Over the past decade, consumer demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States has increased exponentially, with consideration for EVs amongst prospective drivers reaching an all-time high. Accordingly, the federal government is investing in a national charging network to provide equitable access to EV charging across the country. Given that this is an important transition for the United States, this is a perfect opportunity to understand how popular EV markets, such as the European Union (EU), are transitioning to EVs. Let’s look at how the EU is implementing policy changes, charging infrastructure, and managing a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape that threatens short-term energy security.
In June, lawmakers from across the EU voted to ban the sale of all new gasoline and diesel cars by 2035, bringing them closer to their goal of cutting emissions from light-duty vehicles across the bloc. At the individual country level, various EU member states have enacted Low Emission Zones in densely populated urban areas that charge a fee to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle drivers and fleet operators who travel in these areas. This fee is accelerating EV adoption across EU member countries, as EVs do not face use restrictions in these Zones. Outside of the EU, the United Kingdom also passed a law banning the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2030, with hybrids and plug-in-hybrids granted an extension to 2035. While similar legislation banning the sale of new gas and diesel vehicles has been proposed in various states across the United States, none have succeeded in outright banning gas and diesel vehicles just yet.
From the perspective of an EV driver in the EU, the various charging networks that allow for easy public use for daily or long-distance travel across the continent are more plentiful. There are currently over 330,000 public charging stations in the EU, compared with just under 120,000 ports in the United States. Standards-wise, nearly all EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) sold in Europe (including Tesla) use the same CCS charging port. Having a standard connector among all plug-ins removes a barrier to EV adoption, as many drivers don’t want to have any confusion about recharging their vehicles. While most EVs sold in the United States now use a similar charging port, there are three different fast charging port types on American roads. Having the same charging port on every EV eliminates the problem of having incompatible and confusing charging stations across the country.
As the United States invests billions of dollars into national EV infrastructure, lessons should be learned from Norway, the European country that has been the leader in EV adoption, with the highest density of EVs in the world. Norway offered substantial incentives on a myriad of everyday vehicle operations costs, such as waived vehicle taxes, half-priced tolls, and free EV parking, just to name a few. By having these perks early on, Norway’s EV adoption rates are much higher than any other country, only recently slowing down as the chip shortage continues to limit production levels of new EVs.
Why does this matter? As the world switches to EVs, the voice of the EV driver needs to be heard now more than ever. This historic transition provides a unique opportunity for global collaboration, including amongst EV drivers who can act as clean transportation advocates wherever they find themselves. Networks such as GEVA (the Global EV Drivers’ Alliance), a network of EV driver associations around the world that facilitates collaboration on policy, organizational best practices, and other EV initiatives, are serving an important role by helping EV driver associations organize and advocate on behalf of advancing EV adoption, education, and infrastructure in their countries. Plug In America is proud to be a founding member of this dynamic network!
As the move towards EV adoption grows across the globe, the US cannot afford to only look inwards and should continue to engage with European partners to learn about what strategies can be adopted Stateside. Bold policy decisions bust me adopted that ensure cleaner, electrified transportation for the long-term.