Navigant Research Blog

The EU Continues to Lead EV Charging Policy

Lisa Jerram — November 4, 2016

EV RefuelingThe European Union (EU) continues to be at the forefront of policies to spur plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging. Since 2014, EU countries have been under a directive requiring member states to develop a plan to install PEV chargers on a broad scale by December 31, 2020. Public and semi-private charger availability is extremely high in the Netherlands and Norway, with other countries like the United Kingdom, Finland, and Denmark having increasingly high levels of public charging networks. The EU is also leading on interoperability and roaming, which lets drivers easily access public chargers across many networks and multiple countries. This is a key feature if the growth in public charging is to lead to greater PEV sales—which is, after all, the EU’s real goal. This has led to Europe outpacing North America in charger sales in Navigant Research’s Electric Vehicle Charging Services near-term forecasts.

Now the EU looks to be pulling another lever for the charger market: a draft directive requiring new homes to be built with charging infrastructure. The draft directive reportedly says that any new or substantially renovated home will need to be equipped for EV charging beginning in 2019. It also indicates that starting in 2023, buildings must have one out of every ten parking spaces at a building equipped for EV charging.

This directive can help drive PEV sales for several reasons. First, home buyers will be made aware of EVs and EV charging by the presence of infrastructure in new homes. Secondly, having the infrastructure installed removes some of the friction that can hinder interest in PEVs among consumers, such as understanding how home charging occurs, whether it requires an electrical upgrade, and the potential cost of such an upgrade.

Details Yet to Be Determined

However, the devil is in the details, which are yet to come. A few key points:

  • This directive could well create a scrum among charger providers looking to gain some advantage through a mandate-driven market. The directive should avoid specifications that favor certain charging companies, which would effectively hand them the new home EV charger market.
  • It should also ensure that the requirements will allow for meeting the needs of an evolving PEV market. For example, longer range battery EVs will be increasingly prevalent and would benefit from higher power charger capability.
  • Coming innovations in charging should be considered. For example, how will wireless charging be accommodated? By the time this directive goes into effect, several OEMs will be offering wireless charging as an option with their PEVs. Will the directive attempt to encourage smart charging capability, or leave that to the end user? Smart charging will become increasingly important to manage growing EV loads, particularly in the 2023 timeframe when the parking space mandate would go into effect. Indeed, there could be opportunities for building owners to aggregate PEVs for grid services.

Combined with ongoing efforts in Europe to install more public infrastructure and fast charging networks, this directive should make Europe a surging market for EV charging, potentially outpacing North America beyond 2017.

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