The European transport sector needs a total makeover. Cars are responsible for 12% of Europe’s total CO2 emissions and rely on oil for 95% of their energy needs, 84% of it imported. As European cities – already home to three-quarters of the EU population – rapidly expand, so does the need for urban mobility. As a result, half of all Europeans use a car every day, leading to severe air pollution, increased congestion and traffic accidents.
Putting transport and mobility trends on a sustainable path is urgently needed, and electro-mobility can play an important role for many reasons. A larger electric vehicles market uptake can not only cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce costly dependence on imported oil and provide better energy efficiency; it also promises new market opportunities, competitiveness gains and high-skilled jobs.
Despite recent advancements and a boom in sales, electric cars still face many technological and environmental hurdles and remain more expensive than conventionally-fuelled cars. History calls for caution. The expansion of the electric vehicle industry requires new business models, R&D investment, upgraded infrastructure, as well as policy action and financial support for the creation of new markets. A fundamental change in urban mobility planning and consumer behaviour is also crucial.
This background briefing reviews the state of play of e-mobility in Europe and worldwide. It seeks to examine the main barriers blocking the development of a wider electric car market, and to shed light on existing best practices and policies. It will also propose a way to accelerate a broader shift in the global car market.