Evaluating Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Policies


The emissions of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, and harmful particles like NOx , SOx and PM are rising (Boden, Marland, & R.J., 2015; Hao, Geng, & Sarkis, 2016). These emissions are proven to be linked to global warming and reduced air quality (Davis, Bell, & Fletcher, 2002; IPCC, 2014; Stanek, Sacks, Dutton, & Dubois, 2011). The combustion of fossil fuels in transportation is a major contributor to these emissions; in 2015 transport contributed to 14% of global CO2 emissions (International Energy Agency, 2016). In Western countries the share of transport in total emissions is even larger; in the USA 27% of CO2 emissions are attributed to transport of which 83% can be ascribed to road transport (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2015). In Europe road transport contributes 17.5% to the total CO2 emissions (European Commission, 2009). While other major industries have shown a downturn in greenhouse gas emissions, transport emissions have continued to rise since 1990. In 2017, transport is the largest greenhouse gas polluting sector in the United States.

Electric vehicles (EVs) show great promise to reduce the emittance of CO2 (Messagie, Macharis, & Van Mierlo, 2013) and local emissions (Razeghi et al., 2016). Due to better energy efficiency, compared to the internal combustion engine (ICE), and zero tailpipe emissions, EVs can curtail harmful emissions. Currently, a large share of the automobile manufacturers has a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) or a Full Electric Vehicle (FEV) model for sale or planned. New models gain a lot of media attention and sales of particular models have been considerable (Bowermaster & Alexander, 2017). Current developments show that EVs are likely to gain a significant market share in the years to come (International Energy Agency, 2015).

Despite these developments, the vast majority of new cars sold still makes use of ICE technology. The adoption of EVs is restrained by technological, infrastructural and psychological barriers. The most prominent barriers are high acquisition costs (Egbue & Long, 2015; Hagman, Stier, & Susilo, 2016), range anxiety (Franke & Krems, 2013a, 2013b) and a lack of (public) charging infrastructure (Egbue & Long, 2015; Krupa et al., 2014). With decreasing battery costs (Nykvist & Nilsson, 2015; Nykvist, Sprei, & Nilsson, 2019) and increasing battery capacity in new car models, the first two barriers can likely be overcome in the years ahead. Car makers are building and have announced new models with larger battery capacity at lower prices, in line with developments over the past years. Newly announced models are expected to come to the market at the turn of the decade. Stricter emission regulations in for example the European Union from 2020 onwards require a substantial effort from OEMs to sell zero-emission vehicles. This signals that EVs are becoming available for a wider range of consumers and are becoming a viable alternative for ICE vehicles.

The remaining barrier is a sufficient charging infrastructure for EVs. The development of (public) charging infrastructure is expected to follow the growth of EV sales (International Energy Agency, 2016). However, the deployment of charging infrastructure deals with a chicken-or-egg problem. With a low number of EVs on the road today, the business model of charging infrastructure is not viable (Madina, Barlag, Coppola, Gomez, & Rodriguez, 2015; Schroeder & Traber, 2012) and vice versa with a low amount of charging stations consumers are reluctant to purchase EVs. The development of a public charging infrastructure is however vital for early adaptors. Governments step in to break the chicken-or-egg dilemma and create a public charge network.

Reference Wolbertus, R. (2020). Evaluating Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Policies. [Research HvA, graduation external, TU Delft]. TRAIL.
27 February 2020

Publication date

Feb 2020


C.G. Chorus
M. Kroesen
R. van den Hoed


Research database