Electric vehicles and charging stations in Europe

It is no surprise that the technological revolution has broadened the horizons of today’s generation. While new, advanced devices have taken networking and communication to a whole new level, the automotive industry is in no way behind when it comes to incorporating smart technology in both vehicle manufacturing and the vehicle itself.

Since road traffic has become a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, certain measures are being implemented to prevent global warming. One step towards the effective use of renewable resources is the progression of the EVs industry. It is, therefore, becoming more and more important to know how electric cars work and why they are a great alternative to fuel-based vehicles.

The mechanics behind electric cars

Simply put, EVs are driven by electric motors, which are powered by batteries that can be charged with power supply. These are called battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The amount of power required is moderated by a control unit that allows smooth acceleration and deceleration.

Other EVs that are based on 100% electric motors include fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), which convert chemical energy into electric energy, and extended-range electric vehicles (EREVs) that are equipped with an additional fuel-based power unit for improved range. The other two popular EV types are hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). These work thanks to their internal combustion engines, with the only difference that in HEVs, the battery connected to the electric motor doesn’t have the option of external recharging like in PHEVs.

The process of EV charging

Electric car owners can charge their vehicles using the electric supply at home or the commercial charging stations. There are, however, certain time durations which, unlike in the case of refilling fuel-based vehicles, vary depending on the charging point types and methods. Three major EV charger types include:

  • Level 1 or slow charging requires a simple socket, provides 3kW-6kW power but takes 8-12 hours for a complete charge.
  • Level 2 or fast charging can be done at public charging stations, provide 7kW- 22kW power, and takes 3-4 hours for charging.
  • Level 3 or rapid charging uses direct current (DC) charging stations, providing 100kW- 350kW power, and taking less than an hour to fully charge an EV battery.

So far, the future of EVs looks promising. Reduced operating cost and no tailpipe emissions attract an increasing number of buyers. The biggest challenge the electric car market is currently facing, though, is range anxiety. Range anxiety is what happens to EV drivers when their fully charged battery doesn’t suffice and the car falls short until the next charging station. That is particularly troublesome when traveling long distances and on specific routes where charging stations are not dense enough.

The good news is that many European countries are now realising the need to facilitate things for EV owners. According to July 2019 reports, 170,149 public charging stations have been made available with fast charging points supplying 22kW power. As for the year 2020, it is observed that they are continuing to grow exponentially. The heat map below illustrates the current numbers of charging stations per country in Europe.

The incentives to be enjoyed by EV owners and buyers

The good news doesn’t stop here. To further encourage EVs, European governments have provided tax benefits and subsidies on the purchasing of electric cars. Romania, Germany, and France are leading the way in delivering approximately 9,000 EUR subsidy while Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom provide 3000-6000 EUR subsidy on EVs purchase.

These measures have resulted in stellar growth of Europe’s EV market share. The first quarter of 2020 showed a 6.8% increase in EVs purchase in contrast to 3% last year despite the Covid-19 pandemic. It is expected that by 2021 EVs production in Europe will boost to over 2 million and will surpass China’s market.

The promising future ahead of EVs

Electric cars are emerging as a beacon of hope for convenient and efficient yet environmentally-friendly transportation. Already promising in their current form, the exciting sustainable technologies that are available now will be, without a doubt, consequently improved over the next years. As a result, the advancement and accessibility of EVs have no other option but to grow.

Images from: Electromobility in Europe: EVs and Charging Stations