All new company cars in Belgium must be electric from 2026. Europe aims to be climate-neutral by 2050. Governments all over the world are gearing up to make electric driving the new norm. At the same time, they are encountering scepticism. The word on the street is that the charging infrastructure is having trouble keeping pace with the electric revolution. This claim is based on a lack of correct information, as there are more than enough charge points in circulation to achieve these high ambitions.
Opinion: Jean-François Cheyns, founder and CEO of MobilityPlus
One thing is certain: the market for electric vehicles (EVs) is on the rise. All the major brands are totally committed to this development, so new EVs are appearing all the time. But are there even enough charge points for all these electric cars?
The basic rule is simple: the number of charge points available must keep pace with the number of electric vehicles on the road. And that’s exactly what’s happening on the market today.
Nonetheless, the media mainly give credence to sceptics by constantly reporting that the shortage of charge point is causing a problem. They came to this conclusion by counting the number of public charge points. After all, these figures are known. However, they are overlooking the charge points on company premises or at people's homes. If these charge points were also counted, the total number would end up four or five times higher. This already provides a much more nuanced picture.
Charging an electric car is not like filling a car with petrol. You recharge an electric car whenever you can, i.e. not only when the battery is empty.
And where does this happen most frequently? At home and at work. Once you arrive, you simply plug in your car. And precisely in these places, the number of charge points is nicely keeping pace with the growing number of electric vehicles. Companies that focus on electric mobility install at least one charge point for each EV, and often more: one at the employee's home and one at the company premises. As a result, the charging infrastructure is scaled up by a factor of 1.5 to 2 per EV.
Many of our clients, including Umicore, have installed more than 100 charge points at their company premises that are also available to visitors. This trend is also reflected in other companies. All the same, these charge points are not always included in the figures.
The charge points that are currently installed at people's homes and on company premises already offer sufficient security for e-drivers. The charging speed and capacity do not need to be increased in order to keep pace with the market. The technology is already so advanced that during the course of a single night, a charge point can charge your car enough to drive 500 km.
Anyone travelling a longer distance will sometimes have to stop at a public fast charger on the way. Almost every petrol station already has a few of these fast chargers – you never have to drive far and they aren’t even in constant use.
So has that eliminated all the sticking points for electric charging? Not completely: there is certainly still room for improvement, especially with regard to the ease of use of charge points. For example, in the future manufacturers will more often choose to equip their charge points with a display screen. This screen will provide users with information about their charging session by means of text and symbols. This is useful if a problem arises during the charging session.
Mentioning the kWh price at the charge point, as in the Netherlands, will also make public charging a lot more transparent. Although we are still waiting for the sector agreements here, a mandatory price indication would certainly seem like a good idea.
Payment will also be easier in the future. I expect that charge cards will soon make way for QR codes and payment terminals. In addition, a shift from analogue communication between the charge point and the electric car to digital communication will allow for automatic payment. Digital communication networks will enable charge points to obtain much more information about the electric cars that are connected to them. This will give the charge point access to data such as the battery percentage, a linked charge card or bank account. You will no longer even need to present your charge card or debit card. The charge point will automatically settle the charging costs.