EU passenger car market registered an accelerated decline in January, with new car registrations falling by 24% year-on-year to 726,491 units, according to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

Due to a combination of factors, such as Covid-19 restrictions dampening sales across the EU and fewer business days, January suffered the lowest total of new car registrations on record.

Of the four major European markets, Spain suffered the most severe decline at 51.5%. The German market was hit with a 31.1% loss followed by Italy and France with a 14% and 5.8% decrease, respectively. Conversely, Sweden boasted a 22.5% increase.

Discrepancies between the individual European markets are particularly stark when assessing regional progress towards electrification. While Norway and the Netherlands have adequate electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, other markets have fallen behind.

Subsequently, carmakers, environmentalists and consumer groups have called for targets on EV-chargers by 2024 and 2029, across the EU.

Earlier this week, the ACEA, Transport & Environment (T&E) and the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) asked the EU climate, transport, industry and energy commissioners to use this year’s revision of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure law to require 1 million public charging points by 2024, and 3 million by 2029.

Ubiquitous and easy charging

William Todts, executive director of T&E, commented: “If we’re serious about global warming we need to go electric fast. To speed up the transition we need ubiquitous and easy charging not just in Norway and the Netherlands but across Europe. EV charging targets per country are a great way to make that happen and the Commission should stop dragging its feet over this.”

Establishing such targets will provide reassurance to consumers that the number of public charging points will keep pace with the accelerating sales of EVs in Europe.

Facilitating the creation of 1m jobs across the bloc, the targets would also help with progression towards climate goals whilst granting certainty to the automotive industry, grid operators and transport companies.

According to Oliver Zipse, ACEA president and CEO of BMW, electrification progress driven by automakers is “threatened by the delayed installation of charging infrastructure in the EU”.

Zipse added: “The EU Commission quickly needs to take action and set binding targets for the ramp-up of charging infrastructure in the member states. Otherwise, even the current reduction targets in fighting climate change are at risk. In addition to public charging infrastructure, we also need to put a stronger focus on workplace and home charging.”

Region-specific targets

The targets should be allocated to each country via a simple and fair methodology accounting for factors such as the availability of private charging. Increasing inline with the rise of EVs on the road, the EU should also address the growing needs of EV drivers with reduced access to private charging.

The groups also called on the European Commission to propose replacing the directive with regulation to help harmonise re-charging standards, payment methods for consumers, tariff transparency, maintenance and other issues across the EU common market. Regulation would also allow for swift implementation of the new targets while a directive would require their transposition into national law, which can take years.