At the beginning of August, the second edition of the Impulse Plan for Mobility with Alternative Energy Vehicles (MOVEA) began to operate. Although it took effect on June 24th, the web movea2017 was not active until August 3rd. An efficient plan of aid to the purchase of vehicles that finishes next October 15th, whether the funds end or not. There is theoretically 50 million of the general budget of the State (PGE) 2017. That said, when one reads about this plan, he asks how are doing the so-called “efficient vehicles” in Spain.
In Spain, an efficient vehicle, also known as a “green” car, is a cleaner vehicle than a conventional one (diesel or gasoline). This concept includes cars fuelled by natural gas (NGV), liquefied petroleum gas (autogas), hydrogen, electric and electric hybrid (plug-in or not).
Although autogas or NGV cars are cheaper than electric cars, once they do not need batteries and they have a faster filling, consumers prefer electric ones more. Currently there are only three models:: electric hybrids, plug-in electric hybrids and fully electric.
Typical buyers of this vehicle do not seek the practicality. They seek what it represents: a symbol of progress and sustainable mobility that respects the environment. In addition, companies have not only taken into account the fact that electric vehicles contribute to erase CO2 emissions but are promoting the idea of Vehicle-to-grid (V2G): the car would allow the user to extract or inject energy from/to the battery when according to his needs. The famous concept is the order of the day even if the technology is still under development.
The campaign around the electric vehicle has been such 5,505 of pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids were sold during 2017. Almost matching the sales figure for 2016. In the last “Automobile Barcelona” event, Nissan Iberia’s CEO Marc Toro explained that individuals could save 2,000 euros a year while taxi drivers could save 4,500 euros and medium-size companies 2,600 euros. With these statements, the sale of electric cars should be exponential. However, the electric vehicle market continues to show modest figures with the penetration of the electric vehicle in Spain being only 0.41%. In other words, electric vehicles are growing but as much as expected.
Although society is becoming more and more attracted to the concept of green / electric car, there are still typical beliefs that arise in the face of changes or when trying new things. Beliefs that are gradually being dismantled or bypassed. Mainly they are:
1. It is much more expensive than the traditional one: However, once the discounts are applied, 20,300 euros is the final price of a compact electric car like the Nissan Leaf, with more than 1 billion km, 0 liters of fuel and zero emissions. On the other hand, in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Bilbao having an EVgives you a 75% discount on road tax, and in many cases free parking in blue and green areas, 60% reduction of tolls and permission to move on the rails created for vehicles with high occupancy. Moreover, in cities like Barcelona its users benefit from free charge in the public network for 2 years.
2. The batteries are expensive and with little life: The life of a battery is between eight to ten years but the users of the cars do not buy those, they tend to rent it. The Renault ZOE battery purchase by leasing is79 euros / month. If the customer chooses to buy it, the price of the vehicle would rise to about 20,000 euros. However, since 2010 prices for lithium-ion batteries have dropped 73% per kWh. An additional 70% fall is expected by 2030, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
3. There is no savings: the use cost is lower compared with a combustion car according to a study by Nissan, driving the Leaf in Spain is expected that the user saves approximately 150 euros per month with the electric cheapest rate, compared to a diesel car in an average of 50 km per day. That is, about 1,800 euros of savings per year. In addition, an electric car has lower maintenance costs by having 90% fewer components than a diesel or gasoline car. Fewer maintenance costs with the same levels of performance and a driving as a diesel or gasoline car.
4. Does not have autonomy enough: the model Renault ZOE, the best-selling electric car in Spain so far this year, allows has an autonomy of at least 160 km. Generally, daily commutes on working days are not more than 80 km so Leaf covers the requiered autonomy.
In the event that we would like to travel without worrying about running out of battery, then we would run into a belief that remains a real problem for the growth of the electric car in Spain: the lack of a well-sized cargo network.
There are three types of recharge points:
- Bound: At least 80% of the recharges should be covered in the usual parking, considered as the primary recharge point. These types of point are for charges linked to housing. It is the network that really is needed. The installation of the point is between 65 and 75 euros.
- Opportunity: there are opportunity recharge points belonging to Shopping centers, hotels, restaurants and other buildings in the tertiary sector. Points where the user can recharge while doing other daily tasks.
- Fast freight: it is for those who travel, that is, go on a visit and use public roads to reach the destination. The investment of a facility can amount to 45,000 euros.
In terms of figures, there are 2,137 points in Spain for recharging and more than 8,000 electric vehicles according to data from the Electromaps collaborative platform. From all the recharging points, only 260 are fast charging (they allow 80% of the battery in 20 minutes) compared to 800 in France or 2,300 in the UK. It is a reality that in Spain the infrastructure of recharging points, specifically fast freight on the road, are insufficient. According to Salvador Ejarque, delegate in Barcelona of the Association of Users of Electric Vehicles (AUVE), to be able to travel without worrying about running out of batteries would require one point every 50 kilometres.
The lack of a well-sized cargo network persists due to administrative and legislative issues. In Spain only the figure of charge manager is able to charge for reselling the energy without having to be a marketer, while in Europe the directives allow anyone to manage recharging points for electric vehicles.
There is an ambiguous regulation around load managers that limits the entry of new agents. In order to manage a point of recharging of electric vehicles, one must fill a large number of high documents in different entities; comply with the regulations regarding the infrastructure and have sufficient funds to deposit the guarantee, proportional to the number of facilities that are made. Moreover, there is a clause whereby if the company does not make an effective and real use of the activity, if it does not resell the energy or if it stops for a year, it will be incapacitated to continue as Cargo Manager.
As a result, in Spain there are only 118 ‘electrolineras’ (stations with electric charging points), understood as payment refuelling points, managed by 40 companies operating in 14 autonomous communities with 118 facilities. Therefore, we have shopping centres that give energy to cars as a benefit because they cannot charge for it or create collection formulas through the parking lot to be able to compensate. On the other hand, we find companies that would like to invest in fast charging points but they do not because they should give away the charge if they do not become charge managers. In addition, in the cities part of the population lives in flats, not in houses, and plugging the vehicle into private parking is not so simple. The installation must be agreed upon with the owner’s community. Not so easy task.
Something that gives us hope is the intervention of the Minister of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda, Álvaro Nadal, in the last edition of Automobile Barcelona. The minister assured that the figure of the charge manager of electric cars will be modified to reduce the bureaucratic obstacles in the installation of recharging points. In addition, Mr Nadal requested that efforts be made by all parties involved to improve the coverage of the recharge network in Spain, while demanding the unification of territorial regulations to achieve this goal. Let us hope that this is true and that more projects are being carried out such as “Iberian Corridors for Rapid Recharging of Electric Vehicles (CIRVE)” or “Strategic Plan for the Deployment of Infrastructure for Recharging of the Electric Vehicle in Catalonia (PIRVEC)”. Just pray that the infrastructure of points of recharge is well dimensioned and we do not have an overcapacity; famous characteristic that occurs in the electrical system and the regasification system of Spain.
Marta Merodio | Energy Consultant