The EV evolution17/08/17Government
Espen Hauge of AVERE talks about his organisation’s ambitious goals for electric vehicles in Europe
AVERE – the European Association for Electromobility (avere.org) was founded in 1978 and is a European network of members including users, NGOs, associations, interest groups, public institutions, research and development entities, and vehicle and equipment manufacturers. AVERE activities include building information and data at European level for electromobility, hosting conferences, networking, and manifestations and advocacy to the EU Commission and other institutions to promote electromobility. AVERE has an electromobility vision for Europe with four pillars: a strong electromobility industry, clean, quiet and healthy cities, energy-efficient transport, and independence from fossil fuels.
Espen Hauge is the president of AVERE, and also president of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association. He has been engaged on the Norwegian EV scene for more than ten years. His career includes project management, system engineering, and research and development, working in the oil and energy industry, and in construction, for global companies such as ABB and GE, as well as for the City of Oslo.
He answered PEN’s questions on the current state of the electric vehicle market in Europe, current success stories in the transition away from fossil fuels in the transport sector, and the role AVERE is currently playing in facilitating this transformation of transportation.
Is a paradigm shift in the way consumers currently view electric vehicles necessary?
Our experience is that people are much more satisfied with EVs than fossil cars, they typically get surprised that it works so well, they tell their friends and neighbours, they say they will never buy a fossil car again. So as soon as this train starts moving, I don’t think consumer acceptance will be an issue.
Referring to recent UK and France targets, there is no doubt 100% EV sales in 2040 is achievable. My question is whether we should have even more ambitious goals, knowing that many other climate solutions progress too slowly.
We know EVs save enormous amounts of energy, we know they will save lives due to reduced air pollution, we know a lot of batteries are required to enable 100% renewable power production on the grids. We know that EVs in a lifecycle is already a clear winner when it comes to climate and environment, and that the scorecard goes more in favour of EVs every day due to cleaner power/production, and that zero emission is in fact achievable with EVs at a global scale. My recommendation is to invest heavily and fast in battery manufacturing and battery technology, invest in strong incentives to kickstart European EV markets, and build knowledge about the EV ecosystem.
Are there any European countries that you feel have examples of best practice in how they’re handling the transition towards electric vehicles?
Without a doubt, look to Norway. (elbil.no/english/norwegian-ev-policy) This summer seven of the eight top-selling car models on the Norwegian market were EVs or PHEVs. The market share of plug-in vehicles is around 35% and increasing. Having worked in research and development and project management for 20 years, my simple advice that also applies to EV policy is: Get started! We know there will be hurdles and difficulties along the way, but maybe not the ones we think about before we start.
It is important to note that EV incentives in Norway can be transferred to any country. In the big picture the Norwegian EV incentives are cheaper than many other climate solutions. Most climate solutions have more negative side effects than electrification has (and fewer positive).
Furthermore, it is not really a question of subsidies, but about making the polluter pay. The car tax scheme in Norway brings much more income than the lost income to the state due to EV incentives. Currently the EV buyer and user pays almost nothing compared to the state and its cities, but in the future, in five or ten years, they will probably pay up to 50% of fossil cars to ensure that toll roads and parking remains funded, even if we reach 100% EVs.
A very nice experience is also that there will be unforeseen benefits. Researchers in Norway have shown that many people there bought their first EV without any environmental motivation. But after driving electric, realising that your decisions matter, getting more interested in saving electricity, etc. they become motivated to make greener choices in other parts of their lives.
We also see EV tourism in different versions. One is the stream of professionals coming to Oslo to learn about EV policy, another is car vacations coming back in style, for example, in the form of families choosing their Tesla over the aeroplane, or the happy early movers that signed up for a fast-charging station outside their business, now attracting extra customers.
One of the current challenges preventing the broader rollout of electric vehicles is the lack of charging infrastructure. How are you addressing this challenge?
Charging must be made simple. Early adopters of EVs find solutions anyway, but we need better infrastructure for the mass market. I am never afraid that I cannot pay for any service anywhere in Europe with cash or credit cards, but with EV charging it is currently more complicated, therefore interoperability must be a requirement.
Charging infrastructure needs to evolve at least as fast as the rollout of EVs. The business case for EV charging may be complicated, but will be a good one in the future – already some charging operations in EV-dense areas are starting to make money. But at the beginning, and in some remote areas, charging infrastructure will need government support. This can be done in multiple ways, but the essence is to somehow ensure continued operation and zero down-time at each location.
For slower charging we have also seen innovation in the past couple of years where, for example, flexible charging solutions for areas with grid limitations can offer a better charging service, without big investments in capacity.
What are AVERE’s priorities and goals for the future?
We invite everyone keen to be part of the electric journey to become involved. AVERE is a fantastic network comprising enthusiasts, both big and small companies, public institutions, NGOs and leading academics within the field of EVs and their ‘ecosystems’. Our task is to share knowledge, and we do this internally across our different types of members and the different countries, and we do it externally through our global conference series EVS (EVS30.org), as well as our European conference AEC (AVERE E-mobility Conference – aec-conference.eu).
We also take part in a few European projects, as partner and in the case of the European Alternative Fuels Observatory (EAFO) as lead party (EAFO.eu). Not least, we also want to become more accessible to European policy makers, because we know it is going to be challenging to stay abreast with the forthcoming disruption of the car market. We can help.
AVERE – the European Association for Electromobility
This article will appear in Pan European Networks: Government 23, which will be published in October.