Europe is grappling with challenges in its transition to electric vehicles (EVs). Although there has been significant progress towards the 2045 zero-emission target, the high cost of EVs remains a concern for governments. The International Energy Agency reports that Europe’s sales of electric cars have surged tenfold in the past six years. However, the transition is not swift enough to align with the continent’s climate objectives.
Governments are finding it challenging to address the initial high costs of EVs, which are often more expensive than their fossil fuel counterparts. The European Union’s commitment to cleaner transportation is part of its broader strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% from 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2045. While the EU has made strides in reducing emissions from the power sector, road transport emissions have been on the rise.
The EU aims to reduce car emissions by 55% from 2021 levels by the end of this decade and achieve zero emissions by 2035. However, the high upfront costs of EVs deter many potential buyers, despite the long-term savings from lower operational costs. To address this, many European countries offer financial incentives for purchasing cleaner vehicles. For instance, Romania provides up to €11,500 for electric vehicle purchases, while France has introduced a social leasing scheme allowing certain households to rent an EV for €100 a month.
However, these incentives are not without challenges. In Germany, for example, subsidies for EVs have been reduced as their popularity has grown. The country’s approach to taxing vehicles has also been a point of debate, with some suggesting a shift in the taxation point to promote EV adoption.
Charging infrastructure and electricity costs are other significant concerns for potential EV buyers in Germany. Only seven EU nations currently offer incentives for charging infrastructure. Gracia Brückmann, an energy researcher at the University of Berne, emphasized the importance of both the quantity and quality of policies to promote EV adoption and reduce overall fleet emissions.