A new study by global consulting firm Pike Research projects that the market for what it calls “electric vehicle supply equipment,” which largely centers on recharging systems and related infrastructure, is going to grow more rapidly in Europe over the remainder of this decade, with the market for such technology increasing from 72 million Euros annually (roughly $90 million) in 2012 to more than 1 billion Euros yearly (some $1.27 billion) by 2020.
“European sales of charging equipment have lagged North America because of a lack of standards and slower than expected electric vehicle (EV) sales,” noted John Gartner, Pike’s research director, in the report, entitled Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment in Europe.
“However, we expect that in a few years, consensus will be reached by auto manufacturers in the region on both alternating current (AC) and DC charging equipment, and market demand will accelerate rapidly beginning in 2015,” he said.
Gartner added that the largest market for charging equipment will be Germany, which will represent 23% of all EV charging systems sold through 2020.
The main challenge right now, according to Pike’s analysis, is that across Europe, multiple technologies are being utilized for EV charging. Furthermore, complex regulations governing the sale of electricity vary from country to country within Europe, with several different payment models and electricity rate structures applying to EV charging services – thus further complicating the process of paying for EV recharging.
At the same time, the absence of a single AC charging connector standard for EVs has hampered the deployment of EV charging infrastructure in Europe, Gartner pointed out.
Pike also noted in prior research that other key pieces of the EV growth puzzle include the development of lighter, longer lasting and more powerful EV batteries, along with the need to equip EVs with telematic systems to help them locate recharging points.
A new twist Pike highlighted in its recent study on the European development of EVs is the alliance between French automaker Renault and Japan’s Nissan around the ZOE EV: a project that is rolling out a vehicle and the supporting infrastructure technology simultaneously.
Renault designed the ZOE EV so that a corresponding fast charging station would be inexpensive to build and Pike said its analysis indicates that this low-cost charger has the potential to change the economics of commercial EV charging.