Electrification is widely considered as a viable strategy for reducing the oil dependency and environmental impacts of road transportation. Managing this transition and accelerating the electric vehicles deployment was the main focus of the European Electromobility Stakeholder Forum, which came back to Brussels for its 5th edition on 22-23 March. Organised by flagship projects on electromobility, FREVUE, I-CVUE and ZeEUS and supported by the European Commission, this annual event has brought together over 300 representatives from government, industry, academia, and other professionals from the transport sector.
The quiet revolution is on its way, but Europe need’s to move up a gear to make it happen. This view could also be heard during the Electro-Mobility Platform’s event on 28 March at the European Parliament. Europe’s key industry players and NGOs urged Member States to show more urgency and publish their plans for crucial e-mobility infrastructure.
As Nicolas Erb, Chair of the Platform on Electro-mobility, noted:
Europe has a huge opportunity to win on so many fronts with e-mobility. For a start, we’ll recover the €1 billion or so a day Europe currently spends on high-polluting oil; we’ll hugely increase access to mobility; we’ll create high-quality jobs and we’ll save countless lives by cutting air pollution. Just look at railways, from trams to high-speed trains, which are already largely electrified and much more energy-efficient than other modes.
How to move forward? Maja Bakran, Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport (European Commission), gave the recipe:
To increase the number of EVs in the European streets, we need to provide not only the vehicle itself, but the whole system. Working on interoperable solutions, easy accessible and available charging stations, but also adjusted legislation will trigger social acceptance.
Umberto Guida, Director of the Research and Innovation, UITP, put emphasis on another important aspect:
Electromobility cannot be considered as a separate chapter of urban mobility. Pollution and congestion are the most burning problems of the cities today and we need to think globally to tackle them both. Otherwise we will get stuck in a silent and emission-free traffic jam. Increasing the share of public transport, electrified since a long time like light rail or metro, as well as relatively new electric buses, will ease the congested streets and drastically reduce pollution.
Under the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive 2014, member states were required to submit their plans for supporting charging infrastructure by the end of 2016 – only about half of them have done so. The European stakeholders need to act faster, not only because of the emergency to clean the air in cities when urban pollution causes 400,000 premature deaths in Europe, but also because it would support 1 million more European jobs than a future powered by oil by 2030.