The EV Index from Sophus3 provides an objective measure of the readiness of the vehicle market to enable and encourage the mainstream adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
The index is formed from three pillars, each measuring distinct factors that help or hinder electric vehicle acquisition. First of these is the consumer appetite to buy electric, the second is the capability of the automotive companies to supply these cars, and the third is the availability of suitable charging infrastructure.
A score of 100 represents parity in the attractiveness, availability, pricing and usability of an electric car compared with a conventionally fuelled vehicle.
Currently we produce the EV Index for each of the Big 5 European economies plus Norway — we plan to add other markets in the future.
A fuller explanation of the EV Index from Sophus3 can be found here.
Sophus3’s digital data shows that online interest in EVs is definitely moving in the right direction in the UK, but has a long way to go before this translates into engaged/sales interest.
The number of EV models on offer is limited and the pricing disparities are large between EVs and ‘conventional’ ICE products. We can expect that to shift from the spring onwards as a number of more attractively priced EV cars — from Vauxhall, Peugeot, Volkswagen and Honda, amongst others — begin to arrive in showrooms.
The distribution of charging infrastructure in the UK is, relatively, better than in many European markets, but there is clearly a need for coordinated industry and government action to increase the roll-out of new charging stations if the public are to be persuaded to go ‘electric’.
Significant new EV model launches in the German market, and aggressive campaigning to support these products, notably by Volkswagen, has seen consumer interest begin to take off within the German market.
A broad range of products (with Germany often the first EU country to receive newly launched models) has meant a slightly better offer to the German consumer. Whilst the pricing of EVs and petrol/diesel equivalents is relatively better due to the higher average price of the larger cars German consumers tend to choose — compared to Italy for example where smaller cars are still the norm.
Land use patterns in Germany see a higher proportion of the population living in suburban, lower density areas than in many other Western countries. This, combined with the larger area of the country, makes the provision of suitable charging infrastructure challenging, hence the relatively low score achieved for this measure of EV readiness.
Despite France being the first European country in which car manufacturers and government made a concerted effort to win consumers over to EVs, they clearly have yet to win widespread acceptance. The level of consumer interest remains much lower than in Germany and the UK for example.
The French market is dominated by home produced volume and budget manufacturers so that the price disparities between ICE and EV cars remain wide. However the expected roll out of a number of models in the sub €30k range should see the index of affordability and choice improve somewhat over the next six months.
Charging infrastructure within France suffers from ‘patchiness’ with some rural areas of the country particularly poorly served, discouraging EV ownership for a large group of people.
Italy is clearly the laggard market, even amongst relatively slow paced neighbours, when it comes to EV adoption. Consumer interest is low to non-existent and every driver that should encourage EV adoption is currently having a negative impact on the other drivers — “Why should I consider an EV, when there are so few charging points?” “Why should I market EVs when there is so little interest in them?” “Why should we provide charging points when no one is driving EVs?”
That negativity may be changing. The Italian government launched incentives to support EV purchase during 2019. There are also, within what is a very regionally differentiated country — both culturally and politically — variation in the further incentives and charger infrastructure accessible at the local level.
Pressure on Italy’s main car manufacturer — Fiat — to achieve major emission reductions under new EU targets will see it launch its first EV during 2020. If this achieves the market traction enjoyed by the globally successful 500 model, on which it is based, then the EV Index could shift in a positive direction fairly rapidly.
Consumer curiosity about electric cars is surprisingly high in Spain given the disparities in EV pricing and the lack of availability of these cars.
When putting together this issue of the EV Index we were surprised to see just how expensive electric cars are in Spain, with the final price to the consumer in many cases higher for the same model than in Germany. This is in spite of the difference in average incomes which would make you expect the cars to command a larger premium in the German market.
But it is a case of things can only get better. The imminence of new models, including the El Born from Seat, should see a shift in perception and interest in the months ahead.
Again, the large land area of the country makes the provision of a viable charger network difficult outside of the main urban areas. EV brands will, for now, need to focus on suburban customers with shorter, hub-and-spoke trip needs that can be met from a home location where a charger can be made available.
With the highest per capita ownership of electric cars anywhere in the world, you would expect Norway to score highly in an Index of EV readiness. However, there are clearly still some barriers before the country reaches its stated objective of achieving 100% zero emission car sales by the end of 2025.
Consumer interest is obviously high (and exceeds the current sales outcomes in percentage terms) but there is much to achieve in the areas of vehicle pricing and availability. Taxation does make petrol and diesel cars very expensive, but this is very different from making the EV alternatives affordable. Car manufacturers and the tax authorities will have to act to make sure that within the next couple of years those currently excluded from EV purchase will be able to step into the market. Sticks will need to be augmented with carrots.
Despite low population density, and a relative lack of concentration of people within urban corridors, the charger network is much closer to achieving the necessary saturation than is the case in many smaller and more populous European nations.