Fundamental changes (still) needed to public charging infrastructure

Arturs Smilkstins explores the implications of recent EV commitments at COP26 and what that means for the charging network

At COP26, more than 30 countries and dozens of businesses sign a declaration committing that all new vehicle sales should be zero-emission by 2035. This was a huge step forward in the global commitment to decarbonise the world’s transport sector, although the US, China, and Germany failing to sign was a blow to negotiations.

Transportation is responsible for around 24% of direct CO2 emissions from fuel combustion, and the vehicles on today’s roads account for nearly three-quarters of these emissions. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising to see that certain modelling estimates that the automotive sector in most major markets, including the EU with its European Green Deal, will likely fall well short of Paris Agreement targets for cutting worldwide emissions. Taking action to decarbonise the transport sector has never been more important.

Indeed, EVs are an attractive solution in efforts to reduce transport emissions. However, adoption levels in the UK and around the globe are being severely impacted by a lack of public charging infrastructure—something that now needs to be front of mind moving forward if we’re to achieve global net-zero targets.

For EV’s to truly become a reality, we have to continue to develop a network of cost-effective and convenient public charging infrastructure, one which is accessible and available to all vehicle types

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) predicts that by 2026, EVs will account for more than half of light vehicles sold globally; however, further investment in public charging infrastructure is critical to ensuring that EV uptake among both commercial and passenger vehicles remains high. 100 million additional charge points will be required globally in the next decade to keep pace with projected sales growth, with approximately 13 million chargers required to guarantee sufficient capacity for the commercial vehicle market.

It was positive to see the UK taking a lead on this during COP26, as it unveiled its new design for a network of EV charging points but, if we are to meet these ambitions globally, governments and the private sector must now work with industry to implement a practical roadmap for the buildout.

Alongside the announcement at COP26, I was really pleased by UK government’s recent decision that all new homes and workplaces built in England from 2022 will be required to have electric vehicle charging points, as part of their standard specification. Boosting charging availability is a positive step forward in our ambitions to decarbonise the transport sector. However, while much focus is being placed on passenger vehicle charging infrastructure, for EV’s to truly become a reality, we have to continue to develop a network of cost-effective and convenient public charging infrastructure, one which is accessible and available to all vehicle types. Larger commercial vehicles such as buses or heavy duty lorries for example, will require a different charging infrastructure archetype, one which offers ultra-fast charging speeds and frequent ‘top-up’ charging points, in order to run efficiently and effectively.

If public charging maintenance costs are neglected, we face being left with an unreliable and dysfunctional charging infrastructure, which will naturally deter many consumers from fully transitioning to EVs

In addition to this, it’s also important that governments and the wider industry consider the necessary measures and funding which need to be implemented, to ensure these charging points are maintained. The cost of electric cars is decreasing and this, coupled with the increasing distances they can travel, is making them an attractive purchase for many people. However, if public charging maintenance costs are neglected, we face being left with an unreliable and dysfunctional charging infrastructure, which will naturally deter many consumers from fully transitioning to EVs.

It’s no secret that we are facing a huge challenge in our bid to decarbonise transport. However, if we don’t invest in the necessary charging capacity now and encourage a global market standard, the EV market could be brought to a standstill , something we and planet, simply cannot afford.


The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Arturs Smilkstins is a Partner at Boston Consulting Group

The Automotive World Comment column is open to automotive industry decision makers and influencers. If you would like to contribute a Comment article, please contact editorial@automotiveworld.com

 

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