Bellona’s vision for attaining an electromobile Europe

Bellona's trip from Northern Norway to Murmansk, Russia, in EV Tesla.
Bellona's trip from Northern Norway to Murmansk, Russia, in EV Tesla.

Publish date: June 23, 2015

Currently, passenger cars alone are responsible for over 15% of total CO2 emissions in the EU. The global car fleet is predicted to double from 800 million to 1.6 billion vehicles by 2030 thus placing greater pressure on the need to decarbonise transport. Bellona sees the EU transport sector as a large and untapped sector for significant amount of cost effective mitigation potential. Even though a variety of clean vehicle technologies and fuels are in development and use, electric vehicles (EVs) represent one of the most promising technologies for cutting CO2 emissions, reducing petroleum reliance and improving local air quality.

While the optimal EV incentives would vary depending on the country in question, in general any successful scheme needs to be accompanied by sticks and carrots. Sticks, in the form of an EV-conducive regulatory environment, are key to breaking the relationship between zero emission vehicles and fossil fuel prices. Carrots, in the form of sufficient taxing differences for instance, on the other hand, should provide a strong enough price signal to induce a change in consumer behavior” notes Teodora Serafimova, Policy Adviser at Bellona Europa.

Bellona has been active on the topic of transport sector decarbonisation for over two decades, and was a driving force behind the development of Norway’s electrification strategy, the country with the highest penetration of EVs per capita in the world today. Initiatives in the EU transport sector should build on good practices of policies and measures observed in the Norwegian transport sector to promote the widespread uptake of EVs. Bellona shares its recommendations for driving electromobility forward in the EU in its brief Electromobility in the EU: State of Play and Way Forward (June, 2015).

Making EVs a cost-saving option, at both purchase and during operation

Public authorities should provide sufficient financial incentives through the granting of substantial tax differences favoring EV purchase. Equally powerful can be measures to render EVs more favorable during operation, such as free parking, free re-charging and access to bus lanes. In Norway, 41% of EV buyers quoted cost-saving as primary reasons for buying an EV.

Building consumer confidence and thereby demand

Public authorities should ensure significant investments in visible, accessible and EU-wide compatible charging infrastructure. To this end, it is important to ensure the timely and ambitious implementation of the Alternative Fuels Directive (AFI), which sets common technical standards for the building of re-charging stations for EVs across EU Member States and mandates minimum numbers of re-charging stations per Member State to be put in place by 2020. While the AFI Directive is an important step in cutting costs of EV deployment by creating an EU-wide market, instead of fragmented national ones, it is important that Member States’ National Plans incorporate measures to promote smart charging of EVs to allow them to effectively integrate into the power system so as to facilitate the reliability of supply and the smooth EV mobility.

Creating a stringent, EV-conducive regulatory environment

Public authorities should facilitate an EV-friendly regulatory environment, by tightening emission performance standards for cars in the upcoming review process of Regulation (EC) 443/2009, to be set at a minimum of 70g/km for 2025. This tightening is necessary given the early attainment of vehicle emission performance standards for 2015.

Improving EV batteries and ensuring their suitability for energy storage

Car manufacturers should provide direct investments towards the further improvement of the reliability and durability of batteries, and ensure the suitability of batteries for use and re-use for energy storage purposes. Applying used EV batteries for energy storage holds the potential to revolutionise the EU energy market, while enhancing energy supply security.

Enhancing public awareness of EV benefits, both cost-saving and environmental

Last but not least, European leadership should ensure the proper communication of EV benefits to consumers. It is important that the EU undertakes necessary measures to ensure the recommendations set out in the EU’s Energy Union Strategy are followed through, including ensuring the electrification of transport is a high priority in the envisaged Energy Union, with full integration of EVs in urban mobility policies and in the electricity grid, both as energy consumers and potential storage facilities.