EU's drive towards electric cars faces difficult road ahead

A man charges his electric car at an electrical charging point in Rivas Vaciamadrid, Spain, Tuesday, June 15, 2021.
A man charges his electric car at an electrical charging point in Rivas Vaciamadrid, Spain, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Copyright Manu Fernandez/The Associated Press
By Stefan Grobe
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Cars using internal combustion engines will no longer be sold in Europe after 2035.


The EU's decision to only sell electric cars after 2035 looks set to face difficulties, with infrastructure issues abound, according to experts.

Not enough charging stations, an uncertain electricity supply and an unstable electric grid are just some of the problems faced by the bloc.

But at the same time, manufacturers are working on more efficient vehicles with a range of more than 600 kilometres to try and solve charging issues.

For Sigrid De Vries, director general of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the ability of the cars is not the greatest concern.

"The vehicles will not be the biggest problem. The technology is there, the vehicles can be built. The problems are in these other dimensions of this transformation," De Vries told Euronews.

"The charging infrastructure, access to the raw materials, keeping mobility affordable and accessible for small businesses, for drivers, citizens like you and me and getting this transformation done, including the green energy as well."

Right now, half the charging stations in the EU are in two countries, Germany and the Netherlands.

The risk is that consumers will hesitate to buy an electric car, as long as there is no adequate charging infrastructure available - while investments in infrastructure require more certainty of electric car levels.

Then there is the challenge for electricity providers. A massive fleet of potentially hundreds of millions of new electric cars would mean an additional hundreds of billions of kilowatt hours of electricity generation, according to estimates.

"We need to increase the electricity output, but this is what we are planning for. We need to expand renewable energy," Michael Bloss, a German Green MEP, told Euronews.

"In Germany, we have already planned to increase renewable energy share of all electricity to 80% by 2030. This already includes assuming that we will power all of these electric cars, but not only the electric cars, but also for heating."

Finally, there is the electrical power grid. Some argue that electric vehicles make the grid unstable, which would need hefty investments to upgrade existing infrastructures in order to withstand the massive electricity uptake.

The European Commission estimates that more than half a trillion euros will be needed to modernise Europe's energy grid this decade.

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