Electric vehicle boom means charging infrastructure investment needed

Electric Vehicles (EV) adoption is growing and recent government adoption mandates around the world have brought forward anticipated demand. Regulators worldwide are defining more stringent emissions targets.

The European Union presented its “Fit for 55” program, which aligns climate, energy, land use, transport, and taxation policies to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The Biden administration also introduced a 50% electric vehicle (EV) target for 2030. 

In New South Wales, Australia’s largest state, the government recently published its strategy to increase EV sales to 52% by 2030–31 and help NSW achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Carbon conscious consumers are also changing their transport behaviour

Consumer behaviour and awareness are changing as more people accept alternative and sustainable mobility modes. Inner city trips with shared bicycles and e-scooters have risen 60% year-over-year and the latest McKinsey consumer survey suggests average bicycle use (shared and private) may increase more than 10% in the post-pandemic world compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Consumers also are becoming more open to shared mobility options. More than 20% of Germans surveyed say they already use ride-pooling services (6 % do so at least once per week), which can help reduce vehicle miles traveled and emissions (See also “Shared mobility: Where it stands, where it’s headed,” August 2021).

EV growth will usher in an entire ecosystem opportunity

Electrification will play an important role in the transformation of the mobility industry and presents major opportunities in all vehicle segments, although the pace and extent of change will differ.

To ensure the fast, widespread adoption of electric mobility, launching new EVs in the market is an important first step. But here’s the thing, its not just about the EV market. The entire mobility ecosystem must work to make the transformation successful, from EV manufacturers and suppliers to lenders, dealers, energy providers, and charging station operators—to name only a few.

One of the things I’m watching closely is how far behind the charging infrastructure is at the current moment.

Charging infrastructure boom is yet to emerge, but its coming

While first-generation EV buyers relied mainly on private charging, the next generation will depend on public charging. According to McKensey, More than 50% of Europeans will be living in multifamily homes without private charger access, and public chargers will ensure practicality of EVs for long-distance trips, which prospective EV buyers still consider a main concern.

Regulatory processes to install chargers in private homes require simplification and production capacity for wall boxes must increase. The apartment building I currently live in is a perfect example. There are more owners with EV’s, yet the market doesn’t yet have a clear plan on how to move forward in preparing our building for individual charging needs.

McKensey estimate the industry needs to install more than 15,000 chargers per week by 2030 within the European Union. Simplified regulations are needed to facilitate charger siting, since it can currently take up to three years to obtain approval for grid extensions for a fast-charging station. Ensuring the EU-wide coverage of public charging is essential to avoid having chargers located only in profitable locations.

The NSW Government says it will invest $171 million over the next four years to “…ensure widespread, world-class EV charging coverage so current and future EV drivers can be confident they can drive their vehicles whenever and wherever they need to…”

But that number is only a tiny portfolio of private charging capacity needed.