The European regulation is forcing a shift to electric vehicles

10th May 2023
Europe is leading a revolutionary change in the global automotive industry, with a notable shift from traditional internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. A significant change for this transition is the regulatory policies implemented by the European Union (EU) designed to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and combat climate change. This article explores how regulatory measures are reshaping the automotive landscape and compelling the shift to electric vehicles in Europe.

The first step towards emission standards

In 2020, the European Union implemented stringent emissions standards for cars, marking a significant milestone in its campaign against climate change. These rigorous standards mandate that automakers curtail the average CO2 emissions of their fleets by 37.5% relative to the levels recorded in 2021. By 2030, the EU plans to escalate this target to a 55% reduction.

These demanding emissions targets necessitate automakers to substantially augment the production and sales of EVs. Failing to meet these standards results in substantial financial penalties, adding an economic incentive for automakers to speed up their transition to electric vehicles.

Building a supportive environment

In addition to the emissions standards, the EU has also established a comprehensive strategy to promote the development of the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles. In its 2023 regulatory update, the EU introduced the “Green Charging Infrastructure Plan.” This initiative fosters the development of a charging infrastructure across the continent, with a goal of ensuring that drivers are never far from a charging station.

Under this plan, the EU aims to establish at least one charging point every 60 kilometers on major highways by 2025. This regulatory-driven infrastructure expansion plays a crucial role in making EVs a practical and convenient alternative to traditional vehicles, thus fostering their adoption

The clean energy connection

Furthermore, the EU has introduced regulations promoting the use of renewable energy sources for EV charging. This adds another layer of environmental benefits to the shift towards EVs, ensuring that the electricity used for charging these vehicles is as clean as possible. The Clean Energy Package, for instance, an important tool in the EU’s regulatory toolkit for driving the transition to a clean and sustainable energy system, facilitates the integration of electric vehicles into this system, ensuring that the electricity they use is as green as possible, and that the benefits of the shift to electric transport are maximized. 

This is an essential part of the broader shift towards a more sustainable energy landscape in Europe. These incentives take various forms, including financial support mechanisms, favorable grid access conditions, and streamlined administrative procedures for renewable energy projects.

Moreover, the Clean Energy Package also contains provisions to empower consumers and energy communities. It encourages consumers to become ‘prosumers‘ — consumers who also produce renewable energy, typically through solar panels installed on their homes. This not only helps to decentralize and diversify the energy supply but also contributes to the broader goal of energy democratization.

The impact on automakers and consumers

The cumulative impact of these regulatory measures is a significant acceleration of the shift towards electric vehicles. European automakers are investing heavily in EV production in response to these new standards. 

Several major companies have made substantial commitments to electrification, signaling a seismic shift in industry priorities. For instance, Volkswagen, one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers, announced in 2022 that it plans to stop selling combustion-engine vehicles in Europe by 2035, with a strategic vision to become fully electric. Similarly, Volvo, another industry heavyweight, has pledged to become a fully electric car company by 2030. This includes not only the production of new electric models but also the gradual phasing out of internal combustion engine-vehicles from its lineup. These corporate decisions, driven in large part by the EU’s regulatory policies, demonstrate a significant industry-wide commitment to sustainable vehicles. 

On the consumer side, there’s also a rising wave of acceptance and enthusiasm for electric vehicles. In 2021, EV sales in Europe saw a remarkable surge, doubling from the previous year’s figures. According to industry forecasts, this trend is not only here to stay but is also expected to accelerate in the coming years. By 2030, electric vehicles are projected to account for over 50% of new car sales across the continent. This would represent a dramatic shift in consumer behavior and a significant step towards achieving the EU’s ambitious sustainability goals. 

This growing consumer demand for electric vehicles is driven not only by the regulatory environment but also by a desire to be part of the solution to the global climate crisis. The increasing affordability and performance of EVs, along with the expanding charging infrastructure, are making electric vehicles an increasingly attractive option for consumers across Europe.

In conclusion, the EU’s regulatory framework is a pivotal driving force behind the rapid electrification of the transportation sector in Europe. By setting ambitious emissions targets, fostering the development of charging infrastructure, and promoting the use of renewable energy, the EU is compelling automakers and consumers alike to embrace electric vehicles. As the world grapples with the climate crisis, Europe’s regulatory-driven shift to electric vehicles offers a promising model for other regions to follow.