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European charging network inadequate

By 2025, there should be one million charging points for electric cars in Europe. This is the only way to ensure the targeted nationwide coverage for e-cars when travelling across the continent. The EU Court of Auditors sees this goal in jeopardy.

Going on holiday with an electric car and travelling across Europe? That is hardly conceivable at the moment, as a German couple recently had to painfully realise. On their trip from Germany to the south of France, they mostly found defective or unsuitable charging stations, even though Germany and France are among the best positioned countries in terms of charging stations.

The EU's goal of putting 30 million electric vehicles on European roads by 2030 in order to meet climate targets requires a major logistical effort. One million charging stations are to be built for this purpose by 2025. The EU Court of Auditors has now expressed concerns that this target is hardly achievable with the current development of the network. Since 2014, the number of charging stations had grown from 34,000 to 250,000 in 2020. However, the missing 750,000 charging stations would now have to be installed at a much higher rate. About 150,000 new charging stations would be needed annually - that's 3,000 per week.

Another problem is the gapless distribution of charging stations. Out of 10 charging stations in Europe, 7 are in the three countries France, Germany and the Netherlands. In Central and Eastern Europe, on the other hand, there are hardly any. Also, the clustered number of pillars on popular routes and in conurbations contrasts with an enormous lack of charging pillars in rural areas.

To get a grip on the problem, the ACA calls for a comprehensive analysis of the existing network, as well as minimum standards for the operation of charging stations and uniform payment systems. Too often, e-car drivers cannot use charging stations because the software of the vehicles does not match that of the charging station. A first step towards improvement is the agreement on a uniform plug standard that has now been reached.

Also critical, according to the German Court of Auditors, is the supply of electricity for e-cars in the near future. 30 million e-cars in Europe - in this country the target is 7 to 10 million units - would mean an enormous additional load for the existing grid. In Germany, significantly more would have to be invested to secure the demand.

The EU as well as the countries themselves must therefore make improvements in order to provide the necessary infrastructure for the electric mobility revolution. This is the only way to convince people to do without a combustion engine the next time they buy a car. Until then, diesel and petrol will remain the preferred and reliable means of propulsion.