Electric mobility’s time has come

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

We need a solid and ambitious plan for guaranteeing a European network of recharging points infrastructure [ENEL]

“You can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo obviously was not referring to electric mobility when he wrote these stirring lines, but his words would have been just as fitting, writes Alberto Piglia.

Alberto Piglia is the head of E-mobility, E-Solutions at Enel.

Only a few years ago we were discussing electric mobility as an idea, we are now talking about the concrete actions that will turn its massive roll-out into a reality. Thanks to the major strides in technology that make electric mobility a viable option, we are in a position to tackle the megatrends of the coming years.

Electric mobility is a “game changer” because it responds effectively to the problems posed by population growth, increasing urbanisation and atmospheric pollution that plague us now and will even more so in the future.

It is a growth opportunity. The electric mobility value chain involves multiple industrial and service value chains, with significant potential in terms of value added and employment. Electrification of transport systems is an important opportunity for industry and for the modernisation of the European economy.

In short, electric mobility brings widespread benefits in terms of energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and safety.

But I feel the conversation needs to move past the benefits of electric mobility and on to how we can make it the go-to solution for Europe’s consumers.

Around the world, the major economies have defined a coherent and integrated set of measures for accompanying the transition towards electric mobility. While Europe navigates this transition, for this idea whose time has come, through the various legislative packages on the table, we must push for a number of important building blocks.

The European Commission proposal in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive included measures that would prevent barriers for the future installation of recharging points; promote efficient use of parked e-cars; open up opportunities for demand-side response and consumer empowerment and guarantee future-proof investments in European residences. These measures should not be diluted!

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We need a solid and ambitious plan for guaranteeing a European network of recharging points infrastructure that is open to the final customer regardless of the charging point operators and service providers. The concept of a “roaming network” should be promoted and applied at European level.

Additionally, competition between different Mobility Service Providers should be promoted as one of the main factors that will push e-mobility market growth, enabling the customer to buy service at the best value.

We must ensure that emissions standards (CO2, NOx, PM) and reliable verification processes take into account both the target of decarbonisation and the costs generated by the current air quality emergency.

We must make clear the benefits of e-vehicles in terms of air quality and health so that we allow for efficient price signals to finance the modernisation of the transport sector.

Finally, at the member state level, we should facilitate the introduction of support schemes in order to eliminate current barriers and encourage the purchase of e-vehicles.

China moves to further promote EVs, putting pressure on Europe

China announced on Thursday (28 September) it would start phasing out fossil fuel cars and set a 10% minimum quota of “new energy vehicles” in 2019, in a move European industry groups called a game changer and a wake-up call for Europe.

A recent publication by Transport and Environment, “Speeding-up European Electro-Mobility,” develops the assumption that 80%  of the European fleet should be partially or fully electrified in order to reach our 2050 emissions reduction target, meaning that 50% of new sales need to be electric by 2030.

For them, it is not a matter of if but rather of how quickly we can get there. We want to contribute to this goal.

We have a clear target and our technological progress has provided us with some amazing tools. It is now time to design policies that will open the gates for this idea to flourish.

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