The journey to net zero carbon in Europe is well underway. With the EU aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, success will depend on one major shift: the mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). And as EV production ramps up, Europe is already making waves on the global stage.
In fact, in 2020 alone Europe’s EV fleet grew by over 70%. The clear leader on the continent is Germany, which registered an unprecedented 390,000 EVs last year. But the UK, with an estimated 10 million EVs on its roads by 2030, is in hot pursuit. According to SMMT, sales in the UK soared in 2020, securing EVs a total market share of 10.7%. This comes as the UK’s largest car manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, recently announced a commitment to make Jaguar exclusively electric by 2025.
Whilst the pace of EV production by European OEMs is admirable, production alone is not enough to manage the widespread transition to electric
France too is laying bold plans, with one of the most generous incentive schemes of any country, the French government plans to offer up to US$13,150 to electric vehicle buyers to encourage adoption. Even those emerging EV markets, like Belgium, are making real headway on the path to electrification and opportunities for business partnerships with neighbouring production giants will only help speed things up in the near future.
But whilst the pace of EV production by European OEMs is admirable, production alone is not enough to manage the widespread transition to electric. Europe needs to think holistically about EV adoption, considering not just production but charging strategy too.
If EV registrations in Europe continue to rise as they are now, and drivers all choose to plug in at the same time—straight after work, for example—national grids will simply not be able to cope with the power demand. Even Germany, which has Europe’s most sophisticated electric infrastructure, will struggle to bear the strain. The solution is thankfully already at our fingertips: smart charging. The technology comes equipped with metering and billing functionality and can bring down the cost barrier to adoption while future-proofing existing infrastructure at the same time.
Smart charging solutions can pool data with the national grid to intelligently balance where power is channelled, preventing surges whilst ensuring that every car is charged well ahead of the time its driver needs it. At the same time, these sorts of charging solutions also allow drivers to draw from the grid at times of cheap, free energy. In fact, in some cases, when there is surplus energy on the grid, drivers can even get paid to charge their vehicles. This means drivers are further incentivised to make the switch and OEMs are left to reap the rewards by meeting that demand.
Europe needs to think holistically about EV adoption, considering not just production but charging strategy too
As EVs roll out more and more widely, intelligent charging infrastructure will prove crucial. Automakers are perfectly positioned to lead the way in Europe by matching their lofty production ambitions with an intelligent and considered charging strategy. In fact, OEMs enjoy the unique opportunity of being able to drive consumer behaviour change en masse by providing smart charging as part of an integrated package to EV buyers. Not only will this save consumers money in the long term, it also provides a means for OEMs to maintain a connection to their customers in the long term and provide a better customer experience.
At the same time, by working with smart charging and data platforms, OEMs are able to unlock powerful insights into driver behaviour by accessing data such as usage, mileage, charge times and more. These insights can help shape an OEM’s strategy from vehicle design through to other services like insurance and after sales care. And for fleet providers, the benefits of data are magnified as it can be used to build a valuable management platform and become a real point of difference in the market.
It’s high time smart charging became not a secondary concern for OEMs, but a clear priority to enable faster and smoother mass adoption of EVs.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
David Watson is Founder and Chief Executive of Ohme
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