenient for consumers,” Neumann remarks.
But what about consumers? Are e-vehicles as good for people as they’re good for the planet?
We’ve asked Julian, a e-vehicle driver from Germany. “Today we use our cars for all kinds of driving,” he says. “We often go to the Baltic Sea, which is around 300 kilometres from Berlin….Travelling long distance, which was kind of an adventure back then, is a piece of cake nowadays,” Julian adds.
Listen to the USER-CHI podcast’s 1st episode to learn more about Julian’s 16-year experience with an electric car and to delve deep into the conversation with e-mobility experts Julia Poliscanova and Thomas Neumann.
Top photo by: Zaptec