Deployment of EU electric vehicle charging stations too slow, auditors say

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a cable to charge a Renault Kangoo ZE electric utility vehicle at a Renault dealership in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France, October 22, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's deployment of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is not quick enough to meet the bloc's targets, EU auditors said on Tuesday.

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) looked at how the European Commission supports member states in expanding electrical charging infrastructure as well as how it manages EU funding.

It found that availability of public charging stations varies significantly between member states and that payment systems are not harmonised, forcing drivers to use multiple subscriptions or payment methods to charge their cars if they travel in different EU countries.

"Last year, one in every 10 cars sold in the EU was electrically chargeable, but charging infrastructure is unevenly accessible across the EU," said Ladislav Balko, the ECA member responsible for the report.

The Commission has set a target to have 1 million charging points by 2025 and is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 90% from 1990 levels by 2050.

The number of charging points in the 27 EU nations and the UK increased by roughly 36,000 a year from about 34,000 in 2014 to 250,000 in September 2020.

There is a significant risk that the target of 1 million public charging points by 2025 would be missed if deployment continues to follow current trends, the auditors said.

About 150,000 new points would be needed each year - almost 3,000 a week - to close the gap.

Carmakers forecast a sixfold increase in production of electric vehicles in Europe between 2019 and 2025, reaching more than 4 million cars and vans a year, representing more than a fifth of EU car production volumes.

The European Commission, meanwhile, has set a target of at least 30 million zero-emission vehicles by 2030 and a largely zero-emission vehicle fleet by 2050. That compares with roughly two million currently registered in the EU.

Auditors drove more than 2,000km in an electric vehicle between Germany, France and Italy to test EU co-funded charging infrastructure. Overall, they said their experience was positive and they managed to charge their cars in all the stations.

But their report warned that drivers lack real-time data, such as information on which chargers on their route are faulty or have long queues.

About a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU come from transport, predominantly (72%) through road transport.

(Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; Editing by Kate Abnett and David Goodman)

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