Consumers will not automatically make the switch to plug-in electric vehicles if running costs are high, a recharging station network is not in place, or if new technologies are not user-friendly, according to a new policy paper by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) European Bureau.
The policy document, “Towards E-Mobility: The Challenges Ahead”, is being released in advance of the anticipated release of a new European Commission White Paper on Transport as well as the entry of several new electric vehicles into the market in the coming months. It outlines issues for consumers, public policy, and safety, and makes a series of recommendations to encourage “an appropriate development” of EVs within the framework of clean mobility generally. These recommendations include:
Individual and clean mobility should be promoted according to the technology neutral principle. Policies should support hybrid vehicles and the continuing efficiency improvements in internal combustion engines as well as supporting emobility and its development. This reflects the current state of technologies and the forecasts that BEV and PHEV will represent only a niche market in the next 15 years When member states promote tax, circulation and local traffic incentives, they should be related to carbon emission performance (preferably on a well-to-wheel basis), rather than to specific technologies.
Investment in all aspects of battery research and development should be promoted, with the object of reducing its cost, improving its capacity/mass performance, and reducing the longer term environmental impacts of its raw materials and processing.
Establish as soon as possible the standards of the specifications for battery charging arrangements and protocols, in order to promote and sustain competition on the energy market and to prevent the emergence of monopolies.
Establishing open standards for the testing of battery condition and expected remaining battery lifetime, in order to promote a fair resale value and crime prevention. This would help lower the barrier of asymmetric information between buyer and seller, making the second hand market more transparent for consumers.
Work to increase consumers’ experiences of electric vehicles: run demonstration programs to test both the technologies and users’ behaviour. Consumers must be engaged by giving them the opportunity to drive and get used to electric vehicles (cars, scooters, bicycles).
Explore some niche markets which are already ready to be made more favorable to electric vehicles (in particular BEV and PHEV): car-sharing schemes, small size fleets, public fleets, second family cars, young people more familiar with new technologies. In particular, public authorities, by using their purchasing power to choose environmentally friendly vehicles for their fleet (as requested by the green procurement procedures), can represent an important driver of the deployment of electric vehicles, reinforcing the principle of leading by example at the same time.
Promote transparency and consistency in the carbon rating of plug-in vehicles (also recognizing the challenge of accounting for carbon content in electricity, varying between countries and recharging regimes) – partly to counter commercial and political pressures to present BEVs as having “zero emissions”.
E-mobility, with the definition used in the present paper, will still only represent a niche market up to 2025. While we support the trials and market roll-out of EVs, and specific measures to address the concerns and challenges we have identified, it is vital that attention should not be diverted from promoting the continuing efficiency improvements in conventional ICE-driven cars and the adoption of conventional hybrids. Together these actions offer very significant scope for reducing emissions. Tax incentives for consumers, and local incentive policies adopted by cities and towns to encourage low carbon vehicle use, must be technology neutral – with the incentives relating to the carbon emission performance of the vehicles, preferably calculated on a well-to-wheel basis.
Furthermore, it is important to have a strategic view on clean and accessible mobility that goes beyond the car. Current use of cars is unsustainable in some cities and even if we could replace the conventional vehicle fleet with electric vehicles we would not solve the problem of individual mobility but only shift to a “green-congestion”.—“Towards E-Mobility”
The FIA and its 71 member clubs represent more than 35 million motorists in Europe.