According to Pike Research, which forecasts more than 2.9 million plug-in vehicles on European roads by 2020, with 4.1 million charging stations serving them; the absence of a single charging standard is proving a major obstacle in achieving these objectives.
So far, the European Union has declined to set a single, universal standard for EV charging devices, with some nations preferring one standard over the other, even among those currently most invested in the technology.
Germany, which is predicted to be the single-largest market for EVs by 2013, currently adheres to the Type 2 plug, the so-called Mennekes Connector while others, notably France and Italy support a Type 3 plug. As a result, not only is the situation confusing, it requires automakers selling plug-in vehicles to incorporate different adapters to fit the various plug types. For example, Renault’s Fluence EV has provision for both Type 2 and Type 3 connectors.
However, the Pike Research report on electrical charging equipment in Europe suggests that if EV demand is to reach its potential there, differing charging standards cannot last.
“Since European countries have taken many different approaches to EV infrastructure and since driving among European countries is very common,” the report said, “the EU must address these country-specific variations if the EV market is to thrive.”
But given the level of bureaucracy and different standards in member states, not only for devices but regulations in how electricity itself is paid for, overcoming these obstacles to achieve a common standard is likely to be arduous process.
Nevertheless, Pike Research said annual Electric Vehicle Support Equipment (ESVE) revenue will grow from €72 million ($90 million) in 2012 to more than €1 billion ($1.3 billion) by 2020.
The report also says that the introduction of electric vehicles with mass-market appeal, such as the Renault ZOE this year and Volkswagen Golf BEF in 2013 will significantly help in accelerating the growth in charging infrastructure in Europe and likely will emphasize the need to develop a common charging standard.