As ever, politicians associated with the European Union have been forced to backtrack on targets for electric vehicle charging and hydrogen refuelling stations. In a move which is attracting positive and negative comment in equal measures, it seems that the decision to change targets to "appropriate numbers" was forced by the likes of the UK estimating it would be 64,000 EV stations short by the target date of 2020.
The situation in the UK has been replicated across many other European countries and it seems that rather than miss out on ambitious early targets it will be left up to individual countries to set their own targets.
Is this positive news?
There are many EV fanatics who believe that the initial targets from the European Union were wholly unachievable and did not make sense. They placed enormous pressure, not only on EV manufacturers and EV recharging station companies but also the public purse across Europe with many countries part funding development. It is perhaps no coincidence that at the height of the austerity programme moving across Europe we have seen targets for EV recharging stations effectively "kicked into the long grass".
Some experts believe that taking the pressure off these ambitious targets will allow funding to be directed to different areas, which should assist the long-term growth in the industry as a whole. However now that the pressure is off the EV industry could we see cutbacks in charging station investment, an area which is vital to the long-term success of the sector?
Quote from ElectricForum.com: "A number of recharging networks across the US are now offering users the chance to pay a monthly fee for unlimited usage or one-off fees when they use the network. It seems that slowly but surely the era of free recharging for electric vehicle owners is coming to an end. Do you think it is too soon or have electric vehicle owners had it too good for too long?"
Is Europe downscaling EV hopes and ambitions?
It does seem a little bizarre to change the goalposts when you realise they are unachievable, something which the European Union has done with EV charging station targets. This effectively allows countries to claim "success" in the years to come because in reality there are no targets to compare the actual number of EV stations against. However, is this a little unfair and are we finally seeing some kind of reality check from the European Union?
While there is no doubt that many experts are disappointed these ambitious targets have been taken away, this should not deflect from the ongoing success of the EV industry as a whole. Overall European electric vehicle sales in June 2014 were up a credible 91% against the same time last year. Indeed the likes of Nissan, BMW and Tesla have all seen significant growth to reflect their cumulative enormous investment in the industry. So perhaps we are being a little unfair to the European Union to suggest it is taking its eye off the ball because the industry overall is in a far better place than it was at the turn of the century.
This realigning of European Union EV charging station targets is a little disappointing and perhaps the fact that no new figures have been announced has exacerbated this feeling. However, as we touched on above, this must not divert attention from the fact that the European EV market is growing significantly and much of this is to do with European Union policies and individual government investment.
To compare the EV market today to that of the turn-of-the-century will give us a real-time view of how successful various European Union policies have been so far. It is certainly not all doom and gloom in the European EV market!